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Government urged to embed sustainability in housing plans.

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

The Federal Opposition has urged the Rudd Government not to ignore the opportunity to embed meaningful sustainability goals in taxpayer-funded Commonwealth housing initiatives, emphasising that sustainability and affordability go hand-in-hand.

Shadow Minister for Sustainable Development and Cities, Bruce Billson highlighted how increased Federal Government funding support for activity and affordability in the housing market provided “golden opportunities” to also secure significant sustainability and greenhouse abatement gains.

Mr Billson said the Government’s National Rental Affordability Scheme for example should also incorporate sustainability within its key goals. This scheme will provide tax offsets and cash incentives to encourage large-scale investment in new affordable housing stock.

“Sustainability starts at home and any Commonwealth Government support to encourage new housing activity would be deficient if it did not encourage scheme participants to strive for environmentally-friendly outcomes, such as improved energy and water efficiency”, he said.

"There are wonderful opportunities for clear sustainability objectives to be embedded in schemes such as the rental affordability and First Home Owner Grants. The material in the public domain regarding the rental affordability scheme pays only fleeting attention to sustainability, on the basis of ‘it would be nice if proposals factored it in’.

“In relation the National Rental Affordability Scheme the Coalition believes access to solar panel and solar hot water rebate schemes should be 'as of right' entitlements," Mr Billson said.

"Energy and water efficiency, achieved by smart design and appliance selection are the types of additional public policy dividends that should be secured when the Commonwealth provides taxpayer funding for the construction of new housing stock.

Mr Billson told parliament that more sustainable housing is both environmentally and economically viable and will have greater appeal as sustainability features make tenancies more affordable to occupy and more attractive to invest and live in.

“Incorporating clear sustainability objectives “sends a strong signal to the building industry and the market general that these things are within our reach. They are entirely commercially viable, readily accessible, ready-to-deploy attributes”, Mr Billson said.