Solar scheme for renters flagged in Qld leaders’ debate

Fraser Barton |

Living costs were a key forum topic for Opposition Leader David Crisafulli and Premier Steven Miles.
Living costs were a key forum topic for Opposition Leader David Crisafulli and Premier Steven Miles.

Renters will get cost-of-living relief through a revamped solar scheme if the Queensland opposition is elected. 

Liberal National Party leader David Crisafulli says a solar-for-renters plan first trialled back in 2019 will be rebooted if the party wins the October poll.

Mr Crisafulli made the promise in a cost-of-living debate with Premier Steven Miles on Tuesday, taking questions from 12 audience members selected by the Queensland Council of Social Service.

The opposition leader said he would provide short-term cost-of-living relief via the supercharged solar-for-renters scheme, with full details to be outlined during a budget reply speech later in 2024.

The program is expected to save the average rental household more than $700 annually on power bills with grants of up to $3500 provided for the installation of solar panels on rental homes.

“What I liked when I listened to both Solar Citizens but also people involved in the trial, this was a good program and it shouldn’t have stopped at that point,” Mr Crisafulli told The Courier-Mail forum.

“I want it not just to be a sugar hit. I want it to be throughout the forwards (estimates). 

“It’ll be a four-year program and it has to be focused on making sure there’s a partnership between the landlord and the tenant, the tenant has to be asked to receive a benefit – that’s a non-negotiable for me.”

David Crisafulli and Steven Miles
David Crisafulli and Steven Miles debated living costs ahead of the October election. (David Clark/AAP PHOTOS)

The move has been backed by the Queensland Conservation Council which called on the government to match the scheme.

“This is a smart policy initiative that will provide vital cost-of-living relief for renting Queenslanders while generating clean energy and slashing emissions,” campaigner Stephanie Gray said.

Deputy Premier Cameron Dick said the announcement was now a budget black hole Mr Crisafulli had to fill.

He says the LNP still doesn’t support progressive coal royalties.

Coal royalties have been the backbone of the state’s post-pandemic economy and are expected to boost revenue by $9.4 billion across the first five years according to the mid-year budget review handed down in December. 

Since being adopted in July 2022, additional royalty revenue from coal has pumped about $5.8 billion into the economy.

Mr Dick expected the total price of the LNP plan to be more than $1.2 billion if the grants were $2500, not the $3500 proposed.

Mr Miles said  the trial was stopped because it was assessed that Queenslanders could be better supported through rebates on their power bills, “rather than to give thousands of dollars to their landlords”.

Mr Dick also said the LNP had attempted to protect big supermarkets after the state government established its first pricing select committee.

Bundaberg MP Tom Smith will chair the committee, which will examine soaring supermarket prices, with a report due on May 21.

The premier implied at the debate his political opponents had tried to water down the inquiry by attempting to include other cost-of-living factors.

“I wanted it to be absolutely focused on food prices, farmgate prices and supermarkets,” Mr Miles said. 

“We have a separate committee called the cost-of-living committee that can deal with all of those other issues, but I saw no good argument for diluting the focus on supermarkets.”