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Cut to insulation rebate leaves us out in the cold

Tuesday, 3rd November, 2009

By Stefan Delatovic The cut in the Federal Government's insulation rebate was bad news for Broken Hill, according to a local installer.

The rebate was introduced in February as part of the government's economic stimulus package. It offered householders up to $1,600 towards the cost of installing ceiling installation.

Environment Minister Peter Garrett announced on Sunday that the rebate would be reduced to $1,200 from yesterday. Mr Garrett said there had been reports of dodgy behaviour from installers and that the lower amount would cover the average cost of insulating a home, which he put at between $1,000 and $1,100. Local John Simpson has been a registered installer of insulation since May. He said yesterday that that figure was not accurate outside of capital cities and that the Government's constant changes had tarnished the reputation of installers and that left them holding the bag. Mr Simpson said that when he started installing insulation the cost of materials were such that the $1,600 rebate covered most jobs in Broken Hill, meaning that many locals could have the work done free. It proved popular, he said, which quickly led to a wealth of clients, a lot of new suppliers, and a shortage of insulation batts in Broken Hill. "Out here we're the last people to get stock," said Mr Simpson. In August, with hundreds of quotes given to clients, his stock had run out. When more batts were eventually delivered towards the end of the month, the increase in demand had pushed the price up by 28 per cent.

Mr Simpson said that had been the situation ever since. The price is now 32 per cent higher than when he started. "No-one can tell me when the next shipment will be and I never know the price until I get the invoice. How can I give accurate quotes based on that information? "In July it would cost $1,250 to insulated a 100 metre square house. In late August it was $1,650 and in late October it was $1,850." With his quotes already obsolete, Mr Simpson said the dropping of the rebate was another blow. The Government has said those already on a waiting list can claim the full $1,600, but only if the work is completed by November 16. Mr Simpson's waiting list alone contains 300 names. "It can't be done," he said. "What do I tell my loyal customers who have been waiting since July?" Mr Simpson said the changes were another example of the bush being left out by city-centric politicians. "This price of $1,000 per house might be true in Sydney, but it's not out here," he said. "We've got wage issues and freight issues. In Sydney I know of one company insulating 270 homes a week, using batts from China. "I've taken three blokes off the dole and trained them up, but now I've had to let them go." Ms Simpson is also upset that the rebate has been raised from $1,000 to $1,600 for investment properties, soaking up money and materials that could've been shared with homeowners to offset price increases before the changes were made. "It's always the same. Because of a few dodgy installers everybody has to pay. There are about ten registered installers in Broken Hill. "I don't believe any of our local boys could afford to do the wrong thing in this town. They'd last five minutes. That's the way it should be."

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