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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

Energy Efficient Homes, $42 billion Nation Building and Jobs Plan

Interview with Jono & Dano, The Jono & Dano Show, Australian Radio Network
3 February 2009

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DANO: Jono and Dano driving you home and joining us now a man who knows a little bit about rock n' roll...

JONO: And knows a little bit about insulation.

DANO: He certainly does. As you may have heard today $42 billion was announced by the Prime Minister...

JONO: Kevin Rudd.

DANO: spending. You know, tied in as well with the Reserve Bank coming out and reducing interest rates by 1 per cent. There must be a bit of a mood going through Canberra at the moment. Joining us right now, the Minister for Environment, Arts and Heritage, Mr Peter Garrett. Good afternoon to you, sir.

GARRETT: Good afternoon, boys.

DANO: How are you?

GARRETT: Look, we've just come out of the House and I guess with my political hat on I am really pleased that we've got this really big $3.9 billion commitment to energy efficiency through insulation for over two million homes and also the rebate for solar hot water being increased and the means test coming off it. So, we're going to see really strong action happening in Australian households. It means that people will be able to get insulation into their ceilings. It will reduce their energy costs. It will reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that they're kicking up into the atmosphere and it will employ people.

DANO: Now Pete, is this also for people who may be renters as well?

GARRETT: Yeah, we've also increased the rebate for renters up to $1000, so for rental homes there is the opportunity there for landlords to stick insulation into homes as well. Look, one of the things about the whole energy efficiency, climate change, environment debate is that insulation is the most cost effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower your energy bills and it is something which is primarily made up of Australian suppliers and manufacturers. It will employ local Australian's in terms of insulation...ah, installation.

DANO: Installation. It's interesting. We've had the education revolution, would you say this is the insulation revolution, Pete?

GARRETT: Yeah, I definitely do want to say that Dano. I think it definitely is the insulation revolution and you know, it is the sort of thing that I have been arguing very strongly that we needed to really get into. We knew that energy efficiency is a big part of the equation of reducing your costs and reducing your greenhouse gas emissions and this is going to provide incredible opportunities for that to happen. This will be the biggest, largest scale deployment of insulation that the country has ever seen.

JONO: And that has got to be good for Australian jobs because we're thinking about solar panels, we're thinking about water tanks and now insulation and that is going to effect 2.7 million homes.

DANO: That's huge.

GARRETT: Yeah, it is amazing isn't it? And I think the thing about it is that installers – you need quite a few people when you're installing insulation – I notice that one of the guys from I think it was Fletcher Insulation, said that he reckons that there is probably 3000 to 4000 thousand jobs in it from his perspective. Look, the thing is that it is a way of actually immediately doing something about what is a really difficult economic situation but it is also doing it in a way which actually provides a benefit to people. We're going to be employing people. We're going to be reducing their energy costs by about 40 per cent probably, of heating and cooling costs when you get insulation, so it's a significant saving you've got.

JONO: Absolutely, now Peter we're going to take a middle ground here as well, what is the Opposition saying about this? Are they going to back the new ideas? Are they finding a few loopholes here and there?

GARRETT: Look, we really didn't get a sense of that from them in question time and from Malcolm Turnbull's reply to the Prime Minister. I think I would be very, very surprised and pretty disappointed if a) they didn't support the package – it's $42 billion the nation building and jobs plan and it as you know, goes out to things like continuing to build the education revolution, providing some significant $950 one-off payments for low income households and individuals and then this area of actually delivering on energy efficient homes and that program. I think it is something which they should be supporting and I very much hope they will.

DANO: Yeah well, Peter, Joe Hockey this morning was on the TV saying that you're throwing money around like drunken sailors. How much thought has been going into exactly how much money and where it is going to be spent?

JONO: And how many drunken sailors will there be and in fact I think it is an insult to drunken sailors everywhere.

GARRETT: Yeah, well that's right. We haven't been figuring it out down at The Rocks on a Friday night, I can tell you that. Look, a lot of thought and care has gone into it and if you look at what countries in other parts of the world are doing in terms of what is called ‘fiscal stimulus’ – you know, that is really trying to get the economy revved up again because there is such significant economic issues and difficulties – this is in line with that kind of investment level. But it is specifically targeted in such a way to provide immediate opportunities for employment; immediate opportunities for the delivery of infrastructure, particularly in the schools where it is about $14.7 billion and that is new science labs, it is language learning centres and the like. And that's quite often things that P and C's and the local school know that they have got to get done

DANO: Yes it's a massive rollout and I have just got to say, when are we going to expect people to knock on our front doors and say ‘we're here to do the insulation’?

JONO: And where are the kid's rooms so we can insulate the kids as well?

GARRETT: Well, we'll be going from July 1 there will be a 1800 number. All you will have to do is make a booking. And we'll be working pretty closely with the local insulation industry so they're geared up and ready to go.

JONO: Well if you need Jono and Dano to come out and do a little bit of pink batts in the old insulation area, you know that we are skilled in that area, Peter.

GARRETT: Well, when we're on 2.2999 million and we want to get to 2.3 guys, you might be working Sunday's.

JONO: Peter Garrett, thanks very much for joining us Minister.

GARRETT: Thanks, boys.

DANO: Okay, see ya.


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