Green Groups Back Tax Plan; Green Loan Assessors Still Waiting
Key green groups, who have long endorsed the stalled trading scheme, joined a broad coalition yesterday of green groups, unions and welfare bodies that is calling on the government to adopt the tax proposed by the Greens. Meanwhile the Rudd government’s green loans scheme remains dysfunctional with hundreds of home sustainability assessors reporting that they are battling to survive due to delays in being paid.
Tom Arup reports for The Land (14 April 2010):
KEY supporters of the government’s climate-change policies are backing an alternative proposal for a two-year carbon tax to break a deadlock on the emissions trading scheme.
Key green groups, who have long endorsed the stalled trading scheme, joined a broad coalition yesterday of green groups, unions and welfare bodies that is calling on the government to adopt the tax proposed by the Greens.
The proposal, which has been lifted from the government’s Garnaut review into climate change, would tax greenhouse gases at $23 a tonne for two years and would use part of the money raised to compensate households and trade-exposed industries for cost increases.
The tax would be a precursor to an emissions trading scheme which caps the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by industry and requires companies to buy permits for each tonne of carbon that they want to emit.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, the coalition called on the government to act on climate change before the next federal election.
Adam Morton in The Age (16 April 2010):
April 16, 2010
THE Rudd government’s green loans scheme remains dysfunctional with hundreds of home sustainability assessors reporting that they are battling to survive due to delays in being paid.
Despite assurances that extra staff would ensure deadlines were met, an industry survey this month found 93 per cent of assessors were waiting more than the promised month to be paid. A third said it took more than two months; nearly one in 10 more than three months.
The Association of Building Sustainability Assessors said it got daily complaints about unpaid invoices and an unresponsive federal bureaucracy. Many of its members were battling debt, having taken out loans to set up green businesses.
Paul Barbieri, an assessor based in Cockatoo in Melbourne’s outer south-east, said he had been living on credit while waiting for the government to honour invoices worth $12,000. A former earth-mover, he said he had not been paid for work since Christmas.
”When I pull up the bowser to fill my truck with diesel, it costs a couple of hundred dollars and I’m hoping there is enough in the bankcard to cover it,” he said. ”I believe in the program and the things it will achieve, but I wouldn’t be part of it if I had my time over again.”
ABSA chairman Wayne Floyd said acute financial stress was common. ”Reading the member reports, we’ve advised some people to seek help from [depression support service] beyondblue,” he said.
Mr Floyd said there was no sign the green loans program had been run more effectively since responsibility for it was stripped from Environment Minister Peter Garrett and handed to Climate Change Minister Penny Wong in February.
Promised before the 2007 election, the scheme offered households a free environmental assessment and interest-free loans up to $10,000 to improve energy and water efficiency.
An ABSA submission to a Senate inquiry into the program said many faults had not been resolved since its introduction last July.
Some changes in February were welcome, but others had created new issues. An estimated 10,000 people have taken approved training programs, but the government limited the number of contracts to 5000 and introduced a personal cap of five assessments a week. It means the best-paid assessors can earn only $1000 a week.
The government also abolished the $10,000 loans and announced 600,000 extra sustainability assessments.
The association survey found 75 per cent of assessors believed the five-job weekly limit meant it was no longer viable to set up a sustainability business.
A Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency spokeswoman acknowledged some payments had not been fast enough, but said others had been held up due to incorrect invoices being submitted.
Acting Greens leader Christine Milne said an excellent scheme would crash if the rate of payment was not fixed.
Opposition climate action spokesman Greg Hunt said there had been no progress in fixing the program.