The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC’s) July 2022 interim report on its gas inquiry confirms the east coast energy crisis is likely to last beyond the winter of 2023.
A forecast 70 per cent increase in gas demand for electricity generation (forecast to increase by 52 petajoules (PJ) to 126 PJ in 2023) and sustained, high international gas prices means that both electricity and gas prices on the east coast of Australia are likely to remain elevated for at least the next 12 months.
While no one is blaming the Albanese Labor Government for a surge in international gas prices, it is the Government’s responsibility to come up with a plan to address this crisis.
The best the resources minister Madeleine King could muster today was a discussion paper and a promise to set in motion the process of triggering the Australian Domestic Gas Security Mechanism (ADGSM).
Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy Ted O’Brien MP said the energy minister Chris Bowen is in hiding and doesn’t support bringing on new gas supply because it will jeopardise his chances of a deal with the Greens on his climate legislation.
“This report shows the energy crisis is here to stay and this Labor government is unwilling or unable to make the tough decisions needed to decisively address it,” Ted O’Brien said.
“That’s why the Prime Minister has abandoned Labor’s election promise to cut household power bills by $275 by 2025.
“The best long-term fix to disconnect domestic gas prices from high global prices is more supply.”
“The report also forecasts a reduction in demand from Australian manufacturers. This could be the beginning of a jobs crisis in the manufacturing sector.”
Shadow Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Senator Susan McDonald said the Coalition had a plan in government to unlock new supply to keep prices low and the lights on.
“The Coalition’s Strategic Basin Plans and National Gas Infrastructure Plan were backed by more than $300 million of funding,” Senator McDonald said.
“The resources minister Madeleine King’s hands are tied behind her back. She knows the answer is more supply but she’s not supported by her Cabinet colleagues. The Labor Government must put aside their politics and support projects like the Beetaloo Strategic Basin Plan introduced by the Coalition.
“Short-sighted bans on developing unconventional onshore gas are coming home to roost. The Labor Government should be doing everything in its power to encourage rather than undermine new gas development.
“Yet Labor appears hell bent on halting development and reducing supply to pander to the Greens by undermining investment vehicles like the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) from supporting new gas supply projects.
In opposition, the now energy minister Chris Bowen labelled the Coalition’s plan to unlock new gas supply “BS” and “a fraud”.
Asked today whether she supported a ban on new coal and gas projects in the federal environmental approvals process, the resources minister Madeleine King could only say “I’m not going to state a view.”
While the Albanese Labor Government dithers, businesses are going to the wall and households are choosing between heating and eating.