Page 2402 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 17 June 2009

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The Greens certainly agree that coal-fired power is central to the greenhouse problem, but I just do not quite understand what the government’s position is here. Is its position that because the problem is coal-fired generation we should not be taking any action to increase energy efficiency? That appears to be what Mr Barr is suggesting, and I am not quite sure what this means for Mr Corbell’s intentions that he expressed yesterday of making Canberra into a solar city. I would like to hear whether Mr Corbell is united with Mr Barr on this position—that is, that energy efficiency policies are not really needed because the fundamental problem is coal-fired electricity generation. If it is the case that that is the government’s position, I believe the support for my bill is, in fact, even more urgent, because it is no longer clear that the ACT government would even support COAG’s moves towards better hot-water efficiency standards.

I should mention at this point that I do appreciate very much Mr Corbell’s response to my request that the government should consider expanding the present heat rebate scheme for replacement hot-water services. I believe this is going to become part of the increased switch your thinking program. I am hopeful that we will have a situation where there is a stand-alone rebate for replacement of inefficient hot-water services, one that does not require the householder to first have a full audit done of their property.

I now present a new version of my bill to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from hot-water heating. The bill does, as I said, take a better administrative approach than the original bill but, basically, it achieves the same outcomes. I am hopeful that the government will now support it and, of course, I am happy to work with the government and the Liberal Party on any amendments or improvements that either party would like to make. We have already experienced a lengthy delay between my first introduction of the bill and now, so I feel the need to remind the Assembly that global warming is accelerating at a terrifying rate.

Scientists are having to reassess their worst-case predictions for climate change impacts. The Arctic summer ice, for instance, is now expected to melt entirely in the next five years—80 years earlier than previously thought. Just in the few months between introducing my original bill and this bill, the important Wilkins ice shelf underwent rapid deterioration, with scientists expecting part of it to break up. As we all know, we are already experiencing climate change impacts in Australia—droughts, fires, floods, threats to wildlife, natural icons, the impacts on agriculture. A safe climate response demands that we reduce our emissions as fast as humanly possible, and we cannot afford to be complacent.

I am aware that COAG has been moving towards introducing the hot-water efficiency standard nationally. However, this is not even scheduled to be implemented for another two years—that is, mid-2011—and that is provided that there are no delays. Unfortunately, in national schemes, there typically are. Two years is just too long to wait, and when this COAG standard is finally implemented, it will only apply to new dwellings, and that is not enough. Most buildings are, of course, existing buildings. Most hot-water services which are going to be installed are going to be installed in existing houses. My bill applies a standard to both new and existing houses.

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