Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (24 March) . . Page.. 741 ..
MR OSBORNE (12.10): I will be supporting this amendment of Mr Smyth's. My concern with this whole debate has always been the retrospective nature of it in that it places people who have been living in older homes under new rules. The reality is that, although I think all of us can see the merit in this piece of legislation for new houses, it does place an unnecessary burden or an unfair burden on people who are living in older houses built in a different era. I have had people approach my office who have been faced with thousands and thousands of dollars in costs in trying to get the highest rating, and I think what Mr Smyth has proposed is very reasonable. I still have my doubts as to whether this legislation will work in the long run. I think it is a little bit too harsh on people living in older suburbs in old houses, but I will be supporting this amendment moved by Mr Smyth.
MS TUCKER (12.11): I do not know what Mr Osborne thinks Mr Smyth's amendment does. I did not quite understand that speech. This is not going to make it any different for people in poor suburbs or people who are impoverished. Correct me if I am wrong. Is this the amendment about rescission or a fine? Is that what we are talking to?
MR SPEAKER: Correct.
MS TUCKER: So it is not a question of penalising or not penalising. It is what the penalty is. It is really not an issue about being concerned about people who feel that they have to spend a lot of money to upgrade their house so that they have a high energy efficiency rating. That is not necessarily what would be happening at all anyway. It is about information for consumers so that people who are on a low income will have knowledge to make a choice when they buy a house. It will actually have an impact on people on low incomes, which will be beneficial, Mr Osborne, because it will mean they will understand whether or not the house they are purchasing will have high energy costs. There is a real argument, in fact, to support this Bill if you are concerned about the costs of living in Canberra for people who are on a low income, because energy bills are very significant for those people. If we have instead a fine of 0.5 per cent, which on a $100,000 house would be, say, $500, or $750, it does create a loophole. In fact, Mr Smyth has acknowledged that that is possible and that they will be monitoring it. But it is obvious that you could use it as a loophole. You could say, for example, "Okay, we will say the price was $750, $100 higher than it is, but in fact it is not going to be because we will take that off because we will not give you an energy rating, so the price will stay as it is", and so on. I think it is quite a worrying amendment. As I said, legal opinion does not necessarily always support what the Law Society says on those concerns as well. We will not be supporting this amendment.
MR CORBELL (12.13): Mr Speaker, as I previously indicated, the Labor Party will not be supporting this amendment either. In the debate earlier Mr Moore advanced the proposition that one of the reasons for this amendment was the people who do the conveyancing themselves. They do not engage a solicitor. That is not a very strong argument. Whilst they may not advertise their home through the newspaper, where they are required to gain a certificate to include in the advertisement, clearly they do need to be aware of all the requirements associated with conveyancing, and this, if passed, will be one of the things that the law requires of them.