Page 3901 - Week 10 - Thursday, 27 August 2009

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Sustainable House Day

MS LE COUTEUR (Molonglo) (6.33): I rise to talk about a very nice event that will be happening: Sustainable House Day. Sustainable House Day is the offshoot of what used to be Solar House Day. It started, certainly from my point of view, in the late 1980s. In those days, it was organised by ANZSES, the Australia New Zealand Solar Energy Society. This has since morphed into the Sustainable House Day and has the backing of the Alternative Technology Association.

The first time that I met Mrs Dunne was at one of those days. She came to my house, which was there as an example; it was a retrofit house. Sustainable House Day involves a bunch of Canberra houses whose owners put them on display so that you can see what you can actually do in Canberra practically to have a more sustainable house. There are new houses and there are retrofit houses, as mine was.

This year it will be totally free; there has been sponsorship so that it will be totally free. If you want to go, which I would recommend to everyone, to see what we really can do here, just Google “Sustainable House Day”. It is on 13 September, in many locations in Canberra, including where I used to work, which is Canberra’s first six-green star office building, Australian Ethical. There is also an intro night on Tuesday, 8 September; so if you want to come and hear more of the theory behind sustainable houses, the feed-in tariff and the topic we were talking about this morning, development density in the ACT, I would recommend this to all members.

Legislative Assembly—sitting hours

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (6.35): Tonight I would like to talk about the intent and implementation of extending the sitting days that were brought in at the beginning of this term of the Legislative Assembly. If you recall, the Canberra Liberals argued strongly that extra days were the better way forward, giving more chances for private members’ motions to be brought on, more debates to occur on non-executive business and, more importantly, more question times to scrutinise the government.

The Greens proposed and pushed through an alternative: fewer weeks than we proposed but extended the days in order to deal with the business. I think we should have a look at how that has gone. In short, there has been use of extra time but there have been lots of wasted opportunities. I am not talking about robust debate which, even though the Greens sometimes seem to dislike it, forms an integral part of the parliamentary process; I am talking about interminable interruptions, petty points of order and, most importantly, the total lack of agenda that sees the government business days finish early time after time. In fact, today the government proposed to suspend standing orders so that we did almost no government business again. Just this week, the government’s pathetic parliamentary performance continued as they failed to fill their day with business, finishing 4½ hours short of the allocated time on Tuesday.

What issues did they need to address? They had shaved the Fringe Festival; they had demolished the TAMs budget; they had a tax ticked off by the courts; and we had lost yet more bulk-billing doctors. But what did the government bring forward this week?

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