01.Insulation scheme collapses
The Australian Government's Energy Efficient Homes Package that provided households with free or subsidised insulation and solar hot water systems will now be replaced by a renewable energy bonus scheme. The new scheme will provide rebates of up to $1,000 for the installation of ceiling insulation or a solar hot water system, compared to the $1,200 rebate that currently goes to installers. Home owners will be able to claim the rebate through the Medicare system rather than installers claiming it directly.
Though the scheme - which began early last year - was aimed at creating jobs and help millions of households reduce their energy use and cut their power bills by up to $700 a year, poor ground administration of insulation installers derailed it. To date, four tradesmen have died in insulation-related incidents and nearly 90 house fires have been reported after new insulation were installed.
Acting on a tip-off earlier this month, CHOICE conducted a sting operation on Monash Insulation and Queensland State Insulation - two firms that were banned by the government from trading for breaching fire and safety procedures. We found out that the companies continued to trade through proxies - registered insulation installers - who were closely linked to the banned companies. The information was requested for a Senate Enquiry. Last week, Environment Minister Peter Garrett was forced to suspend the use of foil insulation after the latest death, and suspended Queensland company, Countrywide, amidst public concerns about its accreditation to operate.
Says CHOICE's sustainable policy officer, Kate Norris: "Consumers around Australia have enthusiasm to be more energy efficient. Choice hopes that government will provide a well-designed replacement scheme that lets consumers continue to realise this goal."
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