Senate debates

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Home Sustainability Assessors and the Green Loans Program

4:06 pm

Photo of Christine MilneChristine Milne (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate—
notes, with grave concern that:
several thousand Home Sustainability Assessors under the Government’s Green Loan Program (the program) have been denied any work for more than 1 month since Christmas 2009 due to the mismanaged shutdown of the program’s phone booking service, leaving many in severe financial hardship, and
the company Fieldforce has consistently received preferential treatment through the program including being allowed to book as much work as it wanted during the shutdown period, despite thousands of other assessors being forced to go without work; and
calls on the Government to:
immediately provide clear and accurate information to the thousands of assessors regarding their ongoing work prospects,
reveal immediately the special conditions and treatment being offered to Fieldforce, and
review the program so that it provides a credible program, ensuring ongoing work for those Australians who have invested to become Home Sustainability Assessors on the back of the Government’s assurances.

Photo of Joe LudwigJoe Ludwig (Queensland, Australian Labor Party, Manager of Government Business in the Senate) Share this | | Hansard source

The government does have a response in relation to as to why we it will not support the motion. I seek leave to incorporate the statement.

Leave granted.

The statement read as follows—

  • There has been a significant increase in the number of new Home Sustainability Assessments booked since 11 January, and the Department of the Environment has allocated significant additional resources to process these bookings.
  • Since 11 January 2010, over 24,000 calls have been received and over 50,000 new bookings processed.

Response to claim of special conditions being offered to Field Force":

  • Fieldforce is the single largest operator under the Green Loans Program, and to accommodate this, they make bulk bookings which are processed by the Department once a week.
  • These bookings are subject to a weekly limit, in order to ensure there is adequate work for all assessors.
  • Jobs are available to all assessors, whether they are individuals or part of a company.
  • Over half the assessors contracted to the Department (59 per cent) choose to operate as sole traders, and are provided with bookings generated via the call centre. Work is allocated equitably.

Ongoing work for assessors:

  • The Green Loans program does not guarantee work for assessment companies or individuals, and each contract makes this clear.
  • The Government made a commitment to deliver up to 360,000 home sustainability assessments through Green Loans, and this is being delivered.
  • The Government understands that it is important for assessors to receive up to date information about the increasing demand for assessments, and this was done through newsletters eight times between September and December last year, and has been done another five times this year already.
  • The Government will consider the future of the Green Loans program in the context of budget deliberations.

Question agreed to.

Photo of Kerry O'BrienKerry O'Brien (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I seek leave to make a brief statement.

Photo of Alan FergusonAlan Ferguson (SA, Deputy-President) Share this | | Hansard source

Leave is granted for two minutes.

Photo of Kerry O'BrienKerry O'Brien (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Again, the government recognise that Senator Milne, with the support of the opposition, has the numbers for this motion. We oppose it but we will not be calling a division.