Page 2263 - Week 06 - Friday, 27 June 2008

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Molonglo will be high and medium density from the very start, the main road into the town will be two lanes, instead of incorporating a bus or light rail capacity, forcing people in this 21st century town to rely on their cars to get to work. On questioning I was told that when the required density is there, that is, after the first suburbs are built and residents have adapted to the need for constant car travel, the government might find the money to widen the road for rapid transit buses or light rail.

Since the government is seeking a premium on land sales it makes sense to harvest the extra revenue that is gained by blocks that are well serviced by rapid bus transit or by rail. There is plenty of evidence that suburban homes and blocks of land with good access to public transport sell for higher prices. Imagine Molonglo with light rail or rapid bus transit systems along Cotter Road to the new town centre, with buses taking people to their homes from those transport hubs. I would have thought it was a no-brainer for any new town, but unfortunately the ACT government has not applied a futuristic lens and is stuck in a traffic jam of old ideas.

In this context, then, despite the good work that is being done by ACTPLA in other areas it is hard to see how the authority is contributing to the government’s climate change response or, if it is, how meaningful that response really is. While ACTPLA may argue that it is supporting the ACT government’s action plan on affordable housing, there is simply not yet enough affordable housing in new developments in central areas where a social mix, life and diversity in our streets is desired and where there is easy access of transport and services. I need only to mention Kingston and City West as places where government has promised there would be a percentage of affordable or social housing and there is none.

We now have a new planning system. Members would be well aware that the Greens opposed the introduction of this system, both for what it does in some cases and for what it fails to do in others. While we are not opposed to many features of this new system, it is deeply flawed in the way in which it takes power away from communities and delivers it to developers and planning authorities. I note that one of the features of the new regime is a shift away from regulation at a local level to compliance with national codes.

According to Energy Partners, the 2008 Building Code of Australia requirements for energy efficiency ratings which we adopted in May this year has meant:

Canberra’s energy efficiency standards have fallen to equal the worst in Australia. For the past decade all new apartments had to achieve an Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) of 4 stars or above. However the new code only requires an average EER of 4 stars in an apartment block, meaning that new apartments could have energy efficiency ratings as low as 3 stars. In effect, the ACT has reverted to our energy efficiency standards of 1995, more than a decade ago.

Nor are homes in the ACT guaranteed solar access. As long as living areas are exposed to a minimum of three hours of sunlight, then residents have no recourse if any other part of their property, including the roof, is overshadowed. While, on the one hand, we are proceeding with a feed-in tariff law, on the other we are happy to put that opportunity out of the reach of residents or, presumably, interfere with their

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