Abbott rejects Christian solar gift due to security concerns, cleaning costs

Abbott rejects an offer of a free solar system for Kirribilli House because of concerns about cost of cleaning and security issues.


An offer from Christian groups to install a solar system, free of charge, at the residence of the Australian Prime Minister has been rejected by the federal government, for reasons including concerns about cleaning costs and security.

The gift of 12 crowd-funded solar panels and free installation at Kirribilli House was offered to Tony Abbott last Christmas by a group of Sydney church leaders known as Common Grace – a rapidly growing movement of thousands of socially-minded Christians from various denominations.



According to Common Grace, that offer was officially rejected last week via a letter from Riverina MP Michael McCormack, in his capacity as the parliamentary secretary to the finance minister, for reasons including Kirribilli’s heritage listing, ongoing costs of cleaning and maintenance, and security concerns.

But the Christians are not taking no for an answer – arguing that the move puts the government out of step with one in five Australian households now using rooftop solar – and has issued an open letter encouraging the Prime Minister to reconsider.

“We are disappointed that the Government has rejected the gift of solar panels for Kirribilli House that was crowd funded last Christmas by 142 Christians,” the letter says.

“We had hoped you would accept them as a great first step to get Australia moving towards a strong Renewable Energy Target.”

The letter challenges the government’s reasons for declining the offer, noting that the City of Sydney had installed solar PV on various buildings with irreplaceable heritage value, inlcuding Sydney Town Hall.

It continues:

“We discovered Australia’s own actress, Cate Blanchett, installed 1,906 solar panels on Sydney Theatre Company heritage building. I’m sure she’d be willing to give some pointers if you gave her a call?

“On cleaning concerns, John Grimes, CEO of the peak body of the solar industry in Australia (Australian Solar Council), informed us that solar panels do not require ongoing cleaning or yearly maintenance – they are cleaned by the rain. Some utilities require a check of the inverter, but this can be done on the ground every five years.

“Looking abroad, did you know that President Carter managed to get solar panels installed on the White House way back in 1979? And Pope Benedict negotiated the same kinds of hurdles when he accepted a gift of 2700 solar panels providing clean energy to the Vatican in 2008.

“Prime Minister, we believe that a man in your position can overcome challenges like heritage listings and cleaning concerns and choose a brighter future for all Australians. We therefore urge you to implement a strong Renewable Energy Target and accept the gift of solar panels for Kirribilli House, as a powerful signal to the world that Australia’s renewables industry is officially open for business.”

Common Grace says the letter, which is signed “Australian Christians and friends” has been co-signed by more than 600 Australians already, just four days since being penned. It was delivered to the PM’s office in Sydney on Tuesday morning (see image below).


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  1. Keith 6 years ago

    There is one thing PM Abbott is very consistent about, and that is alienating all groups who might be seen as friends.
    I guess it makes it easier for the PM to be simplistic about his enemies …. Everyone.

    What a sad story. Perhaps he thinks if he accepted the offer it would be inconsistent with his determination to destroy the renewable energy industry at any cost.

  2. Petra Liverani 6 years ago

    I was wondering what the response would be. I thought he might “generously” push them onto a fire station or something … but just an outright refusal. Interesting.

  3. Tommyk82 . 6 years ago

    Good on them. The simplistic justifications he offered not to accept demonstrates that he hasn’t done his homework. The phrase “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” comes to mind since it is also insulting to refuse a gift. Perhaps most importantly, this highlights his opinion that economic sense will not get in the way of his ideology. He’ll reject clean energy even if it’s free!

    • Chris Fraser 6 years ago

      Very true .. rabid barnacle ideology at its worst !

  4. disqus_3PLIicDhUu 6 years ago

    Abbott is big coal’s best mate, he’s in bed with them, a self confessed climate skeptic and technophobic luddite, why would he want a pv system installed.
    His controllers at the business and mineral council and Murdoch, would be straight on the phone, chewing his big ears.

  5. Finn Peacock 6 years ago

    My window cleaner does them for $3 a panel every 12 months. I know Joe Hockey’s bad at maths but even he could work out that each panel will deliver more than $3 per year in savings.

  6. Ian 6 years ago

    Filthy polluting coal fired power from the wildly destructive coal mins in the Hunter would have been more to Tony’s liking.
    What a destructive idiot.

  7. BarleySinger 6 years ago

    It was refused only because of Abbot’s dedication to his masters in ‘big dirty energy’

  8. Lawrence Winder 6 years ago

    Rabid-theHun is an idiot… Ideology trumping common sense again!

  9. Alistair Spong 6 years ago

    Whats strange is that a pragmatic government might have accepted the gift as a useful bit of green washing & thereby continued to fully support the coal industry while living behind a facade that they really did believe in renewables – these guys really are the B team of leftovers from the Howard years

  10. Ross 6 years ago

    Thats Good news, another nail in his reelection coffin!

  11. Barri Mundee 6 years ago

    Abbott and his entire regime are a lost cause, no arguing with that bunch of ideologues. Just about every moderate LNP MP’s have been marginalised or forced out by the hard right of the party.

    I am sure the panels will end up on a more sympathetic roof.

  12. Terry J Wall 6 years ago

    Would someone tell Abbott that solar panels are NOT windows. Putin wont be peering through to see what is going on. Just relax Tony and get a contractor to clean the panels once every couple of years. Probably wont even need that with all the hot air floating up. He is breathtakingly deficient on anything called intelligence.

  13. Rob 6 years ago

    Just shows how out of step the Abbott government is with everybody else on the planet. They are so narrow-minded its breathetaking.

    • strez2Dmax 6 years ago

      maybe you incorrectly addressed it ?
      try per peta the assertive
      she will pull him into gear
      massage his ego
      one wink
      will have a fink slink

  14. Zanderlex McBeecomb 6 years ago

    I’m an atheist, but this makes me respect Christians more – surely, if you believe that the Earth is a gift from God, you should feel obliged to look after it out of respect. Well done folks!

  15. Annie 6 years ago

    I’ll have them if he keeps refusing. Please, pretty please.

  16. john 6 years ago

    Rather the same story as Ronny Ray Gun.
    When he got the keys to the White House he removed that awful Solar Hot Watering System.
    Pathetic yes but hey that is how the clowns who have no idea work and he is one person who is exulted in the good old US of A.
    As to the person who is Prime Minister of Australia he is following his elk.
    It follows the belief that any utilisation other that sun powered fuel from few million years ago is to be treated with suspicion.
    Huh what is this few mill etc. years ago ?
    Well that is how the carbon got sequestered ok.
    sequestered means put in ground.
    So actually using the sun now is some how wrong despairs me.
    My question ?
    Are we some throw back people who only want to look back a few million years and not live in the present I ask you?
    I think this just about explains where we are at with the present incumbent.

  17. Alastair Leith 6 years ago

    great art direction on the top photo!

  18. Adelaide Solar Care 5 years ago

    Mr John Grimes (CEO Australian Solar Council), of all people, should familiarize himself with the minimum ‘Care & Maintenance’ requirements of Photovoltaic systems as recommended by all ‘reputable’ solar module manufacturers (Annual Inspection and Clean). Failure to do so may Limit or Exclude the systems Warranty. As a side note, the cost benefits of ‘free’ Renewable Energy far out way the nominal cost of an annual inspection and clean!

  19. Adel Mostafa 5 years ago

    I would respect our PM if he just said I don’t believe in climate change. But giving a pathetic excuse like cleaning and security makes me embarrassed that I voted for his party

    • David Hood 5 years ago

      “…I voted for his party”
      Why did you do a silly thing like that?
      What were you thinking?

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