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Housing : March 2009
Government Stimulus Package housing costs and this investment will help some of those Australians get secure housing.’ Energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly homes Another component of the government’s stimulus package that impacts our industry is the home insulation program and solar hot water rebates. HIA is pleased that the federal government has introduced measures to improve the efficiency of existing housing stock. As mentioned earlier, the Rudd Government will install free ceiling insulation in around 2.2 million owneroccupied homes up to the value of $1600. Alternatively, the Solar Hot Water Rebate will be increased from $1000 to $1600 and will no longer be means tested, applying to homes which already have insulation or for owners who prefer this option. From 1 July 2009, for a limited period of two-and-a-half years, owneroccupiers without ceiling insulation will be eligible for the rebate to cover the cost of the insulation and installation (capped at $1600). As an interim arrangement, from 3 February 2009 and until 30 June 2009, eligible owneroccupiers who install ceiling insulation in their homes will be able to seek reimbursement of up to $1600. See www.environment.gov.au/energy efficiency/insulation-homeowner.html. To help renters lower their emissions and save money on energy bills, the government will also double the rebate available under the Low Emissions Plan for Renters for landlords to install insulation in their rental properties – from $500 up to $1000 – from 3 February 2009 until 30 June 2011. The government estimates 500,000 rented homes will benefit from this program. If taken up by eligible households, the environmental benefits from the insulation components of the government’s Energy Efficient Homes Program could result in almost all Australian homes operating at a minimum of two-star energy rating by 2012. Who gets what? Insulating Australian households ($2.7 billion) • All Australian owner-occupiers who do not currently have ceiling insulation will be eligible for the free installation and supply of ceiling insulation (up to $1600 value) from 1 July 2009 until 31 December 2011 – accessible to owneroccupiers simply by making a phone call. • As an interim arrangement, owner-occupiers who do not currently have ceiling insulation and who organise its installation themselves between the date of this program’s announcement and 30 June 2009 will be able to seek reimbursement of their costs (up to the $1600 cap) upon commencement of the centralised insulation program – i.e. from 1 July 2009. Low Emissions Plan for Renters ($612.5 million additional funding) • The Low Emissions Plan for Renters rebate will be doubled to up to $1000 for landlords with tenants to install insulation in their rental property – and will be available from the date of this program’s announcement until 30 June 2011. The existing cap on the number of rebates will also be removed. Solar Hot Water Rebate ($507 million additional funding) • The Solar Hot Water Rebate will be increased to $1600 and the existing means test will be scrapped so that it is available to all households with an existing electric hot water system that do not access the insulation components of the program and that install an eligible solar hot water or heat pump system – and will be available from the date of this program's announcement until 30 June 2012. Once installed, households could save $300 to $700 on their energy bills each year. • Homeowners will be able to access either the insulation program or the Solar Hot Water Rebate. • The enhanced Solar Hot Water Rebate will also create new manufacturing and installation jobs. 14 Overall, it is estimated that these new measures could result in reducing carbon dioxide by the equivalent of 4.7 million tonnes per year from the end of the program, and by the equivalent of 49.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2020. Next steps HIA has emphasised the importance of the implementation plan to deliver these measures over what is a relatively short period. Clearly, a traditional procurement/tender approach by either the federal or state governments is not going to provide the necessary stimulus in a timely fashion. For this reason HIA has urged the federal and state governments to consider a more flexible approach and has suggested the use of conveyance contracts and off-the-plan purchases to ensure a timely investment. ‘There is an urgency to get things moving as quickly as possible, while at the same time ensuring there is value for money’ Each HIA member has been sent an email to gauge their interest in providing new housing as outlined in the recovery plan and more information will be provided in the coming months. The response has been extremely solid, with more than 1000 members responding in the first 48 hours of the survey, and with more than 98 per cent requesting to be kept informed of further updates. H HOUSING MARCH 2009