Page 118 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 9 December 2008

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So what can we do here in Canberra? The Greens support a multi-pronged approach to developing the green economy. We support government regulation to ensure that minimum standards are maintained. But we recognise that regulation should provide a floor, not a ceiling, and that regulation can lead to a compliance burden for both business and government. We support government leading by example, and this can be in areas like green procurement and green buildings.

We support targeted business development programs. The ACT government has a wide range of business assistance programs. As far as I can tell, they have one feature in common: sustainability is not one of the criteria. By leaving this out, the government is ignoring one of the most powerful drivers for future economic development. The ACT Greens would like to see all business assistance programs reframed to include sustainability as a significant selection criterion.

We support governments providing correct pricing signals in good time, so that business and the community can adapt. Some of the most significant of these, such as the emissions trading regime, are in the federal sphere, and we urge the ACT government to discuss the best way to incorporate voluntary emission reductions in the scheme. Some are local, such as tip fees and other waste disposal charges.

We support government building on the strengths of the region. A major strength is that the ACT is a knowledge economy, and in particular we have a considerable research capacity which is built on the foundation of the ANU and CSIRO. In this context, we support the government’s recent investment in the ANU’s new climate change institute. As Professor Will Steffen, the institute head, said, “We can devise a way of using our own city and the Canberra region as one big laboratory to test new ideas.” Finally, we support government not getting in the way of business or the community trying to do the right thing.

More concretely, we have put some of the ways to move to a greener economy in our agreement with the Labor Party. I will discuss some of its more relevant features and then move on to other measures that we think are important. A key feature of the agreement is an energy-efficient makeover of Canberra houses rated lower than three stars. This program is a triple winner. It is a winner for the environment because once the houses have been made over they will need less energy to heat and cool them, so less energy will be used and less greenhouse gases produced. It is a winner for the occupants of the houses because it will cost them less to heat and cool their houses. This is particularly important because many of these houses are owned by Housing ACT and most of these tenants cannot afford high energy bills. And it is a winner for the ACT economy. The jobs of insulating houses are inherently local jobs which can be done by local businesses.

Our agreement with the Labor Party provides additional money to double the current retrofitting program for ACT housing stock and immediate funding to assist ACT residents to access the new commonwealth energy efficiency funding. However, as the agreement says, “The parties agree that further initiatives will be necessary to achieve the program aims.” We look forward to working with consumers, business and the government to develop the further initiatives. A similar triple winner program

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