Australia, January 29 - While the solar hot water sector is worried about job losses after Canberra scaled back its rebate, big business has applauded Labor’s decision to delay or axe a raft of green schemes to help fund the flood rebuilding effort.

Wayne Petridis, general manager of hot water at Solargain, yesterday said this week’s move to slash $160 million from the rebate scheme could potentially cripple the sector.

This will affect the entire solar industry,” Mr Petridis said.

The government this week announced measures to assist flood-affected regions, including a new tax levy and an expedited skilled migrant visa program.

Western Australia-based Mr Petridis said if Julia Gillard did not restore the $160m taken from the rebate scheme he faced having to cut 20 per cent of his staff nationwide.

The government currently provides a rebate of $1000 for a solar hot water system or $600 for a heat-pump hot water system to home owners, landlords or tenants who replace electric systems.

A Canberra-based fellow director of Solargain, Mark McGavock, said he too was concerned that people in the climate sector would be thrown out of work.

It’s a bit of a cop-out that Julia Gillard says she’s committed to climate change but wants to axe all these programs,” Mr McGavock said.

Big business, however, argues the total $2.8 billion in spending cuts was long overdue.

Reserve Bank board member Warwick McKibbin said cuts to Labor’s green programs “should have been there in the first place”.

Most of them are just wasted programs that should have been dealt with during the fiscal process itself probably more than a year ago,” he said.

Australian Industry Group chief executive Heather Ridout said the government had “made a step in the right direction” by slashing climate-related spending.

AI Group has long said that inefficient climate-related spending should be curtailed, particularly if a carbon price is to be imposed,” she said.

Greg Evans from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the announced plan had made the right choices to give the flood rebuilding plan the “necessary resources” it needed.

The greenhouse mitigation programs nominated for removal were expensive and inefficient,” Mr Evans said.