On CEFC in fightback, NSW’s legislative vandalism and the Sisyphus problem

28 November 2013 — This week saw the Clean Energy Finance Corporation in fightback mode announcing to the world it was making money for the federal government and to axe it would cost the feds $1.5 billion, a far cry from the big savings projected by whoever was doing the maths at the time.

You read it here first, remember, in two articles last week that proved CEFC has already mapped out the best way for Direct Action to work.

See our articles:

The trick is that the CEFC lends money, and then gets it repaid with interest. It’s how our financial markets work. You’d think the feds would have some interest in keeping this kind of business. No matter how new to the game they are.

Now if the feds ignore logic and rational economic behaviour because of hubris – that is they want their own stamp on their own model, even though they have no idea how it will work in real life and have asked the business and industry to think of something – then get ready for a long wait. The estimates are it could take to 2015 to do so.

These things take a long time.

There are supporters of Direct Action, we know. But there are also members of the broad coalition of built environment interest groups that think Direct Action is a waste of time. Mainly because, it will be boomtime for the energy retrofit consultants, and will favour the big end of town.

There’s also the fear among some that the scheme will be administered by government, which means it runs the risk of falling into the same heap that beset the home insulation scheme.

These guys and gals in government are policy wonks. They should stick to their knitting – that is designing the future of this country (because it needs all the help it can get) and let other people do the operational stuff.

Oh dear, the lessons we are destined to repeat. Makes you think the eternal recurrence cobbled up by Nietzsche, or of Sisyphus and the reincarnation believers had something to say after all.

It’s a big, big country… or will be soon

So we’re going to be a big big country after all. Whether we like it or not.

Forget the poor idealists (a tad selfish if you think about it) who want to keep Australia small.

It ain’t gonna happen. The stats say that both our biggest cities are heading for 8.5 million within 50 years.

Still, those numbers small by comparison with some international standards, but you get the drift.

Switch now Sydney. It’s been busy – very busy – drafting some planning reforms that would usher in the new age of bigger population. The Better Planning Network thinks it’s more like a bulldozer, and was probably behind the 5000 or so submissions the state government received. Which is pretty well unprecedented we’ll bet.

Right now, the much lauded planning reforms are absolutely nowhere. No-one is happy. Not the BPN, not the NSW Urban Task Force or their fellow developer lobby at the Urban Development Institute of Australia. Not the Planning Minster Brad Hazzard who said Labor, the Greens and the Fishers and Shooters Party had formed an “unholy alliance” to scrap trash the bill.

He said worse: it was “legislative vandalism”, he said.

See Cameron Jewell’s story here

The real revolution: started by LJ Hooker

Another great story from Cameron this week has been on the “quiet revolution” that LJ Hooker has been undertaking with its training for agents on how to understand green and sustainable housing so they can better sell it. Part of this program is its Liveability website, which takes the customers through their own learning experience.

The great news is that at one of the training sessions, Cecille Weldon, head of sustainability for the company, who is running these programs, was a bit baffled by the number of questions coming from the agents. What was going on? The session was threatening to run well overtime, and yet the questions kept coming.

Weldon soon worked out the agents were not inquiring on behalf of their business; it was their own homes they wanted to understand.

Chiara Pacifici in Perth is striking the same kind of fertile ground through her Green Gurus.

This is an idea that put in the hands of the people who seem to have all the power – agents – is quite capable of igniting the residential revolution.

Let’s think about it: you have a nice little house but thinking to do some upgrade work. Who do you ask about what’s the best way to go?

Quite often it’s the real estate agent who will come in to advise on whether you should build a new bathroom or add two bedrooms.

They will even quite happily tell you what colour to paint the walls.

It’s all in the name of “meeting the market”. No-one wants to overcapitalise and no-one wants to be caught out with a timber benchtop when granite is all the rage.

But if the agent tells you to add a solar unit because the granite kitchen will age but the solar unit will bring in money or savings for years to come, then it’s a game changer.

Imagine if they also start to understand orientation or insulation and sell the house on those features.

Perth and WA

Meanwhile Lynne Blundell has been writing War and Peace for our next ebook. Well almost. It’s our upcoming ebook on Perth and WA, which will be headed with the Sustainability Salon.

So now that the words are in we’re into the design phase. So watch for our wonderful new ebook soon.


We’re also finding the webinars on energy efficiency exciting. It must be the mix of the live audience and the ability to get feedback as you go.

Webinar 3, our final, will be on Wednesday at 12 noon.

After that comes yet another ebook to wrap up the key messages and provide an informative take home resources. Downloadable free, like all our material.