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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 5 August 2021) . . Page.. 2381 ..


MR GENTLEMAN: Yes, assessments are taken into account for the future of developments. Indeed, some of the work that we do around our bushfire operational plans and bushfire abatement zones are a key way of expressing that commitment. We need to make sure that our city is safe as we grow into the future. It was certainly one of the considerations we too into account when we looked at the strategic planning for the ACT and the announcement of our 70-30 change to the way we will develop Canberra into the future.

Environment—wood heaters

MR DAVIS: My question is to the Minister for the Environment. Minister, throughout the colder months, many Canberrans have been lighting up their woodfired heaters to stay warm, but I have been contacted by several of my constituents who are concerned about the adverse health effects of wood smoke, particularly in Tuggeranong. What is the government doing to manage the nexus between the needs of Canberrans to heat our homes and protecting Canberrans from the adverse health effects of wood smoke?

MS VASSAROTTI: I thank Mr Davis for the question. Yes, it is the case that, with winter here, people are using a range of ways to heat their homes, including woodfired heaters. Members of this house might have noted that we released the 2020 air quality report recently. It did identify that, particularly in the winter months, while we have really good air quality, wood fire smoke does create some issues in terms of both environmental and health impacts.

The ACT does government take this issue really seriously. As part of the smoke and air quality strategy that we are developing in consultation with ACT Health and other parts of government, we are looking at whether or not we have all the measures in place. At the moment we certainly do monitoring. I am also pleased to let the house know that in April this year environment ministers came together and made a variation to the National Environment Protection (Ambient Air Quality) Measure to ensure that we have strengthened air quality standards for ozone nitrate, dioxide and sulphur dioxide to ensure that what we are monitoring is of the highest standard.

We also provide a wood heater replacement program for people who are interested in replacing their woodfired heaters. We offer financial incentives for the removal and disposal of wood-burning heaters; particularly, there are additional incentives if they are putting in place more efficient electric systems. Some areas, because of topography, have particular risks. In particular, in places like Molonglo, there are some suburbs where people are unable to put wood heaters in. (Time expired.)

MR DAVIS: Minister, what specific government programs or subsidies exist for Canberrans who currently own and operate a woodfired heater who would like to transition to an electric heater?

MS VASSAROTTI: I thank the member for the question. There are two key things. In my previous answer I talked about the Actsmart woodfire heater replacement program. That provides a range of rebates if you are removing a woodfired heater;


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