The Victorian Government’s Solar Homes Program for the second month in a row has inflicted enormous pain on Victoria’s solar industry according to local Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy .
Mr Tim McCurdy said the August allocation of solar panel rebates selling out within 90 minutes last week leaves consumers empty handed and solar business owners buckling under the strain.
“Industry groups are continuing to call for immediate changes and reporting solar businesses are deeply concerned about the future of their industry, business, their employees and their families,” Mr McCurdy said.
“Many operators are now under a great deal of mental stress due to sacking staff, meeting financial commitments and other issues exacerbated by this scheme.”
The Solar Homes Program caters for only 40,000 owner occupied homes and 2,000 rentals across Victoria, drip fed monthly to 3,333 home owners. Once the monthly rebate allocation is exhausted, consumers must try again on the first day of the following month.
Mr McCurdy said the Smart Energy Council (SEC) has labelled the solar scheme a ‘disaster’ and recently indicated they are now referring callers to Lifeline and Beyond Blue.
“The SEC are talking to business owners who are suffering from major depression,” he said.
“Some have even mentioned suicide.”
Mr McCurdy said the government can’t or won’t see the affect the Solar Homes program is having on mental health within the solar industry – an industry they claim to be making safe.
“We have been raising these issues for months and now it’s starting to have a major effect on the health and wellbeing of our community members,” he said.
“Frustratingly Labor is just sitting back and showing complete arrogance and disrespect by failing to acknowledge and act on the solar crisis they created.
“I would think that safety also includes the wellbeing and mental health of those in the solar industry, including all those people who have lost their jobs.”
Mr McCurdy said that Labor needs to make immediate changes to the Solar Home Program to reduce the strain and prevent further business closures and job losses.
“Given the stories of despair I myself have heard from the industry, I hate to think what it might take for the Labor Government to act,” he said.
For help with emotional difficulties, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or www.lifeline.org.au
For help with depression, contact Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or at www.beyondblue.org.au