Page 2304 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 5 August 2015

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I am proud that our government, led by the Minister for the Environment, has taken such a strong approach to renewable energy. We see renewable energy as an opportunity to create jobs and to build a stronger, more diverse and cleaner ACT economy. It is the smart states and the early movers who stand to gain from the growth in the global renewable energy industry, an industry that is expecting $7 trillion in investment during the next 20 years. Renewable energy jobs in the ACT have increased fourfold in the past five years. One local commercial and residential solar installer has grown from two to 22 employees in less than two years.

The prices the government is achieving for consumers are showing the great strengths of our policies in this area. The wind and solar auction processes, combined with the current ideal market conditions, are driving lower costs per megawatt hour than forecast originally. As a result of this lower unit pricing, the cost to the territory in pursuing our 90 per cent target has actually come down, and we expect that market conditions will continue to drive down costs. In 2020 our large-scale investments will reduce Canberra’s total emissions by 1.2 million tonnes, around 25 per cent. Of course, the government continues to push for further advances, for example through the next-generation solar EOI process recently announced.

Australians have come to understand, despite the current federal government, that we can all do our bit for a cleaner future. Households have installed rooftop solar in their hundreds of thousands. New businesses have established to pursue the great commercial opportunities. Workers and trade unions have seen the need to prepare for transition, and are calling on their governments to lead it. The adjustment will not be easy for coal-based regional economies, such as Latrobe Valley, but everyone, including the workers, knows that the best response is to prepare for change and not simply put your head in the sand.

I want to note that pursuing energy efficiency is an important part of new developments and maintenance activities in Housing ACT. As members know, Housing ACT’s capital program funds replacement properties as well as the upgrade and refurbishment of existing properties. Included in this is a range of works to improve the energy efficiency of the dwellings, particularly improvement to the thermal qualities of the home.

One of the greatest drawbacks of our old housing stock is the difficulty of keeping homes warm on cold days like today. That is why Housing regularly carries out works to install ceiling and wall insulation and to seal against drafts to help tenants keep energy use and costs down. Five-star gas and solar hot-water systems have been installed in more than 700 dwellings, together with water-saving devices in toilets and showers. As I said yesterday during the MPI, encouraging active transport by locating public housing close to walking and cycling networks is also a feature of Housing ACT’s work.

Madam Deputy Speaker, what is emerging is a picture, particularly here in the ACT but across Australia, where more and more people across our community are embracing the possibilities of renewable energy. There is a similar theme internationally, with recent commitments such as those that have just been made in the United States.

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