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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (24 March) . . Page.. 737 ..

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (11.56): Mr Speaker, I supported this legislation when it came in in the last Assembly. I continue to support it. I think it is an excellent idea. I think the community is ready for it and I think it will enhance the energy efficiency of houses across the Australian Capital Territory.

Members may recall there was a time when a suggestion was made to force everybody into looking at the energy efficiency of their housing. That was opposed by the Assembly as a whole. At a time when houses are changing hands it was thought that it would be an appropriate time for people to look at the energy efficiency and make sure they understand the energy efficiency. That, in turn, should bring it more to people's minds so that we know we can get more and more energy efficient housing. There is very good reason behind it. The amount of fossil fuels that go into heating our houses at the moment, the amount of wood that goes into heating our houses, and the gases that they give off, are significant. Similarly, when it comes to summer, the amount of energy used to cool people's houses is also significant.

Mr Speaker, it is worth digressing to the amendment that has been put up by the Minister for Urban Services. We are trying to do a number of things. First of all, we have to take seriously the consultation that has occurred on this piece of legislation, such as the consultation that has occurred, amongst others, with the Law Society. The Law Society has a better understanding of the conveyancing issues involved here. We are not talking about a fundamental principle. We are just talking about the conveyancing issues.

Mr Corbell said that lawyers should be able to deal with this and it should be straightforward. Indeed, when there are lawyers dealing with the conveyancing there will be a low likelihood of non-compliance. However, quite a number of people do their own conveyancing. I have done mine. I know many other people who have done their own as well. Mr Humphries indicates that he has done his own, but he does have the advantage of having a legal background.

It is many years since I have done it. These days I think it involves too much work to bother when you are trying to get things right and without enough knowledge. But there are people who still decide to do that. So the approach is, more than anything, to pick up those people and also to make sure that we are not using an overly jackboot style of approach. It is simply a question of balance. I probably put too strong a word on it. I was looking for a word other than jackboot. It is too strong a word. What we are looking for is the right balance as to the penalty.

It is a pretty severe penalty when a contract that has been signed is completely dismissed. Do not forget the way penalties operate in these contracts as a rule. The deposit is paid and a person who steps aside from the contract forfeits that deposit, which is usually 10 per cent. The penalty put up by the Minister for Urban Services is 0.5 per cent. As Mr Corbell says, that is about a $500 penalty, about double the cost of having the exercise done, for a $100,000 house. By the time you get to a $300,000 house we are looking at a $1,500 penalty. It seems to me, Mr Speaker, that this is a better level, but it is a matter for judgment by members.

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