THE Federal Government’s sudden decision to pull the plug on a solar hot water rebate has left Cairns businesses high and dry, Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch says.
Mr Entsch yesterday blasted the Government for scrapping the Renewable Energy Scheme’s Solar Hot Water Rebate to new customers as of midnight on Tuesday (February 28), comparing the program to the disastrous home insulation scheme.
Cairns plumbing businesses and solar hot water system suppliers contacted Mr Entsch’s office this morning, outraged at the decision.
“The Government has yet again pulled a rebate without warning businesses who have invested in the solar hot water scheme,” Mr Entsch said.
“We have successful, competent businesses being done over by an incompetent government. They have answered the government’s call to provide the service, offered their expertise and have expanded to meet the scheme’s requirements.
“They’ve put on additional staff, bought more vehicles, allocated more building space, invested in training and certification and paid to promote the scheme.
“And without any warning whatsoever, the Government decides to scrap the rebate.”
The Renewable Energy Bonus Scheme provided a $1000 rebate for a solar hot water system and $600 for a heat pump.
Mr Entsch will write to Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Minister Greg Combet demanding that the rebate for new customers be extended for six months so businesses who had committed to the program could sell and install their current stock of systems.
Mr Entsch said the Government’s decision had the potential to close down small businesses that relied on the rebate scheme to sell solar hot water systems.
“This smacks of the Pink Batts fiasco, a Government scheme that squandered millions of dollars to clean up the mess they made and sent many businesses in our region bankrupt,” he said.
“Despite the promises made to several small businesses that they would be fully compensated, many were destroyed. They were lumped with the costs of leftover batts and a tarnished reputation from their association with a Government program that failed so miserably.
“Yet again, with the decision last night to scrap the solar hot water rebate, the Government is threatening to bring down another industry.
“Whether this decision has been made because the Government wants to save money or lacks the ability to manage such a costly program doesn’t matter. They are destroying small businesses.”