Page 1853 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 8 June 2022

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I strongly encourage my community, and the entire ACT community, to make use of existing schemes to swap out their wood heaters, and I look forward to seeing the results of this trial when the government reports back to the Assembly next year. I will be monitoring it closely. Fortunately, I have a pretty good working relationship with the Minister for the Environment, and she and her whole office know that I will be on this diligently.

In the meantime, let us make sure that all Canberrans are empowered to transition to more sustainable ways of living when they tell us that that is what they want to do. Let us try and ensure that the programs we design and the high amount of taxpayer money we invest in these programs are designed in such a way that they are universally accessible, they limit unnecessary bureaucracy, they are strategically targeted to the people who they will most benefit, and we are not giving away money to people who can afford to make the change, but instead we are targeting these programs as a good progressive government should do—to those who need our support the most.

MS DAVIDSON (Murrumbidgee—Assistant Minister for Families and Community Services, Minister for Disability, Minister for Justice Health, Minister for Mental Health, Minister for Veterans and Seniors) (3.53): I rise to support the motion brought forward by Mr Davis. I thank him for his engagement with his local constituents of Tuggeranong and for bringing forward their concerns and suggestions to improve Canberra’s air quality, to assist in our important energy transition, as a city, to clean, green, portable electricity. I note that this is also important to many of the residents of Weston Creek.

Asking questions and listening deeply to people, then using their experiences and ideas to better shape policy and programs, is something that the ACT Greens value highly and do well. So I thank Mr Davis again for bringing forward what he heard from reaching out to his community for ways to improve local air quality and support people to make clean and affordable energy choices.

While my colleague Minister Rebecca Vassarotti would love to be standing here today to speak to this motion, she is unfortunately in isolation, so I am responding on both her behalf, as Minister for the Environment, responsible for the relevant policy work, as well as on behalf of my colleague Mr Rattenbury, as the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, as his responsibilities include the Wood Heater Replacement Program.

I would like to thank Minister Vassarotti for her commitment to creating a cleaner, healthier environment and for bringing forward the Bushfire Smoke and Air Quality Strategy 2021-2025, alongside the Minister for Health, Minister Stephen-Smith, in November 2021. While this strategy originated as a much-needed response, acknowledging the impact of the Black Summer fires on our air quality and health, Minister Vassarotti has expanded the remit of the strategy to include a path to reducing the air quality impacts of wood heaters.

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