The Coalition will today move* for a Senate inquiry into another environmental program bungled by the Rudd Government, affecting the livelihoods of thousands of Australians, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Action Simon Birmingham said today.
The Green Loans program, now stripped of loans, will join the Home Insulation Program as both a completely mismanaged initiative stripped from Peter Garrett’s Ministerial responsibilities and the subject of a Senate inquiry.
“While much public attention has rightly been paid to the disastrous Home Insulation Program and its associated fatalities and safety concerns, many Australians are hurting badly thanks to the Rudd Government’s Green Loans debacle,” Senator Birmingham said.
“Worst affected are the thousands of people who have made significant investments of time and money in becoming Home Sustainability Assessments having been misled by the Government on the life of the program and the numbers of assessors involved.
“Those who’ve succeeded in attaining accreditation have faced a dysfunctional and inequitable booking system.
“Many more thousands of Australians wanting to improve their home energy or water efficiency have been unable to apply for a Green Loan due to Government delays of up to six months in returning their pre-requisite Home Sustainability Assessment reports.
“Green Loans are scheduled to be discontinued from 22 March under last month’s announcement, but most financial institutions appear to have already withdrawn their loan products.
“Just as with the home insulation debacle, the total mismanagement of Green Loans has seen substantial waste of taxpayer dollars, caused hardship to thousands of business people and seriously damaged public confidence in environment programs.
“Only a Senate inquiry can fully explore the issues surrounding this complete debacle of a program, as well as hopefully providing some comfort and finding a way forward for the many Australians hurting as a result.”
*Senator Birmingham will today move, on behalf of the Coalition:
That the following matters be referred to the Environment, Communications and the Arts References Committee for inquiry and report by 21 June 2010:
(a) The Federal Government’s Green Loans program, with particular reference to:
i. the administration of the program from a pricing, probity and efficiency perspective, including:
A. the basis on which the Government determined the amounts of the loan to be made available and Government subsidy thereof;
B. regulation of Home Sustainability Assessment practices, including the promotion of Assessments;
C. accreditation of Home Sustainability Assessors;
D. ensuring value for money for taxpayers;
E. waste, inefficiency and mismanagement within the program;
F. ensuring the program achieves its stated aims of improving water and energy efficiency; and
G. the consultation and advice received from financial institutions regarding their participation.
ii. an examination of:
A. employment and investment in home sustainability assessments resulting from the program, including that resulting from Government statements regarding the number of accredited assessors;
B. the effectiveness of the booking system;
C. the effectiveness and timeliness of Home Sustainability Assessment reports being provided;
D. the early reduction by the Government in the number of Green Loans to be offered, and subsequent discontinuation of the Loans, including by financial institutions in advance of the Government’s announced date of discontinuation;
E. homeowner actions for which Green Loans have been sought and approved;
F. the level of evaluation of homeowner action following any Home Sustainability Assessment;
G. what advice was provided to the Government on the feasibility and effectiveness of the Green Loans program, including to what degree the Government acted on this advice;
iii. an analysis of the effectiveness of the program as a means to improve the water and energy efficiency of homes, including comparison with alternative policy measures;
(b)Consideration of measures to reduce or eliminate waste and mismanagement, and to ensure value for money for the remainder of the program, noting the commitment of funding for an additional 600,000 free Home Sustainability Assessments despite the discontinuation of the loans.
(c) Other related matters.