Barr ‘backflips’ on ‘crazy’ gas proposal

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Chief Minister Andrew Barr.

CHIEF Minister Andrew Barr has changed his opposing view on the ACT Greens’ pre-election proposal to phase out natural gas by 2040. 

It was a proposal that Mr Barr labelled as “crazy” in September, a month before six Greens members were voted into the ACT Legislative Assembly, three of which have now taken up ministerial positions in the Labor/Greens government.

Despite Mr Barr’s opposing views at the time, “we are not going to be gas-shaming people”, he had said, Housing Minister Yvette Berry yesterday (April 7) announced no new suburbs in Canberra will be connected to gas.

The initiative will start with the next stage of a development in Whitlam that will see the the Suburban Land Agency work towards not including previously proposed gas connections.

Opposition leader Elizabeth Lee said the issue reveals Labor were either deliberately deceptive or that they’re now being run completely by the Greens, calling the announcement a “broken promise”.

But Mr Barr defended the decision, saying the Canberra Liberals are wrong.

“Gas is not being turned off or disconnected. The decision in Whitlam, and other new suburbs, is to not install gas in the first place,” said Mr Barr.

“New suburbs will be all electric from the start.”

An ACT government spokesperson said government’s commitment to phasing out gas in new suburbs was well-established in the last term of government and was reaffirmed in the Parliamentary Agreement at the start of this term.

“The target of net zero emissions in the ACT by 2045 was already in place before the ACT election and this move towards phasing out of gas in new developments is part of that commitment,” said the spokesperson.

Ms Lee, however, remained concerned, highlighting news yesterday of increased electricity prices in the ACT throughout the 2021-22 financial year as a result of the government’s 100 per cent renewable energy target.

“Labor must fully explain why the plan that Mr Barr described as crazy, that would cost families more, has now been fully embraced just months on,” said Ms Lee.

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