The Government is winding down its home insulation programme as part of Budget cuts leaving 600,000 homes across New Zealand uninsulated, including 300,000 homes of low income kiwis, Labour says.
Labour's energy spokesman David Shearer said last week's Budget confirmed the Government had "virtually abandoned" its home insulation scheme and as a result, a fifth of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority's (EECA) staff would be cut.
While $30 million a year would still be allocated to home insulation, "this means a meagre 15,000 homes will be insulated", Mr Shearer said.
"Currently 600,000 houses remain uninsulated across New Zealand. Around 300,000 of these homes are lived in by people on low incomes."
The home insulation scheme set up under an agreement with the Greens had insulated more than 230,000 homes, a fact the Government often boasted about, Mr Shearer said.
"No longer. Energy Minister Simon Bridges has been a casualty of Bill English's desperation to get his budget across the line into surplus regardless of the impact."
But Mr Bridges said Mr Shearer, "may have missed that we invested as further $100 million into home insulation" over three years in last year's Budget.
"What we did there was effectively we went from a general purpose scheme to a highly targeted one to people with the most needs and that's going to see an additional 46,000 homes insulated. Mr Shearer either forgot about that or has been misleading in his press release."
While the Government was proud of its home insulation assistance, "I don't think it should be general purpose scheme where anyone regardless of their income gets it".
"It's high needs, high health needs and I think that's the right approach."
He said job losses at EECA were an operational matter but were down partly to the fact that the organisation was moving from a large general insulation scheme to a smaller more targeted one.
Mr Bridges said he had "strong interest in EECA".
"I think they're a great organisation with a long future and I've personally made sure that they've got some very interesting projects on the go. I'm trying to re orient it into areas such as carbon emissions measures and how we can reduce that and also have better productivity."