Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 17 June 2009) . . Page.. 2401 ..
of setting an energy efficiency standard for hot-water systems. The purpose of the bill was to reduce the environmental impacts and financial costs of hot-water systems for ACT homes. The bill I am introducing today is a replacement for that bill, and I will either withdraw the old version or allow it to lapse.
The new bill is the Water and Sewerage (Energy Efficient Hot-Water Systems) Legislation Amendment Bill 2009. It will have the same practical on-the-ground effect as the earlier version of the bill. However, as the new title reflects, the difference is that it takes a slightly different legislative approach. I decided to replace my earlier bill after advice from the excellent drafters at PCO that this would be a better way to achieve the desired outcome. They told me that, ideally, the bill should amend the Water and Sewerage Act and the water and sewerage regulation instead of amending the Building Act and building regulations. The water and sewerage instruments are a better home for my amendments, because they also contain other regulations about hot-water systems. So this new bill just ensures that the right laws are kept together. It is neater and cleaner, and basically it is just an administrative change.
The original version of my bill would have worked and, in fact, would have been using the same legislative tools that COAG is talking about using. It would have achieved the intended effect, and I contemplated bringing on the debate and asking the Assembly to vote for it in its current form, because it is imperative that we take action on climate change urgently. But I also want to pass the best laws in the best form, so I thought we should change to a better vehicle.
I was also influenced by the attitude of the government, which, unfortunately, has not been cooperative. The government told me that ACTPLA thought there was a better way to achieve the bill’s intended outcome. But, unfortunately, the government has continually refused to give me any details as to what it believed the problems were, and it did not allow me to receive a briefing from the ACTPLA experts in the area. It just has not worked with me on this issue.
It has now been almost three months since I introduced the bill, and my office have tried on numerous occasions to get more useful information from Mr Barr’s office, given that they made it clear that they would not support the bill, and they told the Canberra Times they would not support the bill in its present form. I have had to resort to writing formally to Minister Barr asking for information on the issues he saw with the bill, and that was a few weeks ago. Yesterday afternoon I actually got a response from Mr Barr, and my suggestion to other people who are having difficulties getting responses from the government is to put your item on the notice paper; you may well find that you then get a response from the government.
Mr Barr’s letter said he thought that the changes should be made in a more appropriate regulatory vehicle. As I have just said, I agree and, of course, by the time the letter had arrived, my staff and the PCO had already discovered this and had redrafted the bill, which is why I am reintroducing it today. However, Mr Barr’s letter also said that a principal concern with the bill was the actual policy objective, which I found a bit surprising. He said that the electric hot-water services are highly efficient appliances, which they are. The concern, he said, was the greenhouse gas intensity of coal-fired electricity generation.