Page 1655 - Week 05 - Thursday, 8 May 2008

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yesterday. In his po-faced answer about public safety, he included in public safety initiatives the money for the morgue. A certain number of people will unfortunately end up in the morgue because of failings of public safety, so I suppose in some sense it is a public safety initiative, but I thought it was rather comic. You need to find your comedy where you can.

As I said, there are a whole lot of piecemeal initiatives in relation to the environment. There are small amounts of money. There is an extraordinary amount of rebadging. We have got the “Switching your thinking” program, which has been in various budgets in various forms; we are not in any way fooled by the fact that the government keeps changing its mind. They are small amounts of money when we should be looking at much better investment in energy efficiency. Energy efficiency is what in modern parlance people call the “low-hanging fruit” when it comes to environmental change and abating greenhouse gas emissions.

The McKinsey report that came out earlier this year pointed to the fact that, because Australia has particularly poorly insulated houses and we spend so much of our money on heating and cooling our houses, we can make truly substantial improvements in greenhouse gas emissions by insulating our homes properly. Simply doing that, and by the expenditure of something like $1,500 to properly insulate your roof, will return you a saving every year—year on year for the life of a house—of two tonnes of CO2. On current costs, that amounts to about a $260 saving in electricity. For an investment of somewhere between $1,000 and $1,500 on insulation, you will save yourself money year on year. After five years, you are saving yourself money. And the community is better off. That is $260 in modern-day terms that Canberra families would have to spend on textbooks and school uniforms—money that people do not have now because they are heating their houses and cooling their houses through the filter of the roof. We have a paltry $4½ million over four years to address this issue.

There are incentive programs. There are some more incentive programs. There is the heat program. The heat program is a great program, but it is being done in a piecemeal fashion. There is not the money in the budget to do anything substantial and turn out large amounts of insulation into the ACT community.

The amount of money and effort that has been put into insulation in government housing is an improvement, but it is too slow. At a really conservative estimate, the poorest and most vulnerable people in the ACT—people who live in government housing—are probably paying $260 a year more for their heating than they need to. They are probably not paying it, because they do not have the money. They are probably going to bed early with socks, beanies and jumpers on because they do not have the money to heat their houses. They should not have to live in circumstances like that.

I have constituents who have come to me with mould that appears on the inside of their walls every year. Their children get sick. The mould appears on the inside of their walls simply because their houses are not insulated. This is a first-world country. People who live in public housing should not have to take sick kids to the hospital with respiratory conditions because they have mould on the inside of their walls. If the government is serious about climate change, it is not shown in this budget.

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