Environment Minister Peter Garrett’s incompetence has been highlighted in a key submission to an inquiry into the Rudd Government’s bungled Green Loans program, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Action Simon Birmingham said today.
The Association of Building Sustainability Assessors (ABSA), representing thousands of assessors badly affected by the Green Loans program’s appalling mismanagement, has detailed its attempts to bring concerns to the Government’s attention through the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA).
In particular, ABSA sought as early as last August to warn the Government about assessor numbers ballooning well beyond the 1000 the Rudd Government had indicated would be involved in the Green Loans program.
ABSA has also been the only organisation appointed to accredit assessors, although was given no responsibility for managing numbers and had no reason not to accredit those who met all accreditation criteria.
Included in ABSA’s submission is that:
  • ABSA repeatedly raised its concerns with DEWHA from August 2009 regarding the number of assessors relative to the number of funded assessments over the life of the Green Loans program and the number of assessors originally estimated by DEWHA.
  • DEWHA made it clear to ABSA that it did not have a view about how many assessors should be trained and accredited
  • Communication between ABSA and DEWHA (and DCCEE) continues to prove challenging. ABSA has attempted at all times to convey the sense of urgency, frustration and concern being felt by its members over a range of issues which were the responsibility of the Programs’ administrator, the Department.
  • ABSA receives daily complaints from its members about late or non-payment of invoices, inability to find out when these invoices will be paid or indeed if the invoices have ever been received by the Department.
“ABSA’s experiences with Green Loans are an indictment of Minister Garrett’s ability to manage and a deliver this program, including reacting to issues clearly being brought to his department’s attention,” Senator Birmingham said today.
“It is no surprise that responsibility for this program was stripped from Mr Garrett and handed to Penny Wong, but it is astounding that he remains a Minister let alone a Cabinet Minister.”
Senator Birmingham has written numerous letters to Senator Wong in relation to the program’s future as well as assistance for assessors.
“Of particular concern is Senator Wong’s confirmation that the Government oversaw the training of 4,300 more assessors than it now plans to have contracted, but her failure to yet explain how remaining assessor contracts will be offered.
“I look forward to this Senate inquiry fully exploring the issues surrounding this complete debacle of a program, but also to assisting and finding a way forward for the many Australians still hurting as a result.”