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

Senator The Hon Mark Arbib
Parliamentary Secretary for Government Service Delivery

Launch of the guidelines for the second phase of the insulation component of the Energy Efficient Homes Package; NSW logging operations; Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme

Joint doorstop interview, Federation Mall, Canberra
1 June 2009

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GARRETT: Thanks very much David. This is the second phase of the Energy Efficient Homes Plan which sees us release guidelines, operational from the first of July, for the continuing roll-out of the most effective, the most cost-effective and speediest way in which Aussies can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and their energy bills.

And whether it is pink batts or green batts, this is the largest ever roll-out of an energy efficiency program we have seen in this country and the Government is absolutely delighted at the uptake and the response that we have had. From industry - David from Fletchers [Insulation] and from others - the fact that you have got an investment of some $8 million in new plant and equipment in Dandenong, you have got your plant in Rooty Hill barrelling along as well - that we have over 25,000 applications already in place for energy efficiency, ceiling insulation, and that we have got 90,000 calls into the hotline for Australians who are really ready, willing and able to take advantage of this economic stimulus. A way of reducing energy costs for them and also providing significant employment opportunities in the industry.

One of the things to say about today is that this will mean that installers will have an opportunity to consider the phase two guidelines in their entirety, prepare themselves forthe task of meeting what clearly is going to be a significant demand from people to get ceiling insulation in their roofs. It also means that the work that we are doing with the Department and with the industry is paying fantastic benefits.

And I notice that the Insulation Council of Australia and New Zealand has identified prospective employment of around 4,000 jobs, indeed it could be more.

When we announced this Energy Efficient Homes Plan, as part of the Nation Building - Economic Stimulus Plan in February, we said that this would be the most comprehensive roll-out of energy efficiency that the country has ever seen. And it is proving to be just that. We are providing jobs. We are providing the opportunity for businesses to grow. We are providing the opportunity for householders in a way where they won’t require necessarily any upfront cash to get pink batts or green batts, ceiling insulation in their roofs, reducing their energy bills and their heating and/or cooling bills over a year by up to or morethan a third. And we are providing an opportunity for us to really roll-out energy efficiency on a scale that we have never seen before.

So this is a good day and I have to say that I am very, very strongly encouraged not only by the enthusiasm that Australians have shown for actually wanting to get pink batts and green batts in their roofs, but also for the fact that the Government’s public policy position on this was spot on. We’re wisely producing the opportunity for Australians to easily, quickly and cheaply and efficiently have the best energy efficiency in the homes. And we are providing the opportunity for great jobs growth and industry growth as a consequence of it.

So I am very pleased to be releasing these guidelines - first day of winter in Canberra - and for Australians, what better time to get energy efficiency into your roof, reduce your heating bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well?

And I might invite my colleague, Senator Mark Arbib, to add to those comments.

ARBIB: Thanks Peter. I really don’t have anything to add except this is part of the stimulus plan and when the stimulus package was put together, this was viewed as a way to get people into work quickly. And there are going to be thousands of jobs that actually come out of the insulation section of the plan.

On top of that, it is also a win for the environment, in terms of the amount of carbon that is going to be reduced, and it is also a win for the community. So this is a great part of the package.

Thank you to Fletchers for the work that they have been doing. They have actually put in plan, a training plan, now so that workers and tradespeople can train up in terms of installing insulation. This is going to be running for the next two and a half years - 2.9 million homes over the period are going to get insulation and that is just a fantastic result. And there are going to be people employed at all levels - small business, tradespeople, and labourers actually getting this work done. And that is what the stimulus package is about. So thank you to Fletchers for the work that they are doing and thank you to the Minister.

GARRETT: We're happy to take any questions.

JOURNALIST: Can I ask you about the superb parrot? What advice are you getting about the state government's plans to log the forests near Deniliquin?

GARRETT: In relation to the forestry operations in New South Wales, can I say a couple of things:

Firstly, I think there has been some confusion about what the Department has requested from New South Wales. There is no stop work order that has been issued. What Minister Macdonald and I have agreed is that we will continue negotiations to resolve some of those issues that are outstanding and need to be resolved between the Commonwealth and the state. And I am absolutely clear that we can resolve those issues. We may need a little bit more time to do it and we take the time that is necessary.

