Mouthful: Greg Combet, Minister Assisting the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, and Minister for Defence Material and Science, was in Casino yesterday.
Mouthful: Greg Combet, Minister Assisting the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, and Minister for Defence Material and Science, was in Casino yesterday.

Combet admits problems

A FEDERAL minister visiting Casino has admitted that a number of government environmental programs, including the controversial home insulation scheme, are causing concerns ahead of a looming election.

Greg Combet, who possibly has the longest title in the Labor government – the Minister Assisting the Minister for Climate Change and Efficiency, and the Minister for Defence Materiel and Science – refused to speculate on when the election would be called.

The former union leader admitted the two environmentally friendly government programs – the Green Loans program and home insulation scheme – had caused some obvious issues.

The Green Loans program allowed homeowners free energy sustainability assessments, green vouchers to use on certain products and an avenue to apply for Green Loans of up to $10,000.

A Senate inquiry into the program, which was found to have attracted ‘sharks and shonks’, found fake training agencies were ripping off potential assessors and funds were being mismanaged.

Mr Combet who is ‘not completely familiar with Green Loans’ said the government is doing all it can to audit the programs.

“There have been issues and problems with the program and Senator (Penny) Wong has announced a number of changes,” he said.

“But I think it is well known we have had some problems with some programs.

“I’m responsible for another one, the insulation scheme area, and we are doing everything now to rectify those problems and make sure people are properly looked after and the programs are properly audited and any problems are learnt from.”

Abuses of the home insulation scheme by dodgy installers resulted in the death of a number of workers while alleged fraud prompted investigations into companies who were claiming false insulations.

Despite the ongoing issues, Mr Combet is confident the new Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, will stick to her promise to ‘reshape’ climate change policy.

“Julia Gillard is committed to a carbon price and we do need it in our economy,” he said.

“However we have to build a community consensus to support such a significant economic change.”

“This is a very difficult time for Kevin Rudd as everyone in the community would appreciate, however Julia Gillard is going to be a great Prime Minister and I think she will do a wonderful job,” he said.

There were reports this week that Labor candidates in Victoria were told to prepare for an election as early as August.



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