I simply say to my Western Australian colleagues that this is not about a Commonwealth takeover, there’s no way we would ever develop on land a gas