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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 8 May 2008) . . Page.. 1606 ..

by adopting the 2008 building code of Australia requirements for energy efficiency ratings, Canberra’s energy efficiency standards have fallen to equal the worst in Australia. That is particularly pertinent to flats and apartments, which can now have EERs as low as three stars.

Can the minister explain how lowering the energy efficiency standards for apartments is consistent with this government’s claim to be a leader in energy efficiency initiatives, and can the minister justify having significantly lower energy efficiency standards for apartments and houses when it is easier to increase the energy efficiency of apartments?

MR BARR: I thank Dr Foskey for the question. She has raised an interesting point; one that is, of course, the subject of considerable debate, not just in the territory but at a national level. The ACT has, of course, set very high standards in terms of energy efficiency for new dwellings and it has also sought, through a range of measures, to ensure that there is a range of incentives in place for the retrofitting of older dwellings to improve their energy efficiency.

In relation to the specific issues that Dr Foskey has raised, it is clear that, as part of a broader national goal, we should be aspiring to improve the environmental efficiency of new dwellings. The ACT will be part of this national process, of this national debate. I have only recently, in fact, convened a forum of major industry representatives, representatives from various research institutes and a couple of local activists, who I think would be well known to members of the Assembly—Derek Wrigley and Professor John Sandeman—who have put forward a range of interesting ideas for further consideration for the ACT government.

I am very pleased with the progress of work within the planning authority around these issues and I look forward to being able to make some further substantive policy announcements in the areas that Dr Foskey has identified. I do believe that there is room for improvement within the ACT. But, clearly, we also form part of a broader national debate on these issues, which is important. Through forums such as the planning and local government ministers forum that Minister Hargreaves and I attended only about a month ago, these issues were discussed at a jurisdictional level across all Australian jurisdictions. We also look forward to some further announcements from the commonwealth government in relation to particular programs that they are proposing in this area.

So my words to Dr Foskey are that she can expect some major policy announcements in this area in the weeks ahead.

MR SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Dr Foskey?

DR FOSKEY: Can the minister advise the Assembly what process is in place to improve the mandatory efficiency requirements for apartments and flats and how the ACT can ever take the lead in ensuring all our buildings become more energy efficient than those of other states?

MR BARR: I thank Dr Foskey for the supplementary. I do note that she completely ignored the answer I gave previously in asking the supplementary, but it was—

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