WA government admits fault in solar rebate debacle

13th Aug 2013

It didn't take long for the Western Australian government to crawl back to the public admitting it had "got the decision wrong" when it came to slashing the solar panel rebate.

After the budget plan was announced last week, cries could be heard from all corners of the state from the Greens, solar energy advocates and solar users themselves, who considered the decision to be the ultimate betrayal of trust.

It appears the government has now made an about face, deciding to restore the rebates to their original values, which had been cut in half from 40 cents per kilowatt to 20 cents.

For a few days it appeared the government would refuse to swallow its pride and continue ignoring the people it is supposed to represent. Afterall, Treasurer Troy Buswell had previously asserted that the decision was final.

But on Monday, August 12, the reversal came.

"Quite simply, we got this decision wrong and we have to fix it," Premier Colin Barnett said in a prepared statement.

"We have listened, and we appreciate the commitment that many people have made to take up renewable energy, like solar power."

Responding to the reversal

The response from the Greens was a mix of lingering condemnation and newfound celebration. Greens member Lynn MacLaren stated that it was the immediate and tumultuous public outcry that showed the government how poorly advised the decision was.

"Broken promises to 75,000 WA homeowners would have meant that their solar panel investment will fail to recoup money outlaid in the predicted ten year time frame," he explained.

"Well done to Western Australians who stood up and rejected this unfair decision."

The flip flopping has made what many would call a mockery out of the state government under Colin Barnett. Several members from inside the government stated that the decision – and the reversal – would reflect poorly on the state.

Labor leader Mark McGowan tweeted that the Barnett government was in "complete, utter turmoil", while Southern River MLA Liberal party member Peter Abetz deemed the initial decision an unethical breach of trust.

While there's never any certainty whether there were ulterior motives in the reversal or not, it's a win for solar power, regardless, and the sector can now continue on the same successful path it's been on for years.

Posted by Bob Dawson

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