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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 1648 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

On the question of energy efficiency, the Energy Advisory Service is welcome. It is a beginning. There is to be an evaluation period of 12 months. I hope that the Government is not imagining that it is going to finish in 12 months. After 12 months they might be able to assess how it could work better. I do not think anyone would question the need for such a service. This is obvious. What could come out of a 12-month trial or evaluation is how it could be improved. In fact, from my understanding of it, it probably should be given a greater focus and greater funding initially. Hopefully, what will become apparent after 12 months is that we need to do things even better and fund the service more.

We care a lot about making our buildings more energy efficient, because this obviously is a major factor also in greenhouse emissions in our climate. Space heating, house heating, commercial building heating and cooling are very important and significant. As members are aware, we have done an energy audit in the Assembly building and have managed, through a few fairly minor initiatives, to reduce our energy use in this building significantly. I think the payback time, from memory, was about three years, so the capital costs for us to improve the energy efficiency of this building will be fully paid for in a very short period of time, and we can know that we are doing something in this building to reduce our impact on greenhouse emissions.

The Greens have always argued for innovative financing schemes that assist other building dwellers, residential and commercial, to access these kinds of energy efficiency methods and allow them to pay back low-interest loans through savings on energy bills. This is a possibility that has been canvassed widely around Australia and overseas. I do not see reference to that in the strategy. That is where I guess you start to feel a little despairing. Anything really innovative is not taken up to the degree that one would like it to be.

The question of ACTEW and whether it should be public or private is very critical to this discussion. Mr Corbell referred to the many debates we have had in this place about the wisdom or otherwise of hedging contracts with the suppliers of electricity from very polluting sources of energy, but now the argument has moved on to privatisation. I think it is very relevant because I think we could make ACTEW very viable in the deregulated market if we grab the opportunity to turn it into a world best practice energy service. We could do it. We have the ability to make ACTEW very competitive in the deregulated market Australia-wide. That would give us something to be proud of, something to sell. The expertise that would be developed in ACTEW would be a source of revenue, but once again it looks as though very narrow vision, limited vision and limited arguments will see this opportunity wasted. ACTEW will probably be sold if things go according to what appears to be the tendencies of government and other members in this place.

Most of the ACT greenhouse strategy is background. I had to get to page 13 of the 20-page document before I got to any real initiatives. It is not exactly a bulky document full of initiatives, but no doubt we will have opportunities to have more debates on this. One of them will occur tomorrow. That will be the debate on ACTION and public transport.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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