O'Farrell's Solar Bonus Stance Melts Under Pressure

ABC News

The New South Wales Government has capitulated to public pressure by promising compensation for those hurt by its cuts to a solar rebate scheme.

There has been a massive public backlash to the Government’s announcement it would retrospectively change the Solar Bonus Scheme.

It is less than two weeks since the Government announced the tariff paid to more than 100,000 customers would be cut from 60 cents per kilowatt hour to 40 cents.

Several Coalition backbenchers have spoken out against the change, saying it punishes people who have already paid to have solar panels installed on their homes.

Premier Barry O’Farrell says the tariff reductions will go ahead.

But he says Energy Minister Chris Hartcher will be working to ensure those facing financial problems as a result receive assistance.

“The one certainty is that the Government still remains committed to reigning in the costs of this mis-designed scheme by the Labor Party,” Mr O’Farrell said.

“What we’re determined to do though is to continue consultation.

“Chris Hartcher has been tasked with going away to bring back hardship provisions to ensure those cases of genuine hardship are addressed.”

The plan has not impressed the State Opposition, and others who opposed the Government’s rebate cut.

Opposition Leader John Robertson says in a statement the Government has missed an opportunity to abandon its retrospective changes.

“The package announced by the Government today is uncosted, unexplained and unbelievable,” Mr Robertson said.

Greens MP John Kaye went even further, saying the policy is stupid.

“It creates more uncertainty, inflicts more damage onto the solar industry and onto solar producers. A compensation plan means that Mr O’Farrell has to pick winners and losers from his own people,” Dr Kay said.

“It means Mr O’Farrell will be in a position of doling out dollars on some kind of dodgy criteria.”

John Grimes from the Australian Solar Energy Society says the assistance package is just making a bad situation worse.

“We’re genuinely shocked by this proposal to open an uncapped liability for paying compensation for people hurt by their poor solar retrospective legislation,” Mr Grimes said.

“What this does is open the Government up to a potential compensation bill by 120,000 people.

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