29 September 2017

Turnbull government reaches agreement to boost domestic gas supply to Australian households and businesses

I welcome the Turnbull governmen’s announcement that it has reached an agreement with Australia’s three biggest gas producers to ensure enough gas supply in the domestic market in 2018.

Origin Energy, Santos and Shell have agreed to sell 45 extra petajoules into the domestic market in 2018. Gas producers have also agreed to ensure Australians receive the gas they need at competitive prices. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will monitor all sales, offers and any offers declined to ensure customers are receiving the gas at a reasonable price.

When gas shortages first loomed in March, the government set in place export licence controls to be used if companies did not put Australian consumers first. Since then, we have seen more gas made available to the domestic market and prices have begun to fall. Much of the current pressures on gas supply was caused by the previous Labor government which allowed massive gas export contracts to be finalised without adequately protecting Australia’s domestic supply.

Victorians have also been struggling with rising gas and electricity prices as a consequence of Daniel Andrews’ decision to force the closure of Hazelwood power station, his reckless 40 per cent renewable energy target and a complete ban on on-shore gas exploration.
The Victorian Government must reverse its ban on conventional onshore gas exploration providing landowners voluntarily permit such activities on their land. I have strongly opposed fracking or unconventional on-shore gas exploration and this remains the case.

As the Prime Minister said in Parliament on 21 March 2017: “the Labor Party left us with a gas market that was short of gas and the price going through the roof. Why was that? Because Labor governments, especially in Victoria, have been banning exploration. Victoria has lots of gas—lots of conventional gas, in fact, so there is no need for fracking—but a left-wing Labor government will not allow it to be developed or explored.”

The Turnbull government also vowed to get to the bottom of the shortage of gas. The two reports we have received from AEMO and the ACCC revealed that the shortfall of gas in the domestic market will be three times higher than earlier estimates.

Several weeks ago, we struck an agreement with the big electricity retailers which are writing to two million customers to ensure that Australians are getting the best possible deal for their electricity. This means that some households will see their electricity bill fall by more than $1,000 a year.

The Turnbull government is also building Snowy Hydro 2.0, a giant battery in the middle of the electricity market which will power 500,000 homes.

Blackout Bill Shorten and Labor’s policies would drive up the cost of electricity and undermine reliability. Labor plans to tax electricity, which will drive up prices, and introduce a 50 per cent renewable energy target with no regard for the backup and storage needed to keep the lights on. Blackouts and higher prices will be the inevitable consequence of Labor’s energy policies.

Only the Coalition can be trusted to deliver responsible policies to support affordable and reliable energy on which Australians so rely.

28 September 2017