Page 2394 - Week 07 - Thursday, 4 August 2022

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system or your cooktop, cannot burn hydrogen in the way they burn natural gas. So there would have to be a very significant changeover, anyway. That is simply one of the factors, let alone the cost and the inefficiency of the energy conversion, as to why hydrogen will not be distributed in large scale across the city, and why electrification will be the pathway for Canberrans in the future.

MS CLAY: Minister, will this be a sudden transition for the fossil fuel gas industry and for other energy industries?

MR RATTENBURY: No, we have been very clear that this will be a gradual transition. I think it is important that we give the community a clear indication now of where we are headed, so that people can start to make choices and plan for the future. We are already seeing a decline in gas use in the ACT, in the order of two to 2½ per cent a year. That is picking up pace, from the data that I have seen.

Canberrans are already making their choices, and they are making them for a number of reasons. One is because they are committed to reducing their own carbon footprint. But people are also doing it simply from a cost point of view. They understand clearly that new electric devices are more efficient and more cost effective to run. If they are able to remove the gas connection from their swathe of energy bills, that is several hundred dollars a year that they do not have to spend. People are already voting with their feet for a range of reasons, and they will continue to do that.

In making this policy position, we have been very clear that we will start with the legislation I introduced this morning, which will stop making the problem worse—not rolling out further gas infrastructure—and making sure that we do not end up with obsolete investment. We will then work with our businesses and our households here in Canberra to make that transition over the coming decades.

Our advice to households is: you do not need to suddenly pull out your gas devices today. That is not what we are asking you to do. But prepare for the changeover. When you replace your gas hot-water system at the end of its life, or when you go to purchase a new cooktop, choose electric. Go for an electric one, because that is the pathway in the future. It is environmentally friendly, it is better for your bank balance and it is the direction that the government is heading in, on behalf of our city and our community.

MR DAVIS: Minister, how will this transition impact household energy costs and business bottom lines?

MR RATTENBURY: Our advice is that this will produce savings for both households and businesses over time. Of course, people’s energy use and energy profiles are different, but it is clear that, with a like-for-like replacement—a gas-powered house versus the same electric-powered house—we will see significant electricity savings. I know people are concerned about the up-front cost, and that is a factor. That is why the government is putting in place a range of programs to support that. But we should not lose sight of the fact that if your hot-water system reaches the end of its life, and it blows up, you have to buy a new one, anyway, and there is a cost to that.

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