17 October 2023

Haines: My question is to Minister for Climate Change and Energy. In the May budget you committed $1 billion to provide low-cost loans for household energy efficiency. I’ve long called for this to help reduce energy bills. Five months after your announcement we’ve heard nothing. With bills higher than ever people in my electorate are really struggling. When will these loans actually be available so my constituents can start saving money?

Minister for Climate Change and Energy: I thank the honourable member for her question and her very real interest in this matter. I acknowledge that longstanding interest. She is right. She has been a very constructive interlocuter and a very constructive participant in the public debate. The honourable member is also right: in that in the budget we allocated $1 billion for the household energy savings program, which is part of a broader $1.7 billion program. I’m more than happy to give the honourable member a quick update on rolling that out.

In relation to the $300 million for social housing—which is very important; people living in social housing have a right to investments in energy efficiency—we’ve already announced the first agreement with the Victorian government. We announced that several weeks ago. That allocation has been made and is being rolled out.

Another part of the package is the small business tax concessions, which are available today. I’m sure the honourable member will join with the government in inviting small businesses in her community to ensure that they’re making those investments and applying to the tax office for that concession.

We also announced the $300 million local government package, which is very important. That will open for bids shortly. Again, I’m sure the honourable member will let all the local governments in her electorate know that they can apply for that funding. I expect it to be oversubscribed. It will be allocated on a merit basis, and that funding will certainly be open this year.

In relation to the $1 billion for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, that money has been allocated, and the Minister for Finance and I have adjusted the Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s investment mandate to allow those investments to be made, which was important. The Clean Energy Finance Corporation is now negotiating with banks, financial institutions and other providers of finance. These are done jointly. Just as there are many banks already offering green loans, the CEFC will partner with those financial institutions to ensure there are more green loans available right across the country. Up to 110,000 households will benefit. I am more than happy to advise the honourable member when the Clean Energy Finance Corporation has ceased those negotiations with the banks. Those negotiations are continuing, and I expect announcements quite soon.

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