JOURNALIST: [INAUDIBLE] if environmentalists say you are not doing enough?

GARRETT: I think the key task here is to recognise that a sustainable forest industry and proper protection of the environment are our twin goals and objectives. Weintend to meet them. And if that means spending a little bit more time in discussion with New South Wales then that is what we should be doing.

JOURNALIST: So is logging going to end up stopping or being wound back in this area in the end?

GARRETT: Again, you will have seen from the statement that I released on Friday that I anticipate the negotiations with New South Wales continuing.I want those negotiations to happen as a matter of consequence and speed. I expect that will be the case and once we have concluded those negotiations, we will have more to say.

JOURNALIST: How many jobs will be created by this insulation thing, thousands was said?

GARRETT: Here's the great thing about the Government's Energy Efficient Homes Plan which sticks ceiling insulation in people's homes - it produces jobs. Some 4,000 jobs have been identified by the Insulation Council of Australia and New Zealand. We have already seen Fletchers - who we are here with today - take on another 55 people in their Melbourne operations. We have seen a strong feedback from installers right around the country, that they are building in capacity.

I think people probably still don’t realise the great ambition and the great reach of this program. This will be the biggest energy efficiency program that is rolled out not only in this country, but I’m saying on a per capita basis, it is equal to anything that is happening anywhere else around the world at the moment. This is a very, very significant energy efficiency infrastructure investment - very significant.

And as a consequence, not only will we have the sort of employment as these factories ramp up their operations and produce more, in the case of Fletchers pink batts, but we will also see the flow-ons. Through the tradies, through the transport networks, and for Australians who, on the first day of winter, can see that it is starting to get a bit chilly, now is the perfect time to get those pink batts up in your roof, to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, reduce your energy bills and employ Australians at the same time.

JOURNALIST: Just on emissions trading, Penny Wong says she is now going to work with the Greens and the cross-benches to try and get the scheme through the Parliament after the Opposition’s position. You’d be happy about that, a greener ETS?

GARRETT: The Government is more than willing to have negotiations with senators with a view to seeing thisETS proceed through the house. What a farce though today from the Opposition with Senator Joyce and other Nationals saying that they don’t believe in it at all, and they are very happy that it is dead in the water, in their minds. And yet the Opposition Leader is saying ‘Oh I still think at some time Australia will have an emissions trading scheme’. I mean this is an absolutely ridiculous and appalling contradiction from these people who haven’t been able to maintain a consistent position on an emissions trading scheme since day one.

So how the Opposition Leader intends to square the circle on a part of his party in his coalition, who are deadly opposed to an emissions trading scheme and who have said very clearly that, for them, delay is a no, whilst at the same time he is saying he thinks an emissions trading scheme is going to happen. Their lack of constructive, co-operative approach on this absolutely critical issue is an appalling, appalling example of the lack of leadership and the disarray that they are in. And the Government is absolutely committed to having those discussions with senators and with parties in the Senate with a view to seeing this ETS come through.

JOURNALIST: But negotiating with the Greens put the fear of god into business and other more conservative ends of society?

GARRETT: I think Minister Wong and others have been very clear about this. The Government has said all along that as part of our approach to dealing with dangerous climate change, a carbon pollution reduction scheme, including the significant negotiations and stakeholder involvement that has come through up to this point, is necessary. And we are committed to continuing to work with the Senate to ensure that we have a CPRS in place.

JOURNALIST: The Greens want a minimum greenhouse gas emission cut of five per cent by 2020, sorry that is the government that is five per cent, the Greens say absolute minimum of 25 per cent. What do you think?

GARRETT: There is clearly going to be some room for continued discussions with senators in that upper house. Let those discussions happen. I don't propose to add anything additional to that at the moment other than on the first day of winter, if you want to take the opportunity to put some ceiling insulation in your ceiling, you know what is going to happen? Your energy bills are going come down, your greenhouse gas emissions are going to come down and you are going to be employing Australians at the same time.

Thanks very much.


Commonwealth of Australia