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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

Change the Globe initiative; compact fluorescent light globes; whaling

Doorstop interview, Beacon Lighting, Belrose
24 March 2009

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GARRETT: Thank very much everybody for coming into the Beacon Lighting store here in Belrose and thank you to Ian and Glen Robinson for hosting my visit here. This is the first store which will have the Change the Globe point of sale material to provide directions and information for consumers on the best kind of lighting that they can get into their homes when they come in for lighting purchases. And clearly, as this Government is now accelerating the phase out of inefficient light globes - that's the old pear shape, incandescent globes - we will see a significant uptake in energy efficiency lighting through increased purchasing of CFL - compact fluoro globes - and other forms of energy efficient lighting.

In the countdown to Earth Hour, when millions of Australians and thousands of businesses will switch off their lights, save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, now is the best time for Australians to change over; to make the switch to energy efficiency lighting. And having this point of sale material, which I have here - the light globe conversion guide, Change the Globe-what's in it for me - fantastic point of sale material, gives Australian consumers the absolutely necessary and clear pathway to making purchases for energy efficiency lighting which will save them considerable amounts of money in terms of energy costs in the pocket, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the longer term and is consistent with our desire to see us move to an energy efficiency future where the kind of lighting and the kind of appliances that people have in their homes have got energy efficiency built-in to them, thus reducing energy costs, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

This is consistent with the Government's overall policies on energy efficiency. We have had a commitment now through the Energy Efficient Homes Plan to roll out to some 2.7 million households, one of the largest - the largest - energy efficiency rollout that we have seen in our country's history. Insulation and solar hot water rollouts - a rebate of $1600 for ceiling insulation and solar hot water which is non means tested -and I can report to you today that we are seeing very strong enthusiasm from the Australian public with some 2000 applications already for Energy Efficient Homes Plan and some 40,000 inquiries to the hotline. This will be one of the most significant roll-outs of energy efficiency that we will see at any time in our history. We have a strong commitment to continuing the energy efficiency reform program through COAG and, as you know, we're accelerating and strengthening the labelling for other whitegoods and the like and all of this as we head into Earth Hour -a great opportunity for Australians to Change the Globe, to reduce their energy bills, to make those significant savings and also reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

So, I want to encourage Australians today to Change the Globe before Earth Hour and also, on Earth Hour as well, get those lights off and show very clearly what we can do when we think about the impact that we are having on the environment.

JOURNALIST: How successful will 2009 Earth Hour be?

GARRETT: Well I reckon it has the possibility of being more successful than 2008. We had a 97 per cent participation by government offices and agencies in Earth Hour last year. We're aiming to improve that this year. The lights on the Harbour Bridge will be off, the lights at Parliament House in Canberra will be off and many, many other lights around the country will be off as well. And you know, it is a strong symbol of our increasing awareness of the need to think carefully about the way we use energy and as we see this campaign build momentum with more cities, more countries, more people and more businesses joining, I think it becomes a transforming event for people. It helps us focus our minds on the task ahead.

JOURNALIST: Minister, can you just outline the phase out timeline. What happened in February and what's happening in November?

GARRETT: We said we would phase out imports and that process is underway for phase out but as of November 2009 there will be no sale of inefficient incandescent lights - the pear shaped lights - in Australia. We now know, and you can see it in this store, that there is a wide choice of energy efficient lighting available to consumers. Not only CFLs but also LEDs which are coming online and speaking earlier to the Robinsons here at this store at Beacon Lighting we can see that there are many other choices coming online as technologies improve.

JOURNALIST: How important is it to outline what options are out there for people, because I suppose that a lot of people aren't aware of the options?

GARRETT: Look, I think that this Change the Globe campaign will provide people with much needed information about the best kind of consumer choices they can make to save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and have energy efficient lighting in their households. We do know that people are hungry for information and I am pleased to say that we have a single Government portal website in preparation and under development. My expectation is that we will be able to deliver a clear, accessible, one location website for people to get information about the best kinds of choices they can make not only in terms of their lighting but other household appliances. And remember last year I also launched the publication 'Your Home' - a publication that is available on the website as well - that indicates to consumers the kinds of choices that you can make around your home when your renovating, when you're upgrading or updating or when your replacing existing appliances and existing technologies so that you have got the best energy efficiency and cost effective appliances in your home for the future.

JOURNALIST: In terms of savings, what are we looking at once the incandescent bulbs have been phased out both for households pockets and also for the environment in terms of emissions? GARRETT: You're looking at about an 80 per cent saving for people in terms of their energy bills in lighting. How incredible - for Australians about $900 million saving for us as Australians in our lighting purchases. And in terms of greenhouse gas emissions about 4 million tonnes, per year, each year running up to 2015 - significant dollar savings, significant greenhouse gas reductions.

JOURNALIST: The shadow environment minister, Greg Hunt, has said that the Federal Government hasn't kept up its election promise to take Japan to the International Court of Justice on the whaling issue. What is your response to that?

GARRETT: The Opposition specialise in carping and don't understand that for the ten years that they had carriage of this issue we saw a doubling of the targeted quota for taking whales in the Southern Ocean. And on the very same day as Mr Hunt continues his sidelines criticism we had a number of nations joining Australia in the workshop for the Southern Ocean Research Partnership -the largest ever international research effort looking at non-lethal whale research programs and research programs in the Southern Ocean.

So there I was at the National Maritime Museum in Sydney with people from Latin America, from Europe, from South Africa, the United States and New Zealand, all strongly supporting Australia's drive, not only to reform the IWC and make it a conservation focused organisation, but also to get stuck into collaborative, cooperative non-lethal research into cetaceans and whales in the Southern Ocean. I mean we're getting on with the job of addressing the key issues that are absolutely critical in this debate and all the Opposition can do on a day like that is criticise. You know, I'll leave it said there.

JOURNALIST: Back to the globes for a second. There were concerns that the compact fluorescent globes contain mercury and over time they'll create a problem with leeching this into the environment with landfills. Do you imagine down that track that this will be an issue?

GARRETT: Look it is the case that they do produce very small amounts of mercury. The standard that will apply will be a 5 milligram per lamp standard which is, I think, an acceptable standard. But over time, as we see more volumes coming into the market place, we will have to look carefully at what additional measures in terms of safe and adequate disposal of those volumes would be. At the moment, they can be recycled; they can be safely disposed of into landfill. It is a matter for the state governments in terms of their regulation. But as you know we're leading now through the environment ministers at a state level, the development of a national waste policy and I imagine that we will have a look at what the likelihood is of increased volumes of these new sorts of globes going into the system into the future.

JOURNALIST: So a recycling scheme for these globes and other things may be a priority down the track?

GARRETT: Well I think it is something which we'll have to have a think about. There is no doubt that as we see increasing volumes of these kinds of globes coming into the system, existing recycling and potentially other forms of recycling would have to be looked at.

JOURNALIST: Do you think that the benefits to the environment from their implementation would outweigh perhaps any negative impacts that they have on the environment?

GARRETT: Well, the fact is that using energy efficient light globes saves considerable amounts of energy and reduces the amount of greenhouse gas pollution and in fact the amount of mercury that is produced by coal-fired power stations that produce that energy. The amount is very small - probably fit on your ball point pen. It can be safely disposed of. So to that extent there is no question that our view is that they are not only absolutely the right kind of technology in terms of reducing emissions and also saving energy in the long-term but the issues of properly disposing of the small, small amounts of mercury is something that can be adequately managed.

Okay, thanks very much everybody.


Commonwealth of Australia