Hopes Dashed For Parliamentary Inquiry Into Solar Homes Stuff-Up

Solar Homes inquiry

Victorian Labor MPs and three crossbenchers have prevented an inquiry into the Solar Homes PV rebate fiasco occurring; giving the Andrews Labor Government breathing space it shouldn’t have.

Just to very briefly recap the Solar Homes saga to date as it has been going on for months:

  • Victoria’s residential solar power industry was doing well prior to the rebate.
  • When the rebate – which the sector didn’t ask for – was launched in August last year, demand for solar panels skyrocketed.
  • Businesses grew and new businesses were established in the state.
  • The scheme was suddenly paused in April and new solar power system sales plummeted.
  • The rebate didn’t restart until July – and with a quota set not much higher than the level of installations that occurred in pre-rebate July 2018.
  • July’s rebates were snapped up in 3 days.
  • August’s rebate allocation was boosted by around 10%, but was gone in under two hours.
  • Many Victorians are holding off on going solar until they can get a rebate.
  • Some are also giving up due to the “click frenzy” approach and issues with the application process.
  • Solar workers are losing their jobs and businesses are going broke.

The situation could be properly fixed, but the Andrews Labor Government has chosen not to at this point.

Opposition Pushes For Parliamentary Inquiry

As promised by Victorian Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien at the July solar rally organised by the Smart Energy Council, the Liberal Nationals attempted to establish a parliamentary inquiry into the management of the scheme. The move was defeated on Wednesday.

The crossbench MPs to vote against the inquiry were:

MPs that supported an inquiry were from the following parties:

  • Justice Party
  • Greens
  • SFF Party
  • Liberal Democrats
  • Sustainable Australia
  • Transport Matters

Lily D’Ambrosio “In Complete Denial”

“With Labor’s Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio in complete denial about the growing range of problems her Solar Homes program has created for the industry, a Parliamentary inquiry would have allowed business owners and those working in the solar industry to tell their stories and demonstrate to the government why an urgent review of the policy is needed,” said a statement from the Shadow Minister for Energy and Renewables, Ryan Smith MP.

Mr. Smith said the Andrews Labor Government will now continue to engage in a “cover-up of a failed policy to save face” – meanwhile more jobs will be lost and businesses close their doors.

Mr. Smith continued to press Minister D’Ambrosio in Parliament yesterday; relaying the example of a solar power business owner in East Gippsland who said he has been left smashed and broken as a result of the scheme . Mr. Smith asked Minister D’Ambrosio how the scheme is not a failure when a successful business is suddenly without work and income.

Minister D’Ambrosio said the Government is continuing to work with the industry as it works through adjustments and adaptations. We heard an example of some of that “work” a while back when a struggling solar business owner asked the Victorian Government for assistance and was sent documentation on how to sack staff. Practical perhaps, cold and heartless – definitely.

Judging by the Hansard record (note: proof only) of the relatively brief exchange between Mr Smith and Minister D’Ambrosio yesterday, things got a little boisterous in the chamber; with the Speaker calling members to order on two occasions.

As for what’s next, Premier Andrews had hinted to a review of the Solar Homes scheme recently – but there’s been no further word on that.

To give an indication of the impact of the crisis, in its Installer News communication yesterday the Clean Energy Council was encouraging those in distress to contact Lifeline or Beyond Blue.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. Ray McNamara says

    Geez Finn.
    I just wish that Dan and Lily could put their egos aside and fess up that they got this wrong.
    Sit down with industry and get a 6 month emergency plan in place.
    Whilst that is playing out, get a longer term sustainable plan going. Fully funded. Fully agreed with industry. With a defined end date – say 3 years. With performance reviews every 4 months.
    Dan, it’s simple.
    Lily, Dutch your bureaucrats in favour of your electorate.
    Otherwise, vote Dan out.
    Sorry , you are in SA.
    Oh well, keep on posting about this. We need you
    Regards Ray

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