The Australian Greens say they’ve been assured that all the money originally allocated for the solar hot water rebate program is still available to support the industry.
Deputy leader Christine Milne is meeting with junior climate change minister Mark Dreyfus on Wednesday to discuss how the money could be delivered.
AAP understands the main options being considered are a new mini funding round or some kind of structural adjustment package. There could be an announcement in the next week.
In late February Labour announced that the renewable energy bonus scheme was closing immediately.
That meant only systems ordered, purchased or installed before February 28 would be eligible for a rebate of up to $1000.
The Greens condemned the move at the time saying the scheme should not have been cancelled early, but extended.
But on Wednesday, Senator Milne was sounding much more conciliatory.
She said the Greens were initially concerned that Labour was trying to save the money set aside for 2012/13 because there had been a clear trend towards an underspend in the 2011/12 financial year.
“I’ve now been reassured by the minister that the $24.5 million that was set aside in next financial year is still there,” Senator Milne told reporters in Canberra.
“So that is for this solar hot water program and the issue is how to make sure we maintain activity in that manufacturing sector right now when it’s so badly needed.”
In 2011/12, some $63.5 million was budgeted for the solar hot water initiative. A further $24.5 million was earmarked for 2012/13.
Senator Milne refused to say exactly how any remaining money could be delivered, but said a private member’s bill from opposition climate action spokesman Greg Hunt wasn’t the answer because it only maintained the status quo.
“What we want to make sure is that we not only maintain the funding in this financial year but maintain the $24.5 million in next financial year.”
A spokeswoman for Mr Dreyfus said the government was continuing to meet with industry to stress that other support was continuing.
This support will be delivered in the form of the government’s carbon tax which would create a stable long-term market, she said, as well as the renewable energy target, the $800 million clean technology investment program and the $330 million low carbon communities program.
by Australian Solar Quotes