Gathering friends and family together for a barbecue is a quintessential Australian tradition, so it would be a brave politician who campaigns to ban the practice.
Yet that’s exactly what shadow treasurer Angus Taylor claims the assistant minister for health and aged care Ged Kearney has been up to.
Questioned by Sky News journalist Laura Jayes in an interview on June 6 about whether he takes responsibility for the current gas crisis, Mr Taylor turned the focus on the new Labor government.
Mr Taylor claimed that Labor was so hostile to gas that one member of the party was campaigning to outlaw barbecues.
“We have members … senior members of the Labor Party wanting to ban the barbecue before the election,” he said.
“That’s a new one,” Ms Jayes responded. “Who wanted to ban the barbecue, Angus Taylor?”
“Well, Ged Kearney was getting around her electorate handing out flyers wanting to ban the barbecue,” he replied.
The former energy minister also made the claim during the election campaign in a March 23 interview with Steve Price on Triple M radio: “… We’ve got Ged Kearney handing out flyers wanting to ban the barbecue. Ban the barbecue, Steve, because barbecues use gas.”
When asked for a source of the claim, a spokeswoman for Mr Taylor’s office told AAP FactCheck that Ms Kearney “has associated herself with a number of publications calling for the banning of gas connections”.
In particular, the spokeswoman directed AAP FactCheck to Ms Kearney’s public praise of a climate report by environmentalist group Friends of the Earth (FOTE).
FOTE’s People’s Climate Strategy for Victoria report included the results of a public survey on ideas for climate solutions, which featured suggestions ranging from revegetating land to subsidising water tanks.
Among the 75 suggestions from the public include measures to ban gas connections to new homes, and to offer financial incentives to transition households to electrical appliances.
Ms Kearney praised the report on multiple occasions, including in a 2021 Facebook post in which she said the report “details the impacts of climate change and the policy solutions we could implement today”. She also raised the report in the House of Representatives in June 2021.
But Ms Kearney has not singled out any specific measures she supports, and none of the public proposals suggest banning barbecues – only gas connections to new homes. The word barbecue does not feature on any of the report’s 68 pages.
Mr Taylor’s office also said a pamphlet produced in March 2021 by the Climate & Environment Reference Group, set up by Ms Kearney, was also evidence.
AAP FactCheck asked Mr Taylor’s office if there was any other evidence to support the claim but did not receive a response.
Paul Giles, an associate director at industry research firm BIS Oxford Economics, which produces the Australian Barbecue Forecast, told AAP FactCheck that around 13 per cent of barbecues require a gas mains connection.
Most barbecues sold in Australia either use portable gas or propane canisters, charcoal, or electric grills, he said.
“While gas barbecues are strongly preferred across Australia their domination has declined slightly over the past five years or so as the quality of electric barbecues and solid fuel barbecues has increased,” Mr Giles said in an email.
“The increased interest in cooking (especially through COVID cooking at home) has also attracted consumers to solid fuel and smokers with the charcoal or wood flavours encouraging more experimentation.”
Associate Professor Donna Green, a climate and energy policy expert at UNSW, told AAP FactCheck via email that the push to electrify households does not threaten the future of the barbecue.
She said fully electrifying Australian homes would “be the smartest thing we could do,” adding “it saves us money, it saves us emissions – and prepares all Australians for the inevitable transition to a zero emissions future.”
Ms Kearney told AAP FactCheck that she has not campaigned for and does not support any ban on barbecues.
The claim that Ged Kearney campaigned to ban the barbecue is false. The evidence provided by Mr Taylor’s office to support his assertion consists of Ms Kearney’s praise of a report that included a suggestion to ban gas connections to new homes and the distribution of a flyer which spruiked the advantages of switching from gas to electricity.
False – The claim is inaccurate.
* Editor’s note: AAP FactCheck has expanded its ability to fact-check environmental issues with the support of the Australian Conservation Foundation. AAP FactCheck retains full editorial independence in this project and continues to apply the rigorous standards required for accredited members of the International Fact-Checking Network.