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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 1 July 2010) . . Page.. 3148 ..

Finally, the government is providing significant funding for the development of a biodiversity conservation model. This is important in terms of managing future development in the city, the way that we provide protection of important parts of the national environment that require protection and how we manage offsets that may be associated with development activity. The development of that new model is ongoing.

There is a range of issues I could reflect on in this item but I think those are the primary ones, and I commend the appropriations to the Assembly.

At 6 pm, in accordance with standing order 34, the debate was interrupted. The motion for the adjournment of the Assembly having been put and negatived, the debate was resumed.

Sitting suspended from 6 to 7.30 pm.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (7.32): Thank you, Madam Assistant Speaker, for the call and for taking the chair. Before the break, I was talking about energy policy when looking at the DECCEW line item. I want to make some further comments. I particularly want to start on energy for low income families. I know that the energy concession rebate technically occurs in the disability and housing portfolio, as does the administration of the water energy savings in the territory program, otherwise known as WEST. So there will be an opportunity to comment on those items more at that time.

But the way that we manage those in our community who will be most affected by increasing energy prices and the impacts of climate change will be central to designing energy policy over the next 20 years, particularly as we transition away from fossil fuel-based energy. We need to see a firm commitment to put at the core of programs for energy efficiency low income families and others at risk of energy poverty. I said in my last speech in this chamber that we had not seen many encouraging signs of that so far.

I note now that the government has since, indeed on the day of the estimates hearings, allocated a further $1.3 million to be delivered by DHCS, to go towards improvements to public housing, installing ceiling insulation, replacing inefficient hot-water systems and for energy efficient appliances. And this is welcome. The very small but successful WEST program, which primarily assists public housing residents who have trouble paying energy bills, could teach us some valuable lessons about how we can best engage with householders about getting real and meaningful improvements in both the construction of houses and the behavioural changes that will reduce energy consumption.

In terms of energy programs that are currently underway, I think that learning about energy efficiency and how we can best save ourselves some money, as well as saving energy, is something that most of us could (a) learn more about and (b) be usefully reminded about. It is my view, and that of the Greens, that it is not an unreasonable thing for a government to promote the saving of energy to the community, much in the same way as we promoted the saving of water through campaigns such as use water wisely.

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