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Thursday, 5 February 2009
Page: 628


Mr SYMON (10:39 AM) —Today I would like to talk about the Rudd government’s National Rainwater and Greywater Initiative. This is a $250 million program that delivers on our election commitment to deliver rebates for water tanks. My electorate of Deakin stands to benefit substantially from this program. Many constituents contact me about water-saving programs and it is certainly good news that we can deliver this through a Commonwealth program in support of the existing state rebate programs.

Rebates are provided to the owner of the dwelling under this initiative for the purchase and installation of a new rainwater tank, which is connected for internal re-use of the water for the toilet and/or the laundry. Alternatively, rebates are paid for the purchase and installation of a permanently plumbed-in greywater treatment system. In both situations the installation must be done by a licensed plumber to attract the rebate. For rainwater tanks from 3,999 litres to 2,000 litres there is a $400 rebate, and for those over 4,000 litres there is a $500 rebate. These rebates are available for tanks or systems purchased after 30 January 2009 and are not subject to means testing.

The good news is that these rebates apply on top of the Victorian state government’s rebate for water tanks. The state government rebate can be up to $1,000 for a tank of 5,000 litres or greater. When added to the Commonwealth rebate, a total of $1,500 can be claimed as a rebate from the two levels of government. For example, a typical 5,000-litre polyethylene tank can be purchased and delivered in Deakin for under $1,500. Added to this cost is around $1,500 for installation, which includes piping and a basic pump unit. This is a total of under $3,000 for a 5,000-litre tank system. When the $1,500 worth of rebates is factored in, the total cost of the rainwater tank and its installation drops to under $1,500.

Whilst many community facilities and schools in Deakin have rainwater collection tanks, the take-up rate for households is much lower. Figures show that rainwater tanks are currently used by only a small percentage of urban Australian households—an average of less than 10 per cent for capital cities other than Adelaide.

In Melbourne in January this year, the recorded rainfall was only 0.8 millimetres and a heatwave of record temperatures was recorded over many days. As unpleasant as extremes of weather such as this can be, there is a side effect—that is, an increased interest in the installation of home rainwater tanks. With greater rebates available, there has been no better time to invest in a rainwater tank system. I commend this initiative and urge the householders of Deakin and the rest of Australia to seriously consider doing their bit to save water and reduce their annual water bills.