MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Simon Birmingham is the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Action… South Australian Senator… Simon Birmingham, good morning.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Good morning Matthew, David, listeners.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: You want to respond to Penny Wong on the Green Loans scheme.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Thanks, Matt. I didn’t hear all of Penny but I understand you’ve had many callers which doesn’t surprise me… my office has, over the last month, been inundated with people disappointed and disaffected with the management of the Green Loans scheme and yesterday was an ‘airing the dirty laundry’ session for the Government late in the afternoon when Penny outlined all of the failings of Green Loans whilst at the same time Minister Combet was outlining in the House of Reps all of the failings of Home Insulation…
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: You have to give them credit for that, don’t you? They’ve said ‘look, this has been badly administered” – she said that.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: I can give them credit for it, albeit I’ll be a little bit cynical at the fact that they chose to do it on the day when President Yudhoyono was in town, when the Government was putting a big grandstanding on about Senate votes… and at so late in the day that it missed most media cycles…
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: What would you like to see done? For instance these 100,000 assessments that are parked in Canberra and will effectively mean now that those people will not, if they want to… will not be able to apply for a loan… that’s the practical implication of it because the scheme ends on March 22 now, prematurely, and banks have already pulled out… well, a lot of banks and credit unions…
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Virtually all of them… in fact if you’re no an employee of Alcoa you have no chance of getting a Green Loan now, that’s the simple truth of who’s left in the system… so there are three areas that the Government needs to address… the first relates to homeowners and, as you said, 100,000-plus homeowners who in good faith had home energy assessments undertaken under the system where they thought they could get a loan but who are now not going to be able to access a loan because all the financial institutions have pulled out… now, at the very least the Government needs to apologise to those homeowners, but frankly they should find a way for those homeowners who let assessors into their homes… participated in good faith… to actually get what they wanted to in the first place, which was a Green Loan.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Okay, so that’s one… you’re going to have to quickly go through these.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Yep, point two… you’ve got 9,300 trained assessors out there… the Government say they’re going to cap assessors at 5000 – that’s 4,300 assessors who won’t get work. Point three is the Government has no evaluation into how this program, which they’re going to continue to fund at $175 million is actually going to provide any environmental benefit, so they need to put into place an independent evaluation program.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Simon Birmingham, thank you… Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Action.