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Thursday, 21 June 2007
Page: 130

Mr GEORGANAS (9:54 AM) —I too rise to speak on climate change and how we can all do our small bit to ensure that we lessen the burning of carbons. I fully agree with the member for Bonner, who is one of the few members to acknowledge that climate change exists and is damaging our world. Climate change continues to be a big issue. It is of great importance and many of us are now finding different ways of conserving energy within our own living spaces. Converting our homes to be environmentally friendly is not always affordable. For many people and families the goal of being environmentally friendly is unattainable.

Even though the member for Bonner acknowledged the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources and the recent policy of assisting people, it is still a goal that is very unattainable for lower-income families. Small gestures such as recycling and conserving water are relatively inexpensive. However, other measures, such as installing energy efficient light bulbs, solar panels and rainwater tanks, can be expensive. An increasing number of households around Australia are finding it difficult to cope. As the cost of housing is now seven times the average annual income, a decrease in housing affordability has placed pressure on the finances of lower- and middle-income families and as such this means less money is available for these families to invest in green energy practices.

With housing affordability at such a low, it seems impossible to ask these struggling households to spend more money to convert their homes to green energy practices. State and federal governments must do more to assist these people to transform their homes where possible. Like most of us in this place, I am privileged to be in a situation where I can afford to transform my house into being 100 per cent green through my energy provider. This is not the case for all South Australians or Australians. Most low-income families cannot afford to spend money making their houses more sustainable through energy efficient practices. Lower-income families are more concerned with making sure they have enough money to pay the household bills and place food on the table.

To convert a residence to 100 per cent solar energy would cost anywhere between $20,000 to $100,000. This environmental retrofit would include things such as a solar electricity unit, solar hot water, water recycling and rainwater tanks. It is anticipated that, within a decade, housing that does not use energy and water saving devices will be looked upon as second rate and the prices for non-energy efficient houses may drop. Those who have not invested in energy saving practices, such as lower-income households, could be left with a lower return rate on their properties. I encourage all households to look at ways to be energy efficient and ask that Australians get together to help others become green wherever they can. I ask state and federal governments to do all they can to assist lower-income families that perhaps cannot attain the green energy that the rest of us aspire to. (Time expired).