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Transcript
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP

Interview with Darren James, Peter Farris QC and Roseanne Mitchie
3AW - Sunday Morning Program
Sunday, 6 April 2003

Subject: Launch of Queen Victoria Markets Solar Panel Installation


Darren James:
We're actually going out to the Queen Victoria Market because the largest solar panel installation in the southern hemisphere has this morning been opened by Federal Environment Minister Doctor David Kemp and Melbourne Lord Mayor John So.

The Queen Victoria Market's roof is now home to 1,328 new shiny panels designed to give Melbourne's historic shopping complex a 30 per cent reduction in the amount of electricity absorbed every year.

On the line now from the Market is Doctor David Kemp. And after the big opening, he joins us. Doctor David Kemp, good morning.

Dr Kemp:
Good morning, Darren.

Peter Farris:
Good morning.

James:
This has got to be good for the environment and good for Melbourne, good for the Market. It's a triple win situation.

Dr Kemp:
It is, it's the triple bottom line in practice. It's going to be terrific for the environment. It's not only going to deliver clean green power to the Market, but it's going to also cut back on greenhouse gas emissions, so we're making a contribution to fighting global warming as well. This is a terrific innovation, and the City of Melbourne has done a very good job in bringing it to fruition.

Roseanne Ritchie:
David, are there any other public buildings that the technology can now be applied to?

Dr Kemp:
Well, look, obviously there are, Roseanne. The Market is particularly well-suited, because although the builders didn't know it, they lined up the roofs in exactly the right direction. So they're facing to the north, and that means that it's the perfect location for these solar panels. But there are many opportunities to use solar panels now on private homes and public buildings, and our Government certainly wants to encourage that.

Farris:
And Doctor, do we get a grant? I mean, does the Government pay for these panels, if we do all these wonderful things and put it on our roofs, do we get a grant for it?

Dr Kemp:
Yes, is that Peter, yes, Peter. We gave them, the City of Melbourne, $750,000 --

Farris:
No, no, no, for private homes. All … we've got all the citizens out here, they all put out their hands, they want solar panels, but they want a Government grant to assist them. Do they get that?

Mitchie:
And to get some incentives.

Dr Kemp:
They do, they get a Government grant of $7,500. We put $31 million into that program. There's been a tremendously enthusiastic take-up of it. Obviously people want to have these panels.

Farris:
So how do they get it? How do they go about … so if you've just got an ordinary suburban house and you want to put a solar panel on, you can get a seven and a half thousand dollar grant, how do they go about getting it?

Dr Kemp:
Well, they do that through the agent who sells them the panel, and they've got a … they make an application, and then the Government receives the application. When the panel's installed, they can get the grant.

James:
Okay. And … well, when you get down to the water tank factor, as well as saving water, we could have greenhouses everywhere across the country.

Dr Kemp: Well, look, I think everyone's becoming much more environmentally conscious with this, and in fact I'm working with local governments in Melbourne and elsewhere on the water situation. Because we want to encourage people to economise on water, and the local governments have got a big role to play here in telling their communities just how they can save water, and use it much more efficiently.

There's a program that's been put in place by the International Council for Local Government, Environmental Initiatives, and the Federal Government is also working with them.

Farris:
What about water tanks for suburban homes? Can we get a Government grant for those?

Dr Kemp:
Well, there are various issues there. They are controlled by the State Government and the water authorities in each city. They're not something that the Federal Government's particularly involved in, as such. What we want to do is to help raise the consciousness of people, that if we look after the environment, the environment's going to look after you.

James:
What about a national water policy? We were talking about this on the Gardening Program, prior to 10, when the Federal Government does come in and there's a big master plan about water in this very dry country.

Dr Kemp:
Well, we do of course have a national plan now to help restore the Murray-Darling basin, which has become very badly degraded. Lot of salinity around. Lot of agricultural land being destroyed, if the salt comes up from the water tables.

And the Prime Minister has put in place a national action plan with all the states and with local communities and local governments to bring the land back to a healthy state, and to put water back into the rivers.

And that action plan is now rolling out, and later this year, in October, we'll be considering the whole issue of more water into the Murray River to cut down the salt content and deliver fresher water to the farmers and to Adelaide particularly, which relies on the Murray River.

Farris:
Would the Federal Government support a program which mirrors the idea of the solar panels, but for water tanks, and the Federal Government fund a grant to householders to put tanks in? Wouldn’t you support that?

Dr Kemp:
Well, in principle that's not a bad idea. The Federal Government has always got to take into account of course which other governments are doing these activities. We don't just want to come in and replace what other people are doing.

Farris:
No, but a national policy…

James:
Yeah, national policy.

Farris:
…would be a good idea, wouldn't it?

Dr Kemp:
Well, certainly the water program that we're putting into place with the International Council for Local Initiatives on the Environment is going to show how people can save water and utilise water --

Farris:
But I'm talking about money. Look, let's get to the bottom line. It's really not going to happen unless the Federal Government's going to put up the sort of money they're putting up for solar panels. So would you support diverting some Federal funds to put water tanks in the urban areas?

Dr Kemp:
Well, Peter, I said that's a good idea in principle. But there are already tanks going in, and it is actually a saving for householders to -- on their water bills -- where we're now charging for water, don't forget. It's user pays, the water, and can be a very good idea provided it meets the health requirements. So, although I'm seeming that I may be ducking your question, the fact is…

Farris:
No [laughs].

Dr Kemp:
…there is now a good incentive for people to put these tanks in…

Farris:
Well, there's always --

Dr Kemp:
…and some local governments are encouraging them.

Farris:
It's a good idea and it's a good incentive. I'm just trying to prise some money out of the Federal Government pocket to…

Dr Kemp:
Yeah, I can hear that, Peter…

Farris:
…support it.

Dr Kemp:
…and I'm very experienced at hearing people trying to prise money out of our pockets, so I'm very cautious about money away --

Farris:
I'm not the first. I thought I was the first. [All laugh.]

James:
All right, just to finish up, Doctor Kemp, how does a Minister open up a big solar panel on the roof? Is it a mirror that bounces a light to an electric motor which opens a curtain? [All laugh.]

Farris:
No, no, you break a champagne bottle on the panel.

James:
How did you do it?

Kemp:
Well, the Lord Mayor and I went up in a cherry picker, and we waved our hands at the sun, and then we waved them at the solar panels, and lo and behold, the solar panels are producing power now, that's actually helping to drive the Victoria Market. So we thought that was a pretty good way of doing it.

Farris:
Not a bad trick, is it.

James:
Absolutely. [All laugh.] Yes, good on you, Doctor David Kemp. Thanks for joining us opening the big solar panels on the roof of the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne.

I was part of the opening of a substation, a power plant which is in Cranbourne, and I was hosting the launch there with the Federal Minister for the … the State Minister for the Environment, Theo Theophanous, the Honourable. And we had a big crane.

I mean, cranes feature in openings, and this was the turning of the first sod, and a big bucket of sand came and dropped it down, and he shovelled the sand off the tray, and then a plaque mysteriously appeared once the crane took off again. Oh, it was huge.

* * END * *

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