TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — My question is for the Minister for
Environment and Climate Change. Can the minister inform the house of how the
Brumby Labor government is helping households in regional Victoria reduce
JENNINGS (Minister for Environment and Climate Change) — I thank Ms Tierney for the
opportunity to respond to her question and for her concern for the wellbeing of
the financial viability of Victorian households, particularly in regional
Victoria, and also the support provided by the Brumby Labor government in terms
of trying to provide for not only their financial benefit but also an
environmental benefit in the way they heat their hot water.
Many members of this chamber will be aware that there have been
pre-existing government programs to support the installation of solar hot water
systems, but previously these systems have been available only to those in our
community who seek to upgrade their gas hot water systems. We recognised
recently that there was a gap in the policy cover of those issues, particularly
as they relate to people in regional Victoria who may only have access to
electric hot water systems and may not have been able to receive the benefits of
access to a solar hot water system.
Certainly there are a number of households — about 150 000 of
them — throughout the state of Victoria that are not on reticulated gas
services. This is a matter that our government has tried to do something about.
We have tried to increase the coverage of the availability of reticulated gas
throughout Victoria and to build on that support to communities throughout
Honourable members interjecting.
Mr JENNINGS — I cannot quite tell what the interjections from
members on the other side of the chamber are, but I am pleased to know that,
although they did not stand up for regional Victoria during their time in
government, they are now taking the opportunity to stand up in some shape or
form in relation to these issues — hopefully in the interests of members of
regional communities throughout Victoria, because certainly it is the commitment
of our government to try to provide that support.
I am very pleased to say on behalf of the government that we
have taken new steps in relation to this support by providing a $33 million
program which will commence on 1 July this year to assist those households to
install solar hot water systems. For the first time this program will be
providing solar hot water systems that can be connected to both electricity and
gas going forward.
It will provide a significant rebate to households, something
of the order of $2000, for the installation of those systems throughout regional
We recognise the importance of making sure that we have the
skills and the capacity to install those systems. Part of the $33 million will
be allocated specifically to training 1400 plumbers in regional Victoria to make
sure that we have an enhanced skills base to provide for the installation of
those hot water services. That will add to the employment opportunities in terms
of installation and the skills base. People involved in the plumbing industry
will be able to add additional skills to their local community, which will go
far beyond the benefits associated with this particular program.
This program has significant greenhouse gas benefits in its own
We estimate that over the life of the solar hot water systems
that will be generated through this program a total of about 462 000 tonnes of
CO2 equivalent will be saved. There will be significant individual savings to
households. They can have confidence that they will be contributing to reducing our greenhouse gas load, but there will also
be significant financial benefit. We estimate that something of the order of
$245 will be saved annually from the energy costs of each of these households
right throughout regional Victoria.
Our government is very pleased to be able to provide support to
regional employment through the installation of very efficient solar hot water
systems that straddle both gas and electricity and to provide significant
support to households right throughout regional Victoria who want to make a
contribution to the greenhouse gas effort to reduce our environmental load,
while also making a very positive contribution to the viability of those
households in terms of the effect on their household budgets.