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

Conclusion of the Solar Homes and Communities Plan and commencement of Solar Credits under the Renewable Energy Target legislation; Senator Brown's court cosrs; Tarkine Road proposal

Doorstop interview, Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices, Melbourne
9 June 2009

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GARRETT: Thanks for coming in this morning on the day in which the Government announces the release of the final legislation for an expanded Renewable Energy Target.

This expanded Renewable Energy Target will see a significant investment in renewable energy technologies across the nation generating around $20 billion of new investment in renewables.

And today we also announce that, as a consequence of the release of the legislation, the Government is advising that Solar Credits are now available for families, for businesses, for farmers, for people right around Australia, to put solar panels on their roofs. And applications for the solar panel rebate itself will conclude today as we move in a smooth transition to Solar Credits.

I need to point out that under this Government we have had the deployment of more solar panels on roofs over the last 12 months than at any time in our history.

And the original commitment that the Government had of some $150 million for solar panels has been increased some four-fold with support up to $700 million for solar panels for rebates through the rebates Solar Homes and Communities Plan.

Critically, there are over 63,000 solar panel rebate applications that have not yet been fulfilled. We believe that there are such a large number of solar panels to be installed that there is a year's worth of installation to be undertaken by this industry, whilst at the same time Solar Credits will become available for people who wish to put solar panels or have wind power or even hydro in their homes, in their businesses and in their communities.

The Government's commitment to solar has meant that the solar industry has gone through a period of substantial growth and it is now very well placed to take advantage of the solar credits.

The Solar Credits are fantastic for Australians. They are not means tested. Solar Credits - non-means tested - will be available to farmers, to fish and chip shop owners, to communities right around Australia.

And this will see a continuation of the deployment of solar technologies but it will also mean that for communities, for families - wherever they are - they have the opportunity to get into solar panels. They have the opportunity to put wind turbines on the roofs, around their homes, around their businesses.

Critically, the Government has significant investment in solar and that significant investment goes through the Solar Homes Program. We have some significant investment identified in Solar Flagships and now with Solar Credits, we will see a substantial continuation of support and deployment of solar panels in Australia.

Finally, just to say that when we look at the necessary steps that governments have to take it is very clear that the solar panel rebate needs now to transition to Solar Credits to provide a firm foundation over the future for the solar industry to continue to provide solar panels but in a way which is non-means tested which applies to families, it applies to communities, it applies to businesses. And it greatly increases the scope of the deployment of solar technologies in Australia.

So we're confident that there will be significant opportunities for families, communities and businesses to take up Solar Credits as the legislation - now introduced - will provide for that available. And we recognise that this continuing investment in solar right around Australia is something which will engender great support from the Australia community.

JOURNALIST: When does this new system take effect?

GARRETT: The Renewable Energy Target legislation which is released today will provide for Solar Credits to be made available from today. This means that for anybody who seeks to apply for Solar Credits, once the legislation is passed and the regulations are tabled, then the renewable energy regulator will be able to provide for those credits to be applied to any system that is installed.

JOURNALIST: And when is the legislation to go through?

GARRETT: The legislation is a high priority for the Government. It is a crowded legislative agenda but we expect that legislation to go through soon. I would certainly call on the Opposition to support the Renewable Energy Target legislation. Here is an opportunity for the Opposition to get behind solar credits, recognising that they are a firm and sure pathway for the solar industry in the future.

JOURNALIST: If there is a delay, is it going to have any impact on the system itself?

GARRETT: What is clear is that over the last month we have seen large numbers of applications for the solar panel rebate and there are now so many applications in the system that this industry has 12 months of work already in place to get up its solar panels. And with Solar Credits coming through, as well, significant opportunities for continuing to put solar panels on the roofs of families, of businesses and of communities right around Australia.

So there is absolutely no doubt that the significant amount of investment that the Government has brought into the Solar Homes and Communities Plan has meant that the industry has been able to provide significant solar panels for people up to this point in time and, at the same time, there is still 12 months of work in the pipeline for them. That being the case, it is appropriate and necessary for us to provide a transition into Solar Credits. That transition will mean that the industry will have a sure path for work from now on.

JOURNALIST: Can I just ask you about Bob Brown? Do you think it is fair that he has to pay that money?

GARRETT: I have some sympathy for Senator Brown's predicament but at the end of the day, if you are going into the business of taking court action to challenge decisions then you are bound by the decisions that the court makes. And in this instance the costs that have been awarded which Senator Brown has to meet are ones that he has to actually find the wherewithal to pay.

JOURNALIST: Still in Tasmania. Have you had any advice about the Tarkine road?

GARRETT: I haven't had any specific advice that has come to me yet on the matter of the Tarkine road. There is an expectation that the Tarkine road will be referred for EPBC consideration, but that hasn't happened up to this point in time. And there is nothing that has come to me on the Tarkine road as yet.

Thanks very much.


Commonwealth of Australia