The Rudd Government must guarantee the future of the solar rebate program, after refusing even to commit to it still being available by the New Year.
A failure to commit more funding means the program is surviving only on a week-by-week basis.
Under questioning in Senate Estimates, Senator Penny Wong has dodged questions about the life left in the rebate program, with a departmental official able to offer only:
“Future support for the solar industry would be considered in the context of the national energy efficiency strategy, and the government’s response to the (emissions trading) green paper.”
“Under the Coalition Government, the solar rebate program was entirely demand-driven and enjoyed a solid five-year commitment,” Shadow Environment Minister Greg Hunt said.
“The failure of Senator Wong and Mr Garrett to provide any certainty to this scheme and the attempt to limit access to solar energy for mums and dads on $51,000 each is unacceptable.
“The Government must guarantee the future of the solar rebate,” Mr Hunt said.
“The $100,000 household means test has been shown to be a total policy failure,” Deputy Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts, Senator Simon Birmingham said.
“It has shut out many hard-working Australian families and thrown a cloud of uncertainty over the entire solar industry. Carbon emissions aren’t means tested, so why should solar power be means tested?
“Rather than taking an axe to the solar rebate and all it has done for the environment and renewable energy industry, the Rudd Government should axe its means test and guarantee the future of the rebate.”