AWU pushes for gas exports cap

Labor Party leader Bill Shorten

Labor Party leader Bill Shorten

The Australian Labor Party’s decision not to back a national gas reservation scheme and instead install mechanisms to measure the commodity’s economic benefits, has sparked calls to cap gas exports.

ALP delegates voted against a reservation policy at the weekend’s National Conference held in Melbourne. The party did commit to introducing a Domestic Gas National Interest Test to assess the economic benefits of LNG exports to the Australian community.

Gas exports are pegged to overtake iron ore and fuel Australia’s second resource boom in the coming decade, according to ANZ’s latest forecast.

The ALP on Friday concluded its position on the country’s gas export future, stating that if in government the party would “maintain equitable access to Australia’s abundant gas reserves and receives a fair return on the profits made from extracting our resources, while keeping our resources sector strong and sustainable into the future”.

Reserve Our Gas, an advocacy campaign initiated by the Australian Workers Union to try keep gas stockpiles onshore for domestic use, welcomed Labor’s national interest test measures.

The union said the test would help ensure that LNG exports do not harm employment and household’s cost of living.

The union called for an export “cap” to be placed on gas producers and exporters to “protect the broader national interest”.

“Our reward for allowing multinational gas companies to extract our gas should not be skyrocketing domestic prices and mass job losses from our manufacturing industry. That’s plain wrong,” AWU National Secretary Scott McDine said.

“Yes, we should have an LNG export industry. Yes, we should allow multinational companies to play their part and make healthy profits. But the Australian Government should reserve the right to act if we decide that our precious gas reserves are not actually helping the national interest. That’s just common sense and it is the policy the Labor Party has endorsed today.”

APPEA chief executive Malcolm Roberts commended the ALP for rejecting any future national domestic gas reservation policy, which could hinder exports growth, however expressed concerns over the proposed test.

“Applying a national interest test to gas exports would add significant regulatory burden to gas projects, duplicate existing processes and do nothing to increase domestic supply,” Mr Roberts said.

“The recent collapse in the international oil price is putting all gas development in Australia under pressure. Policies which undermine our global competitiveness and our ability to attract investment will compound this pressure.”

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