Delayed solar scheme leaves businesses high and dry


Struggling small businesses in the ACT have seen orders for rooftop solar panels dry up as thousands of Canberrans wait for the government’s loan scheme to begin.

Local businesses could be waiting at least another six months for customers as the scheme that was meant to kick off in April will not start until the second half of this year.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced the $150 million sustainable scheme in early August last year and businesses which supply and install solar rooftop panels immediately felt the pinch.

“Yet again the Labor-Greens Government have left small business high and dry,” Shadow Minister for Business Leanne Castley said today.

“I have talked to struggling businesses in the ACT that are barely hanging in there as thousands of Canberrans have put a hold on purchases until the scheme kicks off.

“More than 3500 Canberrans have expressed interest in the scheme but until it begins that is more than 3500 customers that businesses do not have.

“The government expected the scheme to be up and running by April but now we are told Canberrans will have to wait until at least the second half of this year.”

This blow to business follows the hit they copped last week when the government opposed the Canberra Liberals’ call to set up a Small Business Ministerial Advisory Council.

“Canberra’s small business community continually gets ignored by this government,” Ms Castley said.

“Business Minister Tara Cheyne refused to set up a Small Business Ministerial Advisory Council saying it would be a burden on small business and time consuming. In other words, the government can’t be bothered.”

Ms Castley also raised concerns about how the loan scheme would be run and monitored to ensure cowboy operators do not cash in and compromise safety.

“The Chief Minister must do the right thing by business and immediately announce an official start date for the scheme to give business certainty,” Ms Castley said.