To cap off a day he would rather forget, Labor’s Energy Spokesman Mark Butler has finally admitted Labor knew when in government that the approval of gas export projects would increase power prices. Yet they did nothing.
When asked by David Speers on Sky today about the warnings Labor received when in government, Mark Butler admitted:
“Everyone knew there was going to be an impact on prices.”
Opposition Energy Spokesman Mark Butler, Sky Speers Tonight, 31 August 2017
But when asked the same question by Barrie Cassidy on Insiders on 30 April, Mark Butler said the opposite:
CASSIDY: You were in Government four years ago and you got plenty of advice then that the surge in exports would lead to these sorts of problems. You didn't take this action?
BUTLER: No, we didn't get that advice.
Opposition Energy Spokesman Mark Butler, ABC Insiders, 30 April 2017
But Labor did get that advice. It was made clear in 2012 to Labor, when Bill Shorten and Mark Butler were senior ministers, in both an Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) report and in Labor’s very own Energy White Paper that an increase in gas exports on the east coast would adversely impact supply and power prices:
“there are likely to be short- to medium-term transitional pressures in the eastern market…these transitional pressures will manifest in tighter supply and higher prices.”
Labor’s Energy White Paper 2012, page 134
“The LNG export market is having a significant impact on the domestic market…[and] potential supply shortfalls.”
AEMO, Gas Statement of Opportunities, 2012, page v
Following Labor’s failures in office the Turnbull Government has acted decisively to implement a mechanism allowing the restriction of gas exports, which will ensure there is adequate and affordable gas for Australia’s domestic market. Our households and industry depend on gas as a feedstock and for electricity generation.
Bill Shorten and Mark Butler have a lot to answer for.
They are refusing to put pressure on Labor governments in Victoria and the Northern Territory who are locking up over a hundred years’ worth of domestic gas supply in direct contradiction to a specific recommendation from Chief Scientist Dr Finkel’s report to take a science-based, case-by-case approach to gas approvals.
And now it’s revealed that they knew decisions they took while in government would increase energy prices for Australian households and industry, but did nothing about it. If given another opportunity, it will be Groundhog Day, with Bill Shorten and Mark Butler presiding over higher prices and a less stable energy system.