The Senate has today highlighted the continuing failings of the Labor Government in relation to its Green Loans Program, including its failure to finalise contracts in a timely manner leaving thousands of trained assessors in limbo.
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary Simon Birmingham has welcomed the Senate’s endorsement of his motion*, but said action from the Government to address the thousands of people affected by its mismanagement was long overdue.
“It is nearly four months since Penny Wong as Energy Efficiency Minister took over the Green Loans mess from Peter Garrett, and outlined the steps she was supposedly taking to address the program’s many problems.
“Yet even today, trained assessors remain in limbo waiting for contracts to be finalised, contracted assessors are being paid late for the limited work they can now undertake, and there’s no word on when overdue audits and reviews into the Green Loans program will be finished, let alone whether their findings will be made public.
“The mismanagement of this program is a classic example that the flaws of the Labor Government lie with the entire Government, not just now former Prime Minister Rudd.
“Peter Garrett messed this up in the first place, while Penny Wong has failed to deliver on any of her promises to fix it up.
“Debacles like this can only be avoided by changing the government, not shuffling the leadership.
“It is high time Senator Wong addressed the very real concerns those who invested significant time and money in a bid to make a contribution to the environment as part of the Labor Government program.”
*The motion passed by the Senate today was:
“That the Senate note the continuing failings of the Rudd Government in relation to its Green Loans Program, despite Energy Efficiency Minister Senator Wong’s undertakings of 10 March to the Senate,  including:
         i.            The  training and accreditation of thousands more assessors than the Government first promised, had work for or ever intended to contract
       ii.            Systemic failures to process bookings for home sustainability assessments, return assessments to householders in a timely way or pay assessors for work undertaken in a timely way
      iii.            Its cancellation of the loans component of the Green Loans program, having provided only around one per cent of the 200,000 loans it promised at the 2007 election
     iv.            Its failure to finalise additional assessor contracts in a timely manner, leaving thousands of assessors in limbo and/or unemployed and without any offer of Government support
       v.            Delays in its conduct of audits and reviews into the Program, including reviews the Minister has indicated would inform the finalising of additional assessor contracts
     vi.            Its failure to commit to the public release of these audit and review findings
    vii.            Its failure to deliver a promised Green Rewards Card to householders and its expensive, bureaucratic alternative to the Green Rewards Card
 viii.            Its failure to implement, following the discontinuation of loans, any mechanism for evaluating the worth of assessments conducted at taxpayer expense 
     ix.            The Energy Efficiency Minister’s failure to acknowledge let alone respond to correspondence”