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Energy - Support for Home Electrification

Renewable Energy

Ms SPENDER (Wentworth) (15:14): My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy. Households are struggling with their power bills because of high fossil fuel prices. The best way to reduce these is by helping them electrify with cheaper renewable energy, but it's not easy, particularly for those who rent. In the US, the Inflation Reduction Act provides incentives of $14,000 to every household to electrify, and it's making a huge difference. Will the minister put households at the centre of Australia's response to the IRA and will this include specific support for renters, like the measures I proposed recently?

Mr BOWEN (McMahonMinister for Climate Change and Energy) (15:15): I appreciate the question from the honourable member for Wentworth. Our response to the Biden administration's Inflation Reduction Act has and will focus on making things in Australia, because we believe Australia, as well as being a renewable energy superpower, can be a manufacturing power as well. We have no greater opportunity to make things in Australia, to re-enliven the Australian manufacturing industry and to create good jobs for Australian manufacturing workers, than renewable energy. Our initial response to the Inflation Reduction Act was our Hydrogen Headstart Program, with $2 billion. Just last week I opened expressions of interest in that, so we're making good progress. We've said we'll have more to say on that this year.

But the honourable member is right: more needs to be done to support renters, apartment dwellers and low-income dwellers in electrifying, in improving energy efficiency and in switching to renewables. That is right, and there are two elements of our policy we are already implementing which do just that. There is our social housing support, under our household energy savings plan and our solar banks policy. I'll give the House an update on both.

On solar banks: we have committed—and we took to the election—$100 million, and we are focusing efforts directly on apartment dwellers and renters. We have already announced agreements with Victoria, the Northern Territory and the ACT. This makes a big difference. For example, in Victoria we are providing up to $2,800 an apartment, or more than $100,000 an apartment block, to help with the transition to renewables. This will help around 5,000 apartments in Victoria. We'll have more announcements to make with other jurisdictions in coming weeks.

There is also social housing: as I've said before to the House, people who live in social housing deserve this support as well. Our social housing stock is well over 20 years old on average. These houses are often energy-inefficient and often don't include renewable energy. Our program of $300 million of support for social housing, announced in the budget, is already being rolled out, and we are requiring co-investments from the states and territories to drive that investment further. Hence, we're negotiating with the states and territories. We've already announced the deal with Victoria, and there'll be further announcements in coming weeks about other jurisdictions.

We'll continue to work, because the honourable member is correct. And other honourable members have been focused on this and have raised it with me as well: the need to support apartment dwellers in particular. The members for Macnamara, Reid and Bennelong, in particular, and the member for Wills have been raising these issues within the government as well—the need to provide more support. Because there are challenges for apartment dwellers and there are real challenges for renters, and we will ensure they are not left behind as we transition to cheaper renewable energy.

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