Solar Energy Program Cutbacks To Help Pay Australia’s Flood Bill

In a speech to the National Press Club a short time ago, Prime Minister Julia Gillard outlined spending cuts and deferments to help provide funding to rebuild infrastructure ruined by Australia’s worst flooding disaster – some of the programs to fall include solar power initiatives.
The floods have had a huge impact on many Australians – and will continue to affect the entire nation for some time to come. Aside from the emotional distress, the financial fallout is considerable. Besides a flood levy announced earlier today, Prime Minister Gillard has also outlined the cutting, capping or abolishing of some programs to pay for the recovery.
Prime Minister Gillard said Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payments are estimated to have cost over $600 million. The Disaster Income Recovery Subsidy will cost another $120 million. The cost to the Australian Government of rebuilding flood affected areas outside Queensland is estimated at $1 billion. Rebuilding flood affected areas in Queensland itself is estimated to cost the Federal Government $3.9 billion. All told, the direct cost to the Federal Budget of this summer’s flood disaster is just over $5.6 billion at this point in time.
Among the spending cutbacks to help pay for the recovery process:
“We will cut some spending programs and cap some others. I am abolishing, deferring and capping access to a number of carbon abatement programs. These include the Green Car Innovation Fund, Cleaner Car Rebate Scheme, the Carbon Capture and Storage Flagships and Solar Flagships, the Solar Hot Water Rebate, Green Start Program, Solar Homes and Communities Plan* and the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute, ” said Prime Minister Gillard.
*Note: the Solar Homes and Communities Plan  ended in 2009.
UPDATE 2.55PM, January 27:
The following announcement was posted on the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency web site in relation to the Solar Hot Water rebate:
"The Prime Minister announced on 27th January 2011 that as part of the response to the flood disaster the Government will redirect projected surplus funding from this program. These surplus funds have become available as a result of lower than anticipated levels of demand for the Rebate in 2010. Enough money remains within the program to support current rebate demand levels. All REBS – Solar Hot Water Rebate applications will continue be processed as normal. Depending on future levels of demand, eligible households will still be able to access the Rebate in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 Financial Years."

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