Page 511 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 16 February 2005

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MR SESELJA (Molonglo) (4.28): The opposition will be supporting the government’s amendments but with an amendment of our own, which I shall move, so I will be speaking to all three motions, I believe.

There are some parts of the motion put forward by Dr Foskey that are sympathetic with our stated policies for reduction of energy use by both government and private residents. The Liberals have, through our policies prior to the election, announced targets for reduction in water use, increased energy efficiency in residential housing and the installation of solar hot water in new housing. These measures are aimed at moving towards better sustainability for the territory.

I think we need to be very careful, however, when we move towards the imposition of mandatory targets. I do not know that we are able to say that there is a particular target, an ideal level or requirement, and then say it is mandatory. Either the level we set is a mandatory requirement and must be met, or is it a target, a recommended and desirable level that we would like to achieve, that acts as a guideline for industry to work towards.

I do not think that what is needed at this time is the big stick approach that Dr Foskey wants us to take, dictating to industry about supposed targets and the adoption of a system which, by all accounts, has been riddled with issues around its implementation, is not understood properly by the community and has meant uncertainty for the construction industry in New South Wales. We have seen delays with the implementation of the BASIX scheme by New South Wales in relation to multiunit dwellings, with February of this year pushed back to July.

I also have concerns about the impact of this motion on housing affordability. The BASIX system in New South Wales requires parties involved to commit to positions such as whether or not they will have airconditioners, water tanks and other facilities within their homes. I would hate to think that they would then need to commit absolutely to installing some of these features as part of the approval of their home, especially as there can be enormous financial pressures on persons constructing a new home. If unforeseen circumstances strike, the resident may not be able to meet the commitments they made pre DA. It may mean that a cheaper or less efficient appliance needs to be purchased. It may also mean further cost in the design and construction of new homes at a time when the government is seeking to introduce further measures for the design of homes, for example, bushfire measures. Indeed, Mr Corbell said at the time of that announcement that, although the costs were estimated to be around $5,000, he suggested that for residents building new homes it was not a significant impact. I would suggest that there are many residents of Gungahlin, or the south of Tuggeranong or other parts of Canberra, the recent purchasers of home building blocks under the moderate income land ballot, who would love to think that $5,000 was not a significant sum but, unfortunately, that is not the case.

As I have said, I cannot provide support for a big stick approach, but there are certainly elements that could be looked at by the opposition in more detail before we could support such a motion in the future. I therefore move the following amendment to Mr Hargreaves’s amendments:

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