Page 2921 - Week 09 - Thursday, 18 August 2005

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released data shows that Portland, which is on the west coast of America and a relatively rich state, is called an environmental laboratory by some Americans.

Having set itself the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to below 1990 levels, not only has Portland achieved this, in fact it has over-achieved it and is booming economically. Officials in Portland insist that the campaign to cut carbon emissions has brought no significant economic price and, on the contrary, has brought huge benefits to the city. Less tax money is spent on energy; there is more convenient transport; there is a greener city; and there is expertise in energy efficiency that is helping local businesses win contracts worldwide.

The mayor of Portland has stated, “People have looked at it the wrong way, as a drain. Actually it’s something that attracts people … it’s economical; it makes sense in dollars.” In Portland the regional government—equivalent to ours—offers financial incentives and technical assistance to anyone constructing a green building with built-in energy efficiency. It also offers all city employees either a $25 per month bus pass or car park pooling.

There is a lot more I could say that I will no doubt say at a future time. I look forward to hearing a further explication in Mr Corbell’s own time on the issue he has just raised. I know, from my contacts and activities in Canberra, that we too have a burgeoning group of small businesses ready to go, based around sustainability. There is to be a sustainability breakfast meeting of these people—that is where I first started meeting them—on Friday week. If anyone wants to know more about it, contact me and I will tell you how to get in touch. There are small business people with the most amazing ideas. They are ready to go but they need government policy to give them the space, and to give people an incentive to take on their services. We could be the Portland of Australia. Why not? We have that. Maybe we do not have tax powers; I do not know about that. I have always thought that we should be exploring our revenue-raising opportunities, but I would say that these industries in themselves are revenue-raising opportunities.

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (4.20): I have heard such an amazing selection of ideas that I am almost inclined to throw my notes away and respond, but I will try to maintain the themes on which I wish to speak on this very important issue that has been brought to the attention of the Assembly by Mr Seselja. The outlook for Canberra’s social and commercial appeal to investors and residents is a very important issue and I am pleased that it is one we are discussing today. I was particularly impressed by a theme Mr Seselja took up from the fair perspective of a younger person: the matter of the ageing population.

I think I raised this subject the first day I was in the Assembly. It is a looming issue in Australia and by no means will Canberra be an exception. Our ageing community will be requiring an increased level of health and aged care services. There will be concerns on safety matters and a requirement to potentially alter people’s style of living in their own accommodation. The younger population will be challenged with the tax issues that arise from the needs of this older community. It will be very difficult for governments, and governments will be required to look at their priorities. I can see that, down the track, there will be some very difficult decisions to make.

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