The discontinuation of key energy efficiency and building programs in this week’s budget leaves Australians vulnerable to unaffordable electricity prices, according to the Association of Building Sustainability Assessors (ABSA). Scrapped programs include the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) and the promised Million Solar Roofs rebate program, while the Solar Towns program has also been scaled back.

“These programs would have helped to improve energy efficiency in the residential sector and supported Australians in reducing their energy costs. It’s not just about reducing carbon – the social and economic benefits they create are equally important as responding to dangerous climate change,” Sid Thoo, Chair of ABSA said.

“The carbon tax was only responsible for a fraction of the increases we have seen with the cost of electricity – for example, in WA the carbon tax only added 11% to the cost of electricity, while cost increases having nothing to do with reducing carbon have been more than 47% since 2008.

“This is why a focus on residential energy efficiency is imperative if we genuinely want to help Australian families with the cost of living.

“If the government is serious about helping Australians lower their electricity bills, it needs to reconsider its commitment to programs, grants, incentives and assistance which will help deliver improved energy efficiency. These initiatives shouldn’t be seen as financial burden to the economy, but rather an investment in securing our future energy supply.

“The uncertainty surrounding the Renewable Energy Target also contributes to further insecurity in the building and construction industry as businesses and individuals can’t plan for a stronger, more energy efficient future.

“Businesses are keen to work with government to help Australians reduce their energy bills as this ultimately improves profitability, but the government also has to step up to the challenge.

“We urge the government to focus on individual households and families, which make up half of the carbon footprint from buildings in Australia,” Mr Thoo said.

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Sid Thoo is an award-winning architect and Chair of ABSA.

About ABSA: The Association of Building Sustainability Assessors (ABSA) is a not-for-profit national membership organisation representing building and design professionals who specialise in assessing the environmental impact of buildings. ABSA’s vision is to improve sustainability through the design and use of buildings.

For more information about ABSA visit www.absa.net.au