Tuesday, 25 May 2021                                    HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY                                 Page 5556 – 5557

The Hon. G.G. BROCK (Frome) (15:16): My question is to the Minister for Energy and Mining. Can the minister advise the house when concession holders in regional South Australia may be able to participate in the state government’s recent trial, where it was announced that 1,000 eligible households would get a free trial for 4.4 kilowatt solar panels installed in their houses in exchange for their concessions? With your leave and that of the house, sir, I will explain a bit further.

Leave granted.

The Hon. G.G. BROCK: This is in addition to the member for Newland’s question. The minister for social services in the other house during a media conference mentioned the 20 suburbs that would participate in this trial. I can’t understand, and I want the minister explain, why regional people were not given the opportunity to participate in this trial and to save money by surrendering their concessions.

The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart—Minister for Energy and Mining) (15:17): I thank the member for Frome for this question.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: It’s actually quite straightforward. People in regional areas are actually able to access this, but unfortunately not the people in the regional area the minister for Frome and I represent. People in Port Augusta can’t get this, people in Port Pirie can’t get this and other parts can’t get it. People in the Lower Lakes area, for example, can.

The answer to the question about why it has been structured that way is that it is a pilot. It’s a trial that has been set up, and it wasn’t practical to do a thousand all over the state. It was actually practical to do essentially the north-east suburbs of Adelaide and one regional section of the state. It would have been terrific to make it available to everybody anywhere in regional South Australia, it would have been terrific to make it available to anybody anywhere in Adelaide as well, but it just wasn’t possible to do that. It’s a trial. As the member knows, it is returning concessions voluntarily and swapping them for a free solar installation on your home. It will be outstandingly good.

I guess the most important piece of information to share with the member for Frome is that we are very optimistic that this trial will go very well. Based on that, we expect it to be something that we can roll out across the entire state, all parts of regional South Australia, all parts of metropolitan Adelaide. We want everybody to be able to benefit from this. However, I say again that the practicalities of actually running a trial—with regard to the cost of running the trial, with regard to keeping the cost of the installations down, being able to make it work efficiently—meant that we had to choose one suburban patch of metropolitan Adelaide and one patch of regional South Australia.

It would have been good to make that available for everybody and, just like the member for Frome, I also would have loved it to be in our part of the world, but the advice I got from the experts— and we do follow the experts’ advice on this side of the chamber—was that it was most appropriate to work the trial the way we are working the trial. It is very much about proving it up so that then everyone anywhere in the state gets that opportunity.


The Hon. G.G. BROCK (Frome) (15:20): A supplementary: can the minister advise the period of the trial, how long this trial will take place?

The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart—Minister for Energy and Mining) (15:20): I will have to check it, but I think it’s a year.

In reply to the Hon. G.G. BROCK (Frome) (25 May 2021).

The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart—Minister for Energy and Mining): I am advised by the Department for Energy and Mining that the Switch for Solar trial program will take place for one year from the date of the first installation, or when the 1,000 installations are complete—whichever occurs first.

The trial will inform consideration of a broader program.