Australia launches multi-billion dollar home insulation scheme

A multi-billion dollar programme giving millions of householders free ceiling insulation has been launched by the Australian government.

The $4 billion (£2 billion) Energy Efficient Homes package, which began last Wednesday (July 1), is also expected to create some 4,000 insulation industry jobs.

Environment minister Peter Garrett said: "If the total cost of installation is less than $1,600 (£784), homeowners will have no more to pay because the registered insulation installer will claim the assistance directly from the government.

"This will be the case for many homeowners, as the government assistance will cover an average Australian home.

"Ceiling insulation is one of the most cost effective ways to reduce energy use within the home and this new register makes it as easy as possible for people to take up this generous offer.

"Not only is this a great offer for householders, but industry are also experiencing a huge upturn."

Mr Garrett was speaking at the Brisbane launch last week (Mon, July 29) of a national register of insulation providers, from which householders can choose.

All installers on the register must hold minimum skills and competencies and their work must meet Australian standards.

More than 3,000 businesses are already on the register, employing thousands of individual installers.

The programme is billed as Australia's largest ever energy efficiency rollout.

It also provides an insulation grant of up to $1,000 (£490) for renters and landlords.

Some 2.9 million households are expected to benefit from the package, which also provides a rebate of $1,600 (£784) to help eligible homeowners, landlords or tenants to replace their electric storage hot water systems with solar or heat pump hot water systems.

Some fear the new jobs will disappear once the programme ends.
But Mark Arbib, the government's employment participation minister, insists work will remain in the sector.

He said: "They think that there will be ongoing jobs in the industry going forward because of the changes in terms of environmental laws, in terms of more energy efficient housing and also energy efficiency in the commercial sector.

"So, many of these jobs will still be there once the program finishes."
But opposition politicians argue creating jobs by supporting home insulation installation is a waste of money, which could be better used.

Andrew Southcott, shadow minister for employment participation spokesman, said: "We need to make sure we are getting value for money. Most taxpayers would say that $1 million (£490,000) of borrowed money to create one job is not value for money."

David Gibbs


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