|Green Loans Program|
|Written by Alex Hawke|
|Tuesday, 23 February 2010 23:41|
Mr HAWKE (Mitchell) (8:50 PM) —In a week in which we have seen the government rocked by scandals in the home insulation sector, I rise tonight to speak about another epic tale of government failure that has hit people in my electorate of Mitchell. I refer of course to the green loans scandal that is plaguing this government, which again is affecting real lives and real people in our community, particularly in my electorate.
Kevin Rudd and Peter Garrett went to the last election promising to:
It was a worthy objective and of course something which many in our community would laud. In the 2009 budget, however, this was quietly downsized. Their promise went from providing 200,000 green loans to instead providing 75,000 green loans. While this is a massive cut—in fact a 62.5 per cent cut to the number of promised loans—it was, again, a worthy initiative and something which we could all support and laud. However, seven months into this financial year, only 1,008 of the 20,000 loans budgeted for have been provided—let alone the 200,000 that were promised in 2007.
In his 8 May 2009 media release, Peter Garrett said that there would be ‘1,000 home sustainability assessors’. On 20 August 2009 the secretary of the environment department also told the Australian Economic Forum that the program would be delivered through ‘training 1,000 home sustainability assessors to undertake 360,000 audits’. I rise tonight to say that, instead of training 1,000 assessors as promised, Peter Garrett and the Rudd government have trained 3,648 assessors without ever announcing their intention to increase this number. What we see here is the reduction from 200,000 loans to 20,000 loans, with only 1,008 loans being delivered; yet, with a promise of only 1,000 assessors, we have 3,648 assessors who have been trained. Little wonder, then, that we have mismanagement and the creation of a crisis which has affected real people hard in my electorate.
People in my electorate have contacted me in recent weeks about this program. I want to relate the stories of some of those who have approached me and what they feel about how this government is handling this program and mismanaging it. A gentleman from Baulkham Hills approached me and said:
After interviewing 5 solar hot water panel company reps (a total of about 6 hours) and spending about a dozen hours reading material on relative panel efficiencies, and having had the mandatory home assessment done in October 2009, I last week submitted my Green Home Loan to Westpac. Today (22 February) I am informed that the Government Home Loan website is down, has been thus for three weeks and so my application cannot proceed at this time.
Take the example of the Baulkham Hills woman who contacted me this week and said:
I have not been able to get through or book any assessments since before Christmas. I have tried many times without success. For example today (2 February) I have tried 5 times.
There was also a retired woman who found that, due to the global financial crisis, her investments were not going well and were unable to provide her with a level of support. She comments about this program:
I am facing financial ruin and saw this program as a way to earn an income and make a contribution to conserving the resources of the planet.
Then there was the Castle Hill homeowner who wanted to take up this program and who said:
We were in the process of having the assessment done to apply for a $10,000 loan to install a 3kw solar energy system. If the Government is serious about encouraging people to switch to greener forms of energy there must be financial incentives to enable this to happen. I feel that stopping the Loans Scheme is a real step backwards along the road to making Australia a more sustainable pace.
I want to record that these people are not rent seekers or disgruntled Liberals; these are real, aspirational people, working to do better for themselves and trying to make a difference to the future of our planet. There are many more examples across Australia.
I want to record that I believe this to have been a good policy idea—good because it was self-funding and good because it enabled people to act on their good instincts and do the right thing by the environment. However, this program has failed because of horrific mismanagement by this minister and the government. The most serious consequence of this mismanagement is that it is a huge step backwards for the idea of self-funding initiatives that give people a hand up and not a handout. We know that governments cannot and will not fund a sustainable future. It must be achieved by citizens taking action, and the failure of this program will make this task all the more difficult.