8 September 2010 – No matter who individuals voted for in the federal election, the property industry itself – and regional Australia – ought to be well pleased that a Gillard Government has been confirmed. As long as the pre-election commitments, and those snared by the “Indies” during the agonising negotiations of the past few weeks, are realised.

On offer from Labor was a nice string of inducements to keep greening our building stock and to plan for a tougher urban environment.

Among the following are highlights of industry reactions The Green Building Council of Australia for one, wasted no time in reminding the newly elected Prime Minister Julia Gillard what was promised, even though some of these bounties were not well promoted before the election… strangely.

From the Green Building Council of Australia

Chief executive of the GBCA Romilly Madew reminded Ms Gillard that Labor had promised:

  • A $30 million boost to the Green Building Fund to support retrofits for existing commercial buildings for greater energy-efficiency.
  • Tax breaks for green buildings, which will allow businesses that invest in eligible assets or capital works to improve the energy efficiency of their existing buildings to apply for a one-off bonus tax deduction of 50 per cent of the cost of the eligible assets or capital works.
  • Clean 21, Federal Labor’s strategy to strengthen manufacturing and fight climate change by reducing pollution, cutting costs, increasing innovation and supporting quality jobs in industry. The Clean 21 Strategy includes appointing Built Environment Supplier Advocate and a Technology Innovation Network.
  • A renewed commitment to deliver Federal Labor’s Research and Development Tax Credit, which is estimated to be worth $1.6 billion a year to business.
  • $100 million in initial funding for the Australian Carbon Trust to provide a range of innovative financing and advisory services for business to promote investment in, take-up and use of energy-efficient technologies and practices. Initial program activities will concentrate on retrofits of non-residential buildings.
  • $80 million to support Local Council and Communities through the Low Carbon Communities initiative.

Ms Madew said: “The Gillard Government’s pre-election commitments will deliver long- term sustainable outcomes and support the work being done by industry to green our built environment.”

“But more needs to be done. Buildings represent the best, fastest, most cost-effective opportunity for greenhouse gas abatement.

“The GBCA hasidentified five policy priorities which we believe will best maximise the opportunities of sustainable buildings, communities and cities. We will continue to pursue these points with the new government, and look forward to

From The Property Council of Australia

Property Council chief executive officer Peter Verwer congratulated the Gillard Government but also pointed to the new importance of The Greens and the Independents.

“The challenge for the business community and industry groups is to demonstrate they are able to work constructively with the Independents and the Greens as well as the major parties,” Mr Verwer said.

“We acknowledge the ‘new paradigm’ as Bob Katter described it. We are now living in a new political dynamic and we need to work with all Parliamentarians effectively.”

“We have always found The Greens accessible, open and thoughtful in our discussions. Of course, we disagree on some issues, but we respect each other’s views.”

Mr Verwer said that although the Property Council does not agree on all issues with the Independents, we do have many of the same priorities:

  • Bob Katter has been an advocate for tackling housing affordability;
  • Tony Windsor called for a population plan in his maiden speech in 2002;
  • Rob Oakeshott recognises the importance of strategic planning and how important
  • the Building the Education Revolution was to the construction sector.

“Reforms to ensure a more effective, transparent and accountable Parliament are welcome – the next step is to build a consensus on policy reforms.”

The big challenges facing Australia were:

  • strategies for revitalising urban and regional cities;
  • delivering a population plan;
  • turbo-charging infrastructure investment;
  • providing incentives for sustainability in the built environment; and
  • recommitting to long-term taxation reform.

The Australian Conservation Foundation

ACF executive director Don Henry said that the independents’ statements of support for “effective action on climate change
and renewable energy, which complement the agreement between the Government and the Greens, provide a solid foundation for progress.

“We particularly welcome the recognition by Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott of the enormous opportunities for regional Australia that come from investing in renewable energy.

“I urge the new government to move quickly to establish the promised climate change committee, because cutting pollution will need a carbon price.

“This committee should be set up in the next 30 days and the timetable for its work should be established to allow for a price on pollution to be legislated in 2011.”

ACF also called on the new government to act quickly on election commitments to:

  • implement a scientifically robust Murray-Darling Basin Plan and continue the program of water buybacks to restore the river system to health
  • establish a network of marine parks based on good science and consultation
  • develop a national green corridors plan to build environmental resilience to climate change
  • make it a legal offence to import timber products that cannot be verified as having been legally harvested
  • incorporate the Indigenous lands of Koongarra, near Nourlangie Rock, into Kakadu National Park to ensure this land can never become a uranium mine
  • develop a sustainable population policy by 2011
  • introduce Sustainability Impact Assessments for Cabinet submissions.

“Australians want this government to invest in our vital life support systems and lead the nation on the transition from a
pollution-dependent economy to a clean economy,” Mr Henry said.

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