What new initiatives has the Government developed for energy efficiency?
Today I launched a prime-time television campaign to help New Zealanders to increase the energy efficiency of their homes, workplaces, and businesses. It is called the Energy Spot. Informative advertisements will screen 3 nights a week—on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday—at 6.50 p.m., as well as at 13 other times during the week. The advertisements will be shown on all four television channels. The initiative represents a difference in approach between the current Government and the previous Government. The previous Government chose to compel people by law to do certain things; this Government shows people the persuasive logic of making a choice themselves.
It is because we believe that encouraging New Zealanders to see the benefits of energy efficiency for themselves will be good not only for them but also for the economy. New Zealand households spend about $3.5 billion a year on energy, and businesses spend close to $13.5 billion. Households and businesses can make considerable savings for their own advantage. Giving people the information on how to do that, through little tips here and there, is the purpose of the initiative.
How will energy efficiency be enhanced by the recent decision to cap the number of homes that approved businesses can fit out under the Government’s home insulation and heating scheme, and what does the Minister say to the often small businesses that have scaled up their operations in order to heat and insulate more homes, only to find the funding tap has been turned off?
Let us be very clear: there was no funding tap at the time of the last election. There was an extravagant promise from the previous Labour Government that it might do something, but there was no action. This Government has committed $324 million over the next 4 years for this programme. Frankly, we have been delighted by the willingness of the industry to gear up and deliver the programme, and we are working through how we can make that possible for those who have made those commitments.
Will the Government increase funding to the home heating and insulation scheme so that the businesses doing the work can keep up with the demand, noting the comments in yesterday’s New Zealand Herald by staff at Premier Insulation, who argued that the good work of the programme is being reversed by poor decision-making, and that firms such as theirs will struggle to keep on installers? If he will not stump up with the required extra money, how can his quest for greater energy efficiency have any credibility?
The premise on which that question was asked is completely misrepresented by the questioner. The fact is that this is a new programme. There was no money for the programme prior to 1 July this year. In the short time since then a number of businesses have geared up, and that is great. But in the meantime, the Government needs the time, and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority needs the time, to work out how the excessive and wonderful demand for this programme can be met.