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Wednesday, 11 August 2004
Page: 2065

Dr STONE (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage) (1:56 PM) —Unfortunately, very little time has been left for me to appropriately and adequately sum up the debate on the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Bill 2004. There have been a number of contributions, and I want to acknowledge those. There was a similar contribution made by the shadow spokesman, the member for Wills, and the member for Scullin, who seemed to feel that this bill would somehow be the silver bullet or was the panacea. As the member for Mallee very rightly observed, this is just one element of a whole series of government initiatives which are designed to make Australia world best in the water use efficiency of its domestic appliances and also in its irrigation, stock and domestic water use on the land. It is part of a whole-of-government approach to water use management across Australia. Indeed, the Howard government has led this nation for the first time since Federation towards a new way to manage water to national standards. This legislation is just one component.

The Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Bill 2004 required a lot of negotiation with the states before it could come before us today so that we could have a comprehensive new national scheme. The water efficiency labelling and standards scheme is the first national scheme of its kind in the world. The water efficiency scheme will introduce mandatory water efficiency labels on all showers, washing machines, toilets, dishwashers and urinals and on some types of taps, as well as introduce some minimum water efficiency standards for toilets. Its voluntary water efficiency labels will also be available for flow-control devices.

There was some concern from the member for Wills that we did not go far enough—that the scheme is not extensive enough in its application in the first instance, with minimum standards only for toilets. The member for Wills and the member for Scullin do not seem to understand that there are different capabilities across Australia when you compare the capacity of some systems to use new equipment at this time. For example, there are some parts of Australia where water-efficient shower heads do not work at the moment as water pressure is far too low, so it would be a nonsense to immediately introduce a mandated minimum standard for shower heads until we have a better idea of how the market will work in those places. This whole scheme is iterative and, as the market responds to the initial labelling scheme and the minimum standards of toilets, we will work out how to subsequently extend the minimum standards across a whole range of other products.

Water efficient appliances do not just save water—and they are going to save a significant amount in this country. We know that, by 2021, the community stands to save more than $600 million through reduced water and electricity bills. Not only will we save significant amounts of water—for example, through efficient washing machines and with savings of about 25 per cent from showers and 22 per cent from toilets—but there will be significant energy savings as we have less hot water in use for those appliances.

The SPEAKER —Order! It being 2.00 p.m., the debate is interrupted in accordance with the standing orders. The debate may be resumed at a later hour and the member for Murray will have leave to continue speaking when the debate is resumed.