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

Energy Efficient Homes Package; availability of insulation installers register; Traveston Dam; Opposition position on climate change

Doorstop interview, Opening of Bradford Insulation Plant, Brendale, Brisbane
29 June 2009

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GARRETT: It is a tremendous opportunity to be here with Jerry Maycock from CSR at this Bradford plant here in Brendale where we are now seeing the incredible ramping up of capacity in this facility which will be producing insulation for Australian homes and householders in large volumes.

And the commitment that the Government has made to the Energy Efficiency Home Plan is providing for the largest ever roll-out of energy efficiency this country has ever seen.

And this energy efficient roll-out is big, but it good for households because it reduces energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions, and it is good for employment, particularly as we are now in the position of having the provision of a register of provider/installers in place. And people will be able to go onto the website and identify an installer who can then put insulation in people's roofs.

From this Wednesday, there will be the provision for facilities for the rebate directly to go to that installer. And so, in many cases, Australian households won't have to pay a single cent extra to have insulation in their roofs. A streamlined process, the largest ever efficiency roll-out that this country has seen, and a significant reduction in energy costs - some 40 per cent or so for households - greenhouse gas emissions nearly 5 million tonnes CO2 equivalent this year, up to 50 million tonnes by 2020. And the provision of jobs - jobs in the community, jobs on the factory floor, jobs in distribution and jobs in instalment.

So this is a very good day for Australia, a very good day for Queensland and for Brisbane. To be in a facility, a factory like this, which is now working 24/7, where they are laying on more people, and where the product that they are producing will make a significant contribution to Australians reducing their greenhouse gas emissions in the future. I am happy to take any questions.

JOURNALIST: What is your message tonight to people sitting in living rooms, considering their energy bills? What would your message direct to them be?

GARRETT: Australians can get out now and put energy efficient insulation in their roofs and reduce their energy bills, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and it is easy to do. This government is providing the biggest ever energy efficiency program and Aussies it is time to get on board.

JOURNALIST: Minister, how much could the average household now save on their power bill?

GARRETT: They can save up to about 40 per cent or more on their power bill - that is a significant saving. But you know the other great thing about this program - not only does it provide that cost-saving in energy bills, not only does it reduce greenhouse gas emissions - but it works today, tomorrow, this year, next year, and for decades to come. So in summer, when we're a little hot, with energy efficiency and insulation, you're a little cooler. And in winter when we need to warm the place up, you don't have to run your heating as strongly. And because we do need to bring down our greenhouse gas emissions, this is the most cost effective way to do it.

And we now know that we have 50,000 applications or more for this program, nearly 3,000 registered on the installers register. And I think we are going to see a really phenomenal uptake on this program. Bear in mind, the government's ambition is to ensure that all those Australian homes that don't have appropriate levels of insulation, can be insulated. It is going to be happening in people's roofs. It might not necessarily be visible but when it gets to your power bill it certainly will be very noticeable that you have got that insulation in your roof.

JOURNALIST: Are you confident that it will keep going once the rebate scheme finishes however?

GARRETT: I am very confident that the additional measures that people can actually bring to bear in their houses, whether it is ceiling insulation, whether it is double glazing on glass, whether it is thinking about the way in which they might having awnings on their western windows, all of these measures I am confident that people will invest in over time.

Our desire was to provide Australians with the quickest, cheapest and most effective way of reducing their energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions. And ceiling insulation is the way to go. But all those other measures, that are there for households to take on board, they will flow out as people see how good energy efficiency actually is in the home.

JOURNALIST: But what about the 4,000 jobs that are created now. Are you confident that will continue?

GARRETT: I am confident that we will have a sustainable growth path for the building industry generally. And why do I say that? Because the requirements for new housing are such that there is a significant insulation and energy efficiency component there.

The National Energy Efficiency strategy that COAG is now bringing through makes clear that we are going to be increasing the energy efficiency ratings requirements not only for households but, in the longer term, we expect to see more energy efficiency measures come into play in the commercial sector as well.

So this is a growth industry for Australian manufacturing now because of the Rudd Government's commitment to the Energy Efficiency Home Plan. But it is also the way of the future for this industry because energy efficiency will be built in to all of the construction, household and commercial construction that this country needs to put up for years to come.

JOURNALIST: Do your figures take into account that a lot of the people who actually will take up this offer are low consumers of heating and cooling?

GARRETT: The figures are clear that, on average, you will see up to 40 per cent savings or more in terms of your energy costs, whether it is cooling costs or heating costs. Now, of course, your energy cost saving will vary from location to location, depending on where you live, and what climate zone you are in. But the fact is that energy efficiency provides three significant benefits - cost reduction, greenhouse gas reduction and increased comfort and living quality within the house. Now that is why this Government has taken this step. That is why I am so excited that we have a roll-out of this scale.

JOURNALIST: So it is choice between this insulation or solar hot water?

GARRETT: If you have ceiling insulation that is to an acceptable standard already, you still have the opportunity for a solar hot water rebate, that is a solar hot water rebate which will be met by more than 300,000 households. And solar hot water is a significant opportunity for, again, significant reduction in greenhouse emissions and energy costs as well.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible] Traveston Dam [inaudible] report yet?

GARRETT: I haven't received the report from Co-ordinator General on Traveston and until such time as I do, I won't have anything to say other than what I have already said.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible] position to be in the state that it is in at the moment [inaudible] healthy for democracy?

GARRETT: One thing I would say about the state that the federal Opposition is in after what clearly was an extraordinary week in the Parliament, is that today we seem to have Mr Robb and Mr Turnbull on different pages in relation to whether or not they are going to be putting up amendments now on the Government's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. And it absolutely critical that the Opposition sorts itself out and gets its act together. It is untenable for us to have legislation that has passed through the lower house of our Parliament, which was an election commitment by the Rudd Government, and to find that the Opposition Leader and one of his spokesman are at sixes and sevens over what they are going to do about the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

So I think that we are being very poorly served by the Opposition at the moment. Mr Turnbull clearly has made a significant hash of bringing through a coherent position for his Opposition on a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. And until such time as this Opposition becomes united and shows the capacity to put the national interest first then I am afraid we are all the worse for their antics.


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