Jenny Leong speaks in Parliament on Banning Gas Connections on New Homes, on 2 August 2023:
Ms JENNY LEONG (Newtown) (17:41): I contribute to the public interest debate and acknowledge the contributions by my Greens colleagues: the member for Ballina, who brought the motion to the Chamber, and the member for Balmain. Electrification is the future. By now we all know the harmful effects of gas on the environment and on human health. It is baffling that in 2023, in spite of that knowledge, we have still not moved beyond relying on that toxic fuel, including members in this place, when we should be making sure that everyone's home is safe and healthy. I echo my colleagues' concerns and disappointment that, for all its talk about acting on climate, the New South Wales Labor Government is still refusing to implement a ban on gas connections for new homes.
Thankfully, where this Government is failing to show leadership in the movement away from coal and gas toward an electric future, our communities are stepping up. Just last week I had the pleasure of meeting with the Asian Australians for Climate Action—soon to be the Asian Australians for Climate Solutions—to hear about their grassroots campaign to encourage Asian communities to swap their gas stoves for induction. My colleagues who come from an Asian background will understand that the gas hob is an important cultural item for many of us. We grew up knowing the clang of the wok, the click of the ignition and the sizzle of hot oil meant that a delicious meal was soon to come.
When my own parents remodelled their kitchen, the biggest priority for my dad was finding the largest and hottest gas cooker that he could fit into the kitchen so that the wok would be hot. He regularly talks about the tactics he has for ensuring that he gets the best char kway teow by ordering separate dishes at separate times so the noodles go into the hot wok in a way that tastes best. Thankfully, the love of generations of family recipes—and, indeed, char kway teow—in these meals is not the gas stove. In fact, it is actually the way that it is cooked and the connection to our community and our culture. The Asian Australians for Climate Action are doing everything they can to encourage people like my dad in Asian communities to make the switch to electric, to make sure that we are not engaging with this toxic fossil fuel any longer. It is an important reminder that culture is a living and growing thing, and we evolve with the times. I encourage everybody to check out the TikTok video that the Asian Australians for Climate Action made of cooking a delicious char kway teow on an induction stove.
Beyond this, I want to caution that we are talking about electrification and that, in doing so, we do not overlook the fact that many people simply cannot afford to transition away from gas. Many renters, seniors, public housing tenants and those on limited incomes would struggle to cover the costs of purchasing and installing a new cooktop or heater, let alone paying to have solar panels or batteries installed in their homes. In many cases, because their landlords make those decisions, they are in no position to make the choice for themselves. I give a shout-out to the public housing tenants in Redfern, in the heart of the Newtown electorate, who have worked with our office to start a petition calling on the Government to install solar panels on the roof of all public housing properties in the State. A publicly owned windfarm would help propel us towards a cleaner, greener electric future, as would government subsidies to help low- and middle-income households transition away from gas. The Greens hope to see both of those things on the horizon soon and will keep pushing them on the agenda. I note that the member for Heffron has moved an amendment to the motion. The Greens seek to amend the member 's amendment. I move:
That the amendment of the member for Heffron be amended by inserting at the end "and insert instead: (4) Urges the New South Wales Labor Government to follow the Victorian Labor Premier and move urgently to a future where all new residential properties and government buildings, including schools and hospitals, are powered by electricity."
The Greens believe that it is not okay for the New South Wales Labor Government not to stand strong and follow the lead of the Victorian Premier and the Victorian Government by moving urgently to a transition away from gas. The Greens believe that we absolutely need to get the entirety of the State off coal and gas, but this motion is specifically in relation to new builds. It is clear that the New South Wales Labor Government does not understand the urgency. We need to take the climate crisis seriously in this Chamber, at this time, and move toward a situation where we would see all new residential properties and government buildings, including schools and hospitals, powered by electricity into the future.