Remarks on Climateworks Centre Renovation Pathways Research Report, Parliament House

Thank you very much, Anna. And thank you for acknowledging the Traditional Owners. I'm also wanting to acknowledge the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people and their elders past and present.

Can I also acknowledge my colleagues, Senator Grogan and Senator Walsh, it's a pleasure to have you here with us. And I would like also to say that it's lovely to see so many stakeholders here in the Parliament.

It is a bit of a sad day, and I want to say that as well. I think most of you will know that today the House of Representatives will convene to spend time celebrating the life of our colleague, our dear colleague, Peta Murphy. And I know that Peta and her husband Rod are part of the Monash family, and that there will be many people in the Monash community who also feel Peta’s loss really keenly. And I wanted to acknowledge that and express my condolences and sympathies to you also. You loved her, and we loved her too - and we’ll do her proud today.

Anna, I thank you for talking us through the renovation pathways research. And can I congratulate you, Gillian and the team on the report. Gillian came and gave us a briefing on the data a few weeks ago and I have been holding it in inside, resisting the temptation to shout about it. So, it's a really important opportunity today to finally be able to discuss it.

Since that briefing, of course, Australia has made an important announcement. We've joined over 115 countries pledging to triple renewable energy and double energy efficiency by 2030. And so tonight, I will depart for COP negotiations, joining my colleague Chris Bowen. Together we'll be there at the COP, looking for an ambitious outcome at this midway point between Paris in 2015 and 2030.

I've been asked to join the Chilean Minister, Minister Rojas in co-facilitating the adaptation workstream where parties are seeking to establish a clear framework to establish - to measure our progress on our adaptation goal.

And so, it's great to be here today talking about energy efficiency, because of course it reduces emissions. Of course, it can help us reduce our costs. But it also can prepare us for a climate which is changing. And there are some changes to the climate that we can't avoid.

One of the things I really like about this piece of work and Climateworks more generally, is that it responds in a practical way to the mechanics of reform. The reform mechanics that exist in our government, in our industry and within our federation.

Reform requires more than slogans and Climateworks is amongst the best in thinking carefully about the “how” as well as the “what”.

And I'm going to be honest and upfront with you. The government does not agree with all of the recommendations in the report. There are no federal plans to ban gas connections. And our view is that this is a policy area best left to the states and territories.

But the report deals with many of the challenges that households, industries and governments are tackling right now. It identifies some of the mechanisms that we can use to contemplate these issues, cost benefits, quality and type of housing stock and the impact of place in the way that we pursue these policies.

And for government, this report in particular helps explain what type of housing exists, what kind of benefits might apply in particular housing types, where that housing is and what the grid impacts might be and what the benefits to consumers can be.

There are a few more fundamental truths than the fact that Australians are very proud of our homes. Many of us love a trip to Bunnings. There isn't much more than we love than renovating, and most families have some kind of project on the go.

To paraphrase a keen renovator Darryl Kerrigan, a great Australian, our homes are our castles, and we do need a renovation revolution across the country to futureproof our castles.

We want our castles to be cooler in summer, warmer in winter and ready for our changing climate. renovations and upgrades can make homes more comfortable, greener and as this report so convincingly shows, cheaper to run.

Tackling this challenge, though, is not a small task. Of Australia’s 11 million homes, about seven or eight million were built before the introduction of minimum energy performance standards. The new standard being introduced is seven stars. But in our existing homes, a huge proportion are likely two stars or less.

So that's a big renovation. But we think Australians are up for the challenge. But sometimes with challenges, it can be a little overwhelming to know where to begin, and the data gives us a really useful starting point.

As Anna indicated, the most common type of property in Australia the standalone house is the dwelling type, where the most cost-effective innovations are to be found.

Turns out, our traditional castle stands to benefit the most from simple upgrades.

But Australia is a big place, and we know that the solution to freezing Tasmanian winters is not going to be the same as the solution for wet Darwin days. And Gillian’s report has an answer for that too.

Location is important when we're planning an upgrade. So, while all upgrades deliver energy savings, there are vast differences between states on the impact that particular upgrades can have.

And it's why in the policy design, we are undertaking as a Commonwealth, we've placed so much emphasis on that partnership with each of the states and territories to identify the way that we are going to work in each jurisdiction.

This can all impact broadly on the energy system and the border transformation of that system. Efficient homes use less power, and in particular, they use less power at peak times.

And the report helps us understand the impact that upgrades could have in reducing peak demand. The indication is a 30 to 77 per cent reduction in peak household demand, depending on the location, depending on the upgrade.

And the very important piece of the puzzle that the research highlights is that energy performance upgrades significantly reduce the cost of running a home.

A quick fix and a modest upgrade are largely cost effective for households. It can save households up to $1,690 a year. It's around 40% of a typical domestic energy bill. And all of this data are the very reasons why the government is placing such an emphasis on this policy area.

We want more Australians to access energy performance upgrades to help drive down emissions, drive down energy use and put downward pressure on power bills.

That's why we've invested $1 billion into the CEFC to encourage a wide variety of green financial products at lower rates to incentivize these kinds of upgrades and activities in the market.

Making upgrades has many benefits, but it is not straightforward. There can be information gaps, and trouble dealing with multiple tradespeople and uncertainty about how efficient your home might be right now.

The challenge is for us to build an ecosystem that can deliver retrofits at scale over time.  And that is what our $1.7 billion package is about. We're trying to lower the upfront cost of energy performance upgrades, upgrade social housing stock for those parts of the community that really are not going to be able to undertake this by themselves.

We're investing in home energy ratings tools so people can access credible information about the performance of their home. And we've raised minimum standards for new builds and extended the rating system for homes.

We are determined to lower emissions, make homes more comfortable and affordable to run by making every watt count.

So, it is my very great pleasure to launch this report. Can I thank you all for your contribution as stakeholders, as researchers for your thoughtful, engaged and truly thoughtful work.