Page 1275 - Week 04 - Thursday, 10 April 2008

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development applications—I also accept the need to ensure that the planning system is efficient and for appropriate developments to be approved efficiently and in a timely fashion.

I agree with Dr Foskey that the views of the community should be heard. Both sides need to be consulted in relation to any planning development but I do believe that the current system largely allows for residents’ concerns to be considered. Some have argued to me that too much consideration is given to objectors. It is never easy to strike a balance in these matters. We certainly do not want a system that accommodates vexatious complainants or people who are holding their hand out for compensation by utilising the objection process. They will not always influence the result but I believe that they are heard and, in appropriate cases, the result of the development application has been changed on occasions.

I have some sympathy and support for ensuring that new homes are energy efficient but my overriding concern is ensuring that people are not at a disadvantage in their attempts to enter or sustain themselves in the housing market. You have to take into account the additional cost that mandatory efficiency standards would result in. I fundamentally have a different view to the Greens on this issue that, irrespective of cost, we must embrace measures in the context of climate change, regardless of the impact on ordinary people.

The view is expounded that it is for the common good to impose these sorts of measures, whether they be taxing regimes or regulatory measures. I cannot accept the fact that any regulatory attempts to change the market for environmental reasons are justified without exception. You have to take into account the impact of the additional cost that mandatory efficiency standards result in.

I am always mindful of the position of homeowners in debates like this. In many debates, including those we frequently have on housing affordability, it seems that there is a tendency to forget, overlook or ignore the position of homeowners. I am talking about existing homeowners. Should the housing market be even more difficult to enter so that we can have mandatory efficiency ratings? I do not believe so. I have more faith in the market than Dr Foskey obviously has. She fears that, unless it is mandatory, people will not choose to live in energy-efficient houses.

I do not accept that just because someone, whoever he is, is a spokesman for AV Jennings he is the font of all knowledge on these matters. I think all of us, if not for any altruistic reason but for the fact that it impacts on the bottom line, take all possible measures to manage energy use in our home environments, whether it is as simple as changing the type of lighting used, the heating and cooling systems or even going to greater lengths in terms of glass. All of these factors people do initiate and more often than not they do it because of the financial impact rather than because they are forced to.

I believe that if enough people want to live in higher standards of energy-efficient homes the industry will respond and produce these homes. If people do not want to make the outlay for homes with these features, then I do not believe it is the role of the government to force them into this position, save having regulations that ensure appropriate standards of construction occur.

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