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Public Interest Debate - Gas Industry

Even that one. Indeed, the public interest case for fully electric homes and buildings, meaning no connection to methane gas, is very compelling. Fully electric homes are cheaper to run, are healthier for families and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I welcomed the announcement from the Victorian Labor Government last week to accelerate a shift to fully electric homes and public buildings. That follows a similar announcement from the Australian Capital Territory Government last year.

I am in good company in welcoming that show of leadership from the Victorian Government. The Property Council of Australia, the Master Builders Association of Victoria, the Royal College of General Practitioners and many climate and energy advocacy organisations have all applauded the Victorian Government's decision. The New South Wales Government should take heart from this broad support and also act decisively to require new homes and buildings to be fully electric as part of a broader vision to electrify everything.

The reality is that getting off gas is a powerful measure to reduce cost-of-living pressures. The Climate Council's 2022 reportSwitch and save: how gas is costing households found that homeowners in Australia's capitals could save between $500 and $1,900 every year on their bills by replacing gas heating, cooking and hot water appliances with electric alternatives. If that electricity was sourced from solar panels on their roof, the savings would be multiple times more. That is a plug for my plan for interest-free loans on solar.

With the cost-of-living crisis at the forefront of our minds right now, getting off gas is a smart way that the Government can help people save money. Not only is gas expensive, but the evidence is also mounting to show that burning methane gas indoors is dangerous for human health. Australian research published in theMedical Journal of Australia in 2018 estimated that, across the community, 12 per cent of childhood asthma is attributable to the use of gas cooking stoves. Gas burning in homes is an avoidable health risk. From a public health perspective alone, we must move quickly to address that risk.

The statement from the Premier in response to the Victorian announcement, making it clear that New South Wales will not be following suit, is disappointing. I note, however, that NSW Labor made a commitment to stakeholders before the election to deliver a gas roadmap to give clarity to industry and households on gas decarbonisation. I want to see that plan developed quickly and I want it to represent a serious effort from the Government to move away from gas. I am ready, willing and able to help make that a priority for the Government.

On this theme, tomorrow from 1.00 p.m. at the level 9 Parliament rooftop garden I am co‑hosting an event with the Speaker called "Cooking without gas: new opportunities in electrifying NSW". I encourage all members to RSVP for some beautiful food prepared on an electric barbecue and to hear from a panel of experts, including Kate Minter from Rewiring Australia. Full electrification of buildings, including phasing out methane gas, has so many benefits. Taking away the gas, a pollutant, from inside homes is good for people's health. It is cheaper for households. When paired with rooftop solar it is disinflationary, as households are liberated from volatile gas bills. It reduces gas demand, weakening the business case for opening up the State's prime agricultural land on the Liverpool Plains to coal seam gas mining. And, best of all, it cuts greenhouse gas emissions, helping to limit dangerous climate change, which threatens our very way of life.

The New South Wales Government should act to deliver those benefits for the people of New South Wales instead of piping in infrastructure that at best will be redundant very soon and at worst will lock in the use of expensive, polluting methane gas for many years or decades to come that otherwise could have been avoided. Let this House take a multi‑partisan position. Let us give a clear signal to the market that this is where we are heading and that our State is ready for the rapid transition to an electric future. It is time to wake up, New South Wales. Let us get on with it.

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