Page 3240 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 18 October 2022

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work has been done in the sustainable building space. One of our big concerns is that, from our perspective, we see sometimes what appears to be a lack of coordination between directorates, because the outcomes in sustainable building come, in the first instance, from policy change, but, just as importantly, they come in the enforcement side of this space, which falls under the Access Canberra umbrella.

We have heard from Ms Cheyne today about the increases in spending in that space, and obviously we are supportive of those. We welcome all the spending in this space under the sustainable building minister and we look forward to working constructively with her, with the directorate and also with the industry to bring about some better outcomes, because it is important. Arriving at those better outcomes is a highly complex balancing act, particularly at this time when there is so much pressure on housing affordability.

We understand that the minister, as a member of the Greens party, views much policy development through a prism of dealing with the climate emergency. The Canberra Liberals acknowledge that there is some work to be done in that space, but I would urge, sensibly and constructively, that the changes made in this space pay similar heed to housing unaffordability. The perfect-world changes that Ms Vassarotti may wish to impose on building regulations would increase the cost of housing to an astronomical level. But, despite the potential differences in ideology, I remain cautiously confident that this minister can consider those impacts and find a sensible line which enables us to build more environmentally sustainable buildings while not impacting too heavily on housing affordability.

I must mention the incident at the Dickson building site on Northbourne Avenue, which of course we have discussed at length in various forms today, with the ministerial statement and responses from other ministers and also in question time. I think it goes to the heart of the public perception problem that we have, regarding building quality in the ACT. It is difficult for the public to understand how we, as a jurisdiction, could possibly have two serious incidents of this nature in such a short number of months. Sure, we have had a lot of rain, but to suggest that somehow it is not really possible to safely build large structures when we have lots of rain is ludicrous.

We certainly note the detailed ministerial statement from Minister Cheyne earlier today. We understand that this incident is being thoroughly examined and investigated at a number of levels by Access Canberra and that it is impossible to arrive at conclusions until such time as that investigation has been completed. I do note that the measures outlined by Ms Cheyne to communicate with industry about the high rainfall this winter and spring and the possible effect that it may have on various construction sites in Canberra, and we are certainly buoyed, as is the minister, by the early response from the construction industry.

These incidents again highlight how EPSDD and Access Canberra must absolutely work hand in glove in this space, and, if anything, that the most important aspect of building quality is actually in the compliance area. We all look forward to this process as it rolls out, and certainly we all, in this chamber, hope that it is the last incident of this nature that we see here in Canberra.

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