Budget 2014: What it means for solar  

Treasurer Joe Hockey made it very clear before the budget release yesterday that, “All Australians must help us to do the heavy lifting,” and, “the age of entitlement is over”. So let’s have a look at what the budget means for renewable energy and the solar industry.


One Million Solar Roofs?

The Federal budget, as it exists, has no provision for the promised “One Million Solar Roofs” program. Earlier this year, doubts were raised over the future of the program when it was announced that funding would come from ARENA’s budget allocation, which had already been slashed.

Tristan Edis from Business Spectator has the timeline:

  • Million Solar HomesPrior to the election – the Coalition promised assistance of $1,000 for one hundred thousand low income households over 10 years to install solar panels and solar hot water systems
  • Two days before the election – the Coalition announced the $1,000 rebate would be reduced to $500. This figure was reiterated in October in a policy statement titled “A Plan for a Cleaner Environment” (you can read it here)
  • Budget 2014 – The government has axed the program

Replacing the $1 billion dollar commitment is a $2.1 million fund for community solar projects (RSLs and Bowls Clubs, etc.) in marginal electorates.

Currently the renewable energy target is under review with fears that subsidies for rooftop solar could be scrapped or reduced, however in light of the negative pushback from the One Million Solar Roofs axing it would make political sense for the government to retain it in some form.


Direct Action

$2.55 billion has been allocated “over 10 years” to the government’s Emissions Reduction Fund which is intended to replace the previous government’s carbon tax.

The exact figures, however are not clear. First it was claimed that “over 10 years” was a printing error. Again Tristan Edis has the figures, showing that the government’s pre-election commitment of $2.55 was promised over the first four years, leaving the newly committed funds until financial year 2017/18 short by more than $1.4 billion.



The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has long been seen as a lame duck, repeatedly suffering funding cuts before having the remaining allocated funding earmarked for the One Million Solar Roofs program (now defunct).

ARENA will be absorbed into the Department of Industry, however ARENA Chair Greg Bourne suggests that the ARENA Act will need to be repealed by Parliament before the Government can put these plans into action.

“In the meantime, ARENA will continue to perform its functions under the ARENA Act, including accepting and assessing applications,” Mr Bourne says in ARENA’s official statement.


Symbolism matters

Days before the budget Joe Hockey was photographed smoking cigars, a move seen by some as an ill-timed celebration from a man about to unveil the toughest budget in decades. In isolation it was a forgivable act, after all sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

best day

Joe Hockey’s wife cuts a rug on budget night.

Addressing the press following the budget announcement, Joe Hockey was asked by Laurie Oakes why he was dancing with his wife moments before his parliamentary address.

“Dancing?” asked Hockey, perplexed.

Oakes tried to jog his memory. Best Day of My Life?

“I think it was more about our little boy was there, I hadn’t seen him for three weeks,” Hockey responded.

But the quick-thinking Oakes fired back, “But symbolism matters. The unemployed, the sick, the welfare recipients hit by the budget, they’re not going to be dancing are they?”

“No Laurie, they’re not,” Hockey solemnly conceded.

The dance floor looks pretty spacious from where we’re sitting.