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Union to give evidence against solar means test.



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MEDIA RELEASE Senator Simon Birmingham Liberal Senator for South Australia Monday, 28 July 2008 Union to give evidence against solar means test Union officials opposed to the Rudd Government’s means test on solar rebates will be among those giving evidence today to a Senate committee inquiry into its impact, Senator Simon Birmingham said today. The hearings in Melbourne today follow those in Canberra on Friday, at which Environment Department officials responsible for the rebate program’s administration were an extraordinary eleventh hour ‘no show’ on the orders of Minister Peter Garrett. Victorian ETU secretary Dean Mighell is expected to appear today, on behalf of his union’s member electrical contractors who invested in solar installation training, after attacking the means test in a strongly worded submission to the inquiry: The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) was shocked to hear the Federal Governments budget announcement that families who earn over $100,000 before tax would become ineligible for the $8,000 rebate for installing solar panels. As such the ETU supports the Save our Solar (Solar rebate Protection) Bill 2008 as a mechanism to overturn this decision… The Rudd Government does not appear to be serious about tackling global warming. Rudd’s claim that ‘climate change is the great moral challenge of our age’ has clearly been forgotten or blatantly disregarded. Also appearing will be the Alternative Technology Association (ATA), concerned at revelations in Budget Estimates that the Rudd Government in part based its means decision on an ATA survey. The survey, entitled The Solar Experience - PV System Owners’ Survey was not suitable for making decisions about income levels of people installing solar PV for a number of reasons. It was never the intention of this survey to collect accurate data on income levels… “Today’s hearing is another important opportunity giving voice to contractors, suppliers and others adversely affected by the government's ill considered means test,” Senator Birmingham said today. “This means test has been a double whammy for the environment and the economy, with carbon reduction and jobs lost as millions of dollars in solar business has dried up.” Today’s hearing starts at 9.00am at St James Conference & Function Centre, 12 Batman Street, Melbourne. Further details of the inquiry, including submissions, hearing dates and agendas, can be found at http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/eca_ctte/solar_rebate/index.htm. Media contact: Senator Birmingham 0404 807 970