Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 November 2007) . . Page.. 3591 ..
tenant. Examples of fairly easy improvements that will improve the energy efficiency of a house include insulating ceilings and walls, heavy curtains with pelmets, double glazed windows, draught proofing, low-flow hot water units and shower heads, and well-placed trees.
This is just a start. I think that most would agree it is reasonable that these types of measures be done by the landlord rather than the tenant. Everyone needs to do their bit, and we are not compelling anyone to do anything more than disclose the EER. In the current very tight rental market, it is not likely to work against the landlord if a dwelling has a very low EER because the situation for many people looking for houses is desperate. It may, however, mean that they can be justified in charging higher rents for a house or a flat that has a higher EER. The rest is up to the market, which we hope will reward those who actively take on the responsibility of making their homes as efficient as possible.
As I have said many times, the government’s climate change strategy is woefully inadequate. The targets are not enough to prevent the worst impacts of anthropocentric climate change. Having said that, there are some good initiatives in the action plan. Government spending on energy efficiency measures for public housing is a highly commendable example. However, as a 10-year plan, this will simply not be enough. As the pace of climate change becomes more evident and the resulting need for much greater action becomes even more apparent, I expect that this will change.
Nevertheless, it is a start, just as this bill is a start and a first step towards raising awareness and promoting some simple actions. This bill is an initiative to assist private renters who, along with public housing tenants, will need good government intervention to assist them in doing their bit to reduce our emissions.
As I have said, I hope that this bill is one of many that appear before the Assembly with the aim of improving the sustainability of housing in the ACT. The introduction of the five-star requirement is certainly a good step forward. I would say, however, that I do not think we ought to tie ourselves to the slow pace of national reform. The star rating system actually goes up to 10 stars. It is somewhat misleading to give a house five stars when it is really only half-way there. I should say that this is better than the requirements for multi-residential apartments and commercial buildings. There is one new office building being built in Marcus Clarke Street, for example, that is essentially just a sheer glass wall facing west, and I expect the air conditioners are already installed.
We need a comprehensive approach to sustainable building that includes all new buildings and also clear guidelines for planning of the suburbs and sites to ensure that we make the most of what the environment gives us. I hope that both parties can see the potential benefits that this bill offers to both landlords and tenants and that everyone is able to recognise the need for these types of initiatives if we are to progress down the path to a sustainable Canberra.
Debate (on motion by Mr Hargreaves) adjourned to the next sitting.