Crisis to hit Victorian gas users if ban stays

Victoria opposition Liberal leader Matthew Guy

Victoria opposition Liberal leader Matthew Guy

Australia’s largest energy users are facing a gas crisis with both sides of politics in Victoria now edging closer to extending the moratorium on onshore gas exploration and production.

Energy Users Association of Australia (EUAA) chair Brian Green has slammed Victoria’s opposition Liberal party after it announced it would support an extension to the existing moratorium on onshore gas.

State Liberal leader Matthew Guy yesterday stated the party would extend the ban to 2020 if elected to office and called on the current Labor government to support the decision.

Mr Guy cited the Victorian Farmers Federation’s (VFF) call for an extension to the moratorium and the Victorian Auditor General’s suggestion that the state has an inadequate regulatory framework to control the gas industry as key reasons for the announcement.

Mr Green, however, said the opposition’s announcement marked a serious “lack of concern” for the future of manufacturing and the jobs it provides.

“Victoria’s energy users have faced rising demand on services, conflicting policy objectives and an emerging gas crisis,” said Mr Green.

“What is needed is for our politicians to take the politics out of energy policy, and show a genuine commitment to energy users from the domestic, commercial and industrial sectors.”

The EUAA chairman called on the Victorian government to instead lift the moratorium and replace it with an approvals process backed by science and robust regulation.

The latest data from the Australian Energy Regulator shows wholesale gas prices have increased 27 and 29 per cent in Victoria and Sydney respectively over the past 12 months. Gas prices in South Australia and Queensland, meanwhile, have increased by 48 and 73 per cent during that period.

Shadow Minister for Energy and Resources and State Member for Caulfield David Southwick said the coalition’s announcement was aimed at providing more time to gather information on unconventional gas exploration and production regulation.

“This decision allows time for the necessary regulatory work and establishment of community benefit frameworks recommended by the Auditor-General to be carried out and findings of the parliamentary inquiry to be fully assessed,” he said.

“It is important for industry to continue to work with key stakeholders and the community to explain the benefits and alleviate any concerns.”

Victorian Minister for Resources and Energy, Lily D’Ambrosio yesterday told Gas Today that the government would be making its decision on the moratorium after the Parliamentary Inquiry into Unconventional Gas concludes later this year.

Enter your details to subscribe to the free fortnightly Gas Today e-newsletter

Thank you for signing up for the Gas Today Online Update.