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Sustainability relegated to 'optional extra' in taxpayer-backed housing scheme.

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The Hon Bruce Billson MP Shadow Minister for Sustainable Development and Cities

The Rudd Government today missed a golden opportunity to embed clear sustainability obligations in the taxpayer-funded National Rental Affordability Scheme the Shadow Minister for Sustainable Development and Cities Bruce Billson said.

When the Government introduced legislation for the creation of the scheme - which will see tax offsets and cash incentives to encourage large-scale investment in affordable housing - the Coalition urged it to incorporate sustainability as well as affordability within its ‘must have’ requirements.

Instead, sustainability was relegated to ‘optional extra’ status within the scheme’s guidelines. Rather than be embedded in the ‘mandatory requirements’, sustainability gained a fleeting mention in the scheme’s ‘weighted criteria’ only.

Mr Billson highlighted this glaring weakness and urged the Government to elevate the status of unambiguous sustainability objectives within the scheme prior to it being passed by the Parliament.

“The Rudd Government had a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate it was fair dinkum about doing it all it can to achieve environmentally-friendly outcomes for taxpayer-funded housing measures, for up to 50,000 additional dwellings over the next four years.

“This was a golden opportunity passed over by the Rudd Government to embed commercially viable and ready-to-deploy sustainability features that would make the resulting homes more affordable to rent and more affordable to run, as well as more attractive for investors.

“Outcomes such as greenhouse abatement gains, smart housing design, improved water and energy efficiency and the like warranted being ‘must have’ not ‘nice if’ project selection criteria.

In relation to the Rental Affordability Scheme the Coalition also suggested ‘as of right’ entitlement to solar panel and solar hot water rebate schemes,” Mr Billson said.

“Sadly, these thoughtful and positive suggestions were ignored by the Rudd Government and missed was the opportunity to achieve real and meaningful sustainability outcomes.