Australian Opposition party lobbies government to restore solar hot water rebate scheme

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The Australian coalition government will be introducing a Private Member’s Bill this week demanding the government commit to the remaining funding it had allocated towards the solar hot water rebate scheme.

The Liberal Opposition has already accused the government of taking AUD$24.5 million from the 2012-13 budget, but now with the support of the Green Party, it hopes it can save the AUD$64.5 million already set aside for 2011–12 for the solar industry. The Liberals state this will be a test of the Green Party’s commitment to the sector. Leader Greg Hunt said, “A failure to support the bill will be an indication that the Greens are putting politics before principles.”

Sky News reported that the Green Party’s deputy leader Christine Milne has said her party is in discussions with the government about the best way to cushion the industry from the impact of a high Australian dollar.

The Liberal Party’s website states that Australians will suffer from a “double whammy” in the form of funding cuts for the rebate scheme and a carbon tax effective July 1, increasing gas prices by as much as 9%.

The website continues: “The Gillard Government has a consistent disregard for business. Whether it’s the bungled home insulation scheme, the green loans scheme or live exports, it has shut down programs and industries without notice or consultation.

“Business owners need to be able to plan for the future with confidence. The sudden closure of the Solar Hot Water Rebate Scheme has put the jobs and livelihoods of thousands of Australians at risk.

“It is yet another example of an incompetent and dysfunctional government. It is also further evidence that the Prime Minister is more interested in her job than the jobs of workers. Julia Gillard dismisses job losses as “growing pains”.”

Parliamentary secretary Mark Dreyfus maintains that the government has always been transparent regarding these cuts, stating that its policy had not changed since the previous administration which had set the deadline as June 30.

He also said, there is a chance other programs could be initiated to assist the industry if any money remains unspent from the scheme.

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