Environment Minister Peter Garrett should take advantage of a tailor-made opportunity tomorrow to announce a much needed backflip on the Rudd Government’s unpopular solar rebate means test, Senator Simon Birmingham said today.
“The solar industry, environmental groups and unions have all attacked with good reason the $100,000 household means test on the rebate of up to $8000 for installing solar panels,” Senator Birmingham said today.
“The means test has been a double whammy for the environment and the economy, with a loss of carbon reduction and also jobs as a result of millions of dollars in solar business drying up.
“So presumably Mr Garrett has a sweetener planned for when he addresses the ATRAA Conference and Exhibition for the solar PV and small wind industries in Melbourne tomorrow morning.
“This conference is an annual forum for Australian installers, distributors and suppliers of solar energy products and services, people who won’t be interested in hearing from Mr Garrett unless he’s announcing a change to the Rudd Government’s rebate policy.
“Mr Garrett clearly bought time for this announcement by ordering his Environment Department officials responsible for the solar rebate program’s administration to pull out of appearing at last Friday’s Senate committee inquiry hearing in Canberra.
“He must at least announce measures to ease the pain now for a solar industry hurting as a result of the Rudd Government’s ill considered policy.
“Mr Garrett infamously said during last year’s election campaign ‘once we get in we’ll just change it all.’
“We hadn’t expected the Rudd Government to be so swiftly changing its own policies, but a change to its disastrous solar rebates means test will be welcomed.
“If Mr Garrett is not announcing a backflip tomorrow, I hope he’s taking a hard hat for the flak he’ll rightly cop.”