The Baillieu Government must rethink its decision to axe emergency assistance to low-income Victorians to repair or replace essential appliances, Labor Member for Western Victoria, Gayle Tierney said today.
“Mr Baillieu’s choice to axe the Home Wise program is shameful and will leave many people in Portland out in the cold this winter,” Ms Tierney said.
“Home Wise is an important program that provides no-cost assistance to low-income Victorians who cannot afford to repair or replace essential faulty appliances such as hot water services, wall heaters, refrigerators, washing machines, generators, wall heaters, leaking water pipes, upright stoves, water tanks, toilets and leaking gas pipes.
“The Baillieu Government’s explanation that the program is being replaced by a new scheme for water and energy efficient appliances is nothing more than spin.
“While the Opposition supports promoting increased energy-efficiency, it should not be at the expense of a program that covers funding for fixtures as well as appliances.”
Ms Tierney said that by cutting the Home Wise program Mr Baillieu was turning his back on families who had fallen on hard times.
“This heartless action from the Baillieu Government simply isn’t fair, and will make life very difficult for those who can least afford it.
“What Mr Baillieu has failed to understand is how tough it can be for ordinary families when something like a home water heater fails and need immediate assistance.”
Shadow Minister for Cost of Living Lily D’Ambrosio said Mr Baillieu must explain what would happen to those families who had submitted incomplete applications for Home Wise as at 3 May, 2011.
In 2009-10, Labor provided $17.6 million for the Home Wise program, compared to the paltry $2.5 million allocated annually to the Baillieu Government’s replacement program,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.
“This $15 million shortfall is another example of Mr Baillieu turning his back on those who most need help.
“Mr Baillieu should rethink his choice to dump the Home Wise Hardship program and ensure low-income Victorians continue to have the support they need this winter.”