Questions without notice – Fuel

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Mr O’DOWD: My question is to the Minister of Resources and Water. Will the Minister outline to the House how the Morrison-Joyce government is ensuring a secure supply of affordable gas supplies for Australian manufacturers while assisting our friends and allies to meet their energy needs? Is the Minister aware of any alternative policies?

Mr PITT: I thank the member for Flynn for his question and congratulate him on his valedictory speech last week—another outstanding contribution. The member for Flynn understands how important it is that we maintain a pipeline of projects for gas and other resource projects. He has the big exporters at Gladstone out of the Gladstone port and at a time of great instability around the world. Mr Speaker, you only have to look at the situation in Ukraine to understand how important it is to this nation’s security and our economic security that we maintain this pipeline and continue to deliver gas, not only for our domestic needs but right around the world.

We’ve seen a report overnight from the ACCC around pricing. The instability that we are seeing has seen very large increases for the gas price, in particular, in places like Europe and Asia. In fact, those prices are between $30 and $40 a gigajoule right now. In this country the ACCC reports that offers have been under the $10 mark and around $10 in recent times, and that is a significant differential with the world price. It’s important that we continue to maintain that supply. It’s important that we continue to ensure that it is affordable and reliable for Australia’s manufacturers for Australia’s domestic use. Without it we can’t produce urea, we can’t heat our homes and we can’t produce electricity at affordable prices, so we’ll continue to do that. Those prices have been maintained because the policies of this government have ensured that it happens—whether it’s the implementation of the Australian Domestic Gas Security Mechanism, which allows me, as the Minister for Resources, to direct more gas into the domestic market; or whether it’s the heads of agreement that we’ve signed with the big exporters out of Gladstone on the east coast. They are meeting the terms of that; they have to put forward any uncontracted supply for use in the domestic market first.

What is very clear is that it is working. We are ensuring prices are staying down. We are ensuring reliability of supply is there. That gives confidence to investors into this country. That is why they’re coming here to look for more opportunities, like the Beetaloo basin and others. We’ll continue to work on gas production in this country. It’s why we have a gas-led recovery. It’s why we put forward strategic basin plans like the Beetaloo, the Adavale, the Cooper, the Bowen and the Galilee. We need to make sure supply is continued into the future; without it, there will be a shortfall. I say to states like Victoria, which has a moratorium on unconventional gas, that this is the reason you will have challenges in the near term. If you don’t produce enough gas locally, you will need to look to the north and look to Queensland and others for that supply. It simply can’t be provided at the price at which you can get it out of Bass Strait.

I’m asked about alternatives. The alternatives are pretty straightforward. We’ve heard what the Greens’ alternative is: there will be no more projects. In fact, they’ve doubled down and said that, under an alliance with the Labor Party in government, they would even get rid of the projects that have been approved. That is the statement, that is what they’ve put into this place as an actual proposal.

We’ll stand with the resources sector. We’ll ensure the security of this country. We’ll ensure Australia’s economy and jobs into the future.

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