Doorstop interview with Alicia Payne - Canberra, ACT

ALICIA PAYNE, MEMBER FOR CANBERRA: Good morning, everyone. My name is Alicia Payne. I’m the member for Canberra. And it’s wonderful to be here this morning at Martin de Domenico‘s home. Thank you so much to my constituent Martin for welcoming us this morning to look at his award-winning energy-reducing home.

So I’m here this morning with Jenny McAllister, the Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy, with Jocelyn Martin From HIA and Jenny Edwards from Light House Architecture, who do incredible work around our city.

Canberra is a city that faces really extreme weather. Obviously very cold in winter and can be very hot in summer. And it means that our homes often rely on using a lot of energy for heating and cooling. But we can do a lot to make them use less energy, and in doing so cut our power bills immensely. And that’s what this fantastic award-winning home here in Curtin has done with the work of Jenny’s architecture and Martin taking this, making this effort to do this. And he’s seen great results and it’s an absolutely beautiful home.

So the Albanese Labor Government is proud to be backing people in who want to do this and helping support people, including here in Canberra, to make our homes more energy efficient, to cut our power bills, helping with cost of living as what they are at the moment, and also helping our environment, which is so incredibly important. So, I’ll hand over now to Jenny McAllister.

SENATOR JENNY MCALLISTER, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE & ENERGY: Thank you very much Alicia for welcoming us. And can I also thank Martin for hosting us here in his lovely home. It is a beautiful spring morning and a fantastic opportunity to see a house like this in action. And we’ll talk about that a little more, because we’re joined by the architect, Jenny Edwards, and, of course, Jocelyn Martin from the HIA.

We know that higher-performing homes have so much to offer Australian households. They are more comfortable to live in, they are cheaper to run and, of course, they are considerably better for the environment because they are simply using less energy.

Now, for too long this was an area that was entirely neglected by the previous government. There are 7 million homes across Australia which were built before minimum standards were in place, and in many of these homes energy is literally leaking out the doors and windows.

We need to do better and we want to help households to do better. It’s the reason this was such a focus in our Budget in May. The government has allocated $1.7 billion in a package to help businesses, local government and of course households improve the performance of their home. And we know that if we can connect people with the right technologies and the right finance, they can make important investments that will make their homes significantly more comfortable to live in and much more affordable to run.

In the house we’re in here, it’s a 1960s duplex here in Curtin. It was rated as a three and a half-star rating(NABERs), and with a series of interventions led by Light House Architecture and Science, they’ve been able to increase the performance of this home to just over a seven-star rating. Solar PV on the roof, better appliances that are more efficient, but importantly, double glazing and draft sealing to make sure all the energy that’s being supplied here, whether it’s for heating or cooling, is kept inside the home and isn’t leaking out.

Now, the estimation from the owner after nearly a year of living here is that he’s going to reduce their energy bills by at least 70 per cent. It’s a remarkable achievement and it’s an important indication of what can be done even in older homes to improve energy performance.

Now, every morning the Liberals get up and want to pick a fight with the future. But the truth is that they are really picking a fight with the Australian people. Australians already lead the world in installation of solar PV on rooftops. We know that these technologies can bring real benefits to Australian homes, and it’s why our government is determined to support Australians to make the changes that we know they want to make. We know Australians want to make every watt count, and we want to help them do the same.

I’ll turn now to Jenny, I think, who’s going to say a few words about the project and then I’ll ask Jocelyn to say a few words also about some of the broader work that’s going on in the Housing Industry Association.

JENNY EDWARDS, LIGHT HOUSE ARCHITECTURE: Yeah, look, the great thing we’ve done here is show that you can transform existing housing stock. There are a lot of misconceptions out there that houses built in the 1960s are a lost cause, they can’t be turned into energy-efficient, healthy, and comfortable homes. And that’s wrong. With the unglamorous technologies of draught sealing and insulation and then double glazing we can massively improve the efficiency of houses. And hand-in-hand with that goes enjoyment, physical, mental and the health benefits to the people who reside in the home. So don’t underestimate what we can do with the existing housing stock. Then you combine that with PV on the roof and you can be way, way ahead.

MCALLISTER: Thanks, Jenny.

JOCELYN MARTIN, DIRECTOR OF HOUSING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION: So through our GreenSmart program HIA has been educating our members and recognising excellent projects like this renovation from Light House Architecture and Science for over 24 years. And what we’re finding is that there is more and more often interest from consumers about how to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. But the access to information and often the upfront cost is a bit of a deterrent for people to actually take that first step to make their homes more energy efficient. And so incentives and access to better information is something that I think that will be really welcomed by many of – many consumers and home owners.

Also what is amazing too about green energy is the opportunity – the clear opportunities for people looking for…[inaudible]

MCALLISTER: Martin, did you want to say a few things to wrap up?


MCALLISTER: If you can just tell us about this lovely home.

DE DOMENICO: Yeah, that’s right. Thanks, everybody, for coming. I guess, yeah, we’re really happy with the project and the energy savings we’ve had. That’s really down to Light House, to Jenny and to Anthony, the kind of lead architect on this project. We’ve made, yeah, considerable savings in energy use. That was important to us for not only the hip pocket but for the environmental benefits. The solar PV system on the roof has been a gamechanger and it was great the ACT Government interest-free loan really helped us to put those panels on upfront and we’re reaping those rewards now. So, yeah, it’s good to live in a comfortable house. In the middle of a Canberra winter to not be freezing to death is a novelty for me, so, yeah, we like it. And we’re hoping more people can do something similar.

MCALLISTER: Thanks, Martin.

DE DOMENICO: Thank you.

MCALLISTER: Happy to take any questions. No? Terrific. Thank you.