Sydney Today, April 4, Australian Eastern Time The government’s environmental letter of trust is becoming increasingly controversial. Governor Ted Baillieu has abruptly cancelled a proposal that new houses in Victoria do not need to be subject to mandatory energy efficiency ratings.

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A few hours after The Times published the proposal of Treasury Secretary Kim Wells to adopt a voluntary principle for the evaluation of the 6-star thermal efficiency standard, Governor Baillieu solemnly announced that the current system would be retained. He stated at a media conference in the afternoon: "The 6-star rating policy will continue."

Some high-level government data did not seem to be taken seriously in Baillieu's statement, and he continued to tell reporters and other personnel that the future 6-star standard has not yet been decided. The reason why Baillieu retreated so quickly is currently unclear. However, yesterday's disclosure by The Times triggered heated discussions. Some industrial groups, especially those affected companies and experts, immediately criticized the proposed changes.

The Association of Building Sustainability Assessors believes that the practice of changing the six-star rating is absurd. Chief Operating Officer Rodger Hills said: "Six stars are not a'green standard', but they can protect consumers from the inefficiency of house heating and cooling and the costs it brings."

Wells' proposal to turn the 6-star mandatory standard into a voluntary principle was submitted to Planning Minister Matthew Guy by letter last month. He wrote that his request reflects market competition and the production capacity of the Cabinet Committee (including Baillieu), and requires a 25% reduction in cumbersome procedures.

Baillieu defended Wells' claim that taxpayers and business reduce costs, saying that "the Treasurer has been challenged by various departments because he has to check the legislation and regulations of all departments to see how we can reduce some of the regulations." No further explanation was given for his retreat.

The move to oppose the 6-star standard and the United Power Department’s support for the implementation of this standard for newly built houses contradict the promise of a 5-star upgrade to existing houses. This rating system sets energy efficiency requirements for all new houses and major renovations including roofs, floors, walls and windows. There are also regulations for lighting facilities in Victoria. All states and regions have signed this agreement.

The plan to ditch the 6-star standard has received strong responses from various groups including the construction, energy and welfare sectors. (Ivy)

Original: http://smh.domain.com.au/green/baillieus-aboutface-on-housing-energy-ratings-20120417-1x4kn.html