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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (24 March) . . Page.. 738 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

We are talking about a judgment on the level of penalty, but this does not affect the legislation as a whole. Even in terms of the legislation, I think this particular point we are arguing about will affect a very small number of people. The vast majority of people, thanks to this legislation with this range of amendments, will begin the process of ensuring that they have identified the energy rating for the house, will advertise accordingly and will inform the purchaser accordingly. I think, Mr Speaker, that is a major step forward in the environmental approach, and it is a major step forward in terms of the action taken by this Assembly and this Government in regard to the greenhouse targets that we have taken very seriously.

MS TUCKER (12.02), in reply: I will close the debate on the in-principle stage, but I will talk to the amendments. I might as well, as everyone else has. I am glad to get support, obviously, for this piece of legislation. Mr Moore has explained clearly why it is a good piece of legislation. We know that in Canberra a large number of the buildings are quite primitive for the climate in which we live and there is definitely an advantage in raising awareness in the ACT community about the importance of making our dwellings more energy efficient. By having a rating scheme it is clearly there for everyone to see how primitive or not a particular building is for the climate that we live in. As Mr Moore has said, there are not only environmental advantages, such as greenhouse and firewood and so on, but there are also cost advantages for people who have a well-insulated home because their energy bills will be lower. So it is basically about environmental issues, it is about cost issues, and it is about consumer information, and I am glad to have gained support for that.

Regarding the amendments, I will deal briefly with the issue of rescission. Mr Moore says he has taken account of the Law Society's views on that. He had consulted with them and they had a better understanding of those issues than we do. So, in the spirit of consultation, he supports what they say. But we also consulted more widely and got other legal advice on that, and there are different views about whether or not it is such a significant aspect of the Bill. There are other instances where rescission is in standard contracts. Standard household contracts already include provisions in clause 7 where rescission of a contract is possible. Under the contract, the seller can warrant that the house is not subject to a heritage listing or does not include any unapproved structures. If this is found to be incorrect the buyer can rescind the contract. The argument that was given to us by the Law Society representative was that these warrants relate to factors that affect the title of the property, whereas the energy rating only relates to the quality of the property, but I am not convinced that these distinctions are that critical. If lawyers are already familiar with the possibility that contracts could be rescinded they would already be making allowances for this in their work by making sure they get the details of the contract right in the first place.

I do not think the issue of home conveyancing also is a very strong argument. If people take that on they have to meet other legal obligations. If they advertise the house they would already have a rating anyway, so I do not believe that that is a significant issue.

The amendment on demolition is interesting. I was just looking at the Government's amendment to my amendment on the definition. It is actually more narrow. I guess that that is what is intended. Mr Smyth might like to talk to that. It is a narrower definition.

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