Page 119 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 9 December 2008

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is the plumber visit program, where a qualified plumber visits houses and undertakes maintenance and repairs. It will save water for the environment, costs for the householders and create local jobs.

The agreement calls for the feed-in tariff to be fast tracked. This is a really important green economy stimulus because it sets a long-term price signal supporting renewable energy and lets business and the community work out the best way of supplying it. In Europe, feed-in tariffs have been largely responsible for the huge increase in solar and wind installations and businesses. Importantly, and in support of the feed-in tariff, the agreement calls for “legislating for improved solar access rights” as they are essential to make household-scale solar energy viable. Households should not invest their money in solar panels only to find that a year later their neighbour has blocked the sun to their panels.

Again, in the agreement we have supported the proposed renewable energy plant which, as well as greenhouse gas free energy, should provide continuing local jobs. It could also be the foundation of a new green industry in the ACT. There will be a trial of organic waste collection over the next year, and this could be the start of a new organic waste utilisation business in the ACT.

In addition to these specific agreements with the Labor Party, the Greens would like to see the government take a more active role in refocusing our economy towards a sustainable future. The agreement with the ALP also includes “develop a detailed government strategy, with appropriate incentives, that supports the ongoing growth of the green economy in the ACT”. In doing this, the government will be able to build on a lot of Australian work in this area. Many states have programs specifically designed for this, such as the Queensland sustainable energy innovation fund and the Victorian energy technology innovation strategy. In addition, the ACTU and the Australian Conservation Foundation have recently published a report, Green gold rush: how ambitious environmental policy can make Australia a leader in the race for green jobs. It identifies six sectors that are green and could grow. The six are: renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable water systems, biomaterials, green buildings, waste and recycling.

I will now move on to areas that we could not include in the agreement. We understand that the ACT Treasurer has proposed an economic stimulus package for February next year. We support this, as we agree with Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens who, in a recent speech, said there was nothing wrong with using additional government spending to stimulate economic growth during a slowdown for “worthwhile” purposes.

We see the worthwhile purposes being things that set us up for the future. We should be investing in climate change adaptation and in the development of the green economy in the ACT, and we should be doing it in a way that supports those Canberrans who are less economically fortunate. The energy efficiency makeover program that I mentioned earlier would be a prime candidate for additional funding in the package. So would the plumber visits, bike paths, footpath fixing and improved public transport, which will become even more important when petrol prices rise again.

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