As battle for power heats up, Victoria Labor pledges more for solar

Updated August 20, 2018 15:58:41

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has followed up his billion dollar commitment to rooftop solar panels by announcing discounted solar hot water systems for 60,000 households, as he seeks to win voters concerned by cost of living pressures.

Key points:

  • Labor promises discounted solar hot water systems for 60,000 households
  • Only households that cannot install rooftop solar energy panels will be able to access the funds
  • Opposition says it will introduce competitive sports in some state schools

The Premier’s commitment marked a day of election pledges in Victorian politics with the Opposition promising to introduce compulsory interschool sport for state schools, with a trial of competitive sport slated for year 7s in 2020.

A day after Mr Andrews unveiled a $1.24 billion package to pay half the upfront costs for rooftop solar panels for 650,000 households, saying it would cut $890 off their energy bills, he has pledged a $60 million fund for hot water rebates.

Under the plan 60,000 households would be able to access a $1,000 rebate to install solar hot water. The scheme would be open for a decade.

Mr Andrews said the upfront costs of solar were the biggest barrier to families wanting to take advantage and reduce their power bills.

“This is a very big commitment so there is something meaningful, something practical to deal with the cost of living and rising energy costs,” he said.

“If you talk to hard-working households it’s a big barrier, a big hurdle to get over.”

Spruiking savings of up to $400 a year on power bills, the Premier said solar hot water could be installed on houses where rooftop solar was not an option.

“We think this will deal with the vast majority of those homes that would be eligible under the solar homes policy we announced yesterday, but because of engineering issues, whether there’s overshadowing, the way the roof is designed, the way the house faces, they won’t be able to install solar panels,” he said.

Solar hot water systems do not require as much sun or as much space as rooftop solar.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy was sceptical about the savings.

“I’ve had solar at home for about two years, and anyone who says that having solar at home is going to drop your bills by $1,000 a year, I think they’re dreaming,” he said.

“I can tell you my bills have not dropped by that much.”

Opposition promises school sports trial

Mr Guy said his plan to trial competitive sport for state schools was about getting children active, as well as learning about winning and losing.

“Little changes like this can go a long way to breeding healthier kids, more resilient kids,” Mr Guy said.

A father of three sons who play basketball, Mr Guy said there was a challenge to get children away from computers and outside.

“If you left kids with an ipad they’d sit in front of it all day, we have got to find an interest, spark their interest in getting outdoors,” he said.

Mr Guy said the trial would take place in three areas, one metro, one regional and one rural area with popular sports in each zone to be considered.

The state will pay for the costs of the sports and travel.

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) welcomed the announcement, saying it was a model that could be rolled out nationally.

AOC president John Coates said sport had lost its prominence in Australian schools and the rise in obesity rates was well-documented.

“The plan announced today seeks to promote students engaging in a variety of sports, and this is a good thing,” he said.

“Different sports suit different people and we know that by offering a variety of sports to young people, you offer greater opportunity for young people to engage.”

In a statement Education Minister James Merlino said the Liberals could not be trusted on education policies because they cut school funding during their last term.

“These cuts included getting rid of a range of programs that helped kids go on school camps, buy uniforms and books, and take part in excursions,” he said.

“Participating in school sport isn’t easy if you don’t have a uniform on your back or you can’t afford the bus fare to the sports ground.”

Topics: government-and-politics, states-and-territories, education, physical, solar-energy, alternative-energy, environment, melbourne-3000, vic

First posted August 20, 2018 13:23:56