The Rudd Government can find nearly $50 million in budget savings by coming clean on its $50 Green Loans fib.
As well as leaving 100,000 Australians unable to access the promised loans, and thousands of assessors out of work, the bungled Green Loans program has involved a further broken promise in the form of a Green Rewards Card.
From July 2009, households receiving a home sustainability assessment under the failed program received a letter from Peter Garrett saying that
“to help you get started, my Department will shortly be sending you a $50 Green Reward Card which you can redeem at selected retail outlets to purchase eligible energy or water saving devices”.
With Penny Wong having assumed responsibility for the Green Loans program with no loans, two months ago she confessed:
“no Green Rewards Cards have been distributed to households to date. I have asked my department to provide further detail on how this might be addressed quickly, and will consider this matter further when I receive that advice.”
Senator Wong must have a different idea about “quickly”, because it’s been two months and still nobody has seen a Green Rewards Card or heard another word about them.
The Government has promised an extra 600,000 assessments, bringing the total to 960,000.
If the Government confesses that each of these 960,000 were never going to get their $50 shopping voucher, that’s $48 million in shopping vouchers it’ll save by not sending what was never going to be sent.
The Green Rewards Card was a fib from the beginning, was a fib two months ago, and remains a fib.
Senator Wong should apologise for her Government’s deception and come clean on this $50 fib. And while she’s apologising, Senator Wong should also apologise to the 9,300 assessors they allowed to be trained under this program, many of whom remain unemployed or underemployed.
It is high time she gave them some certainty on what their future holds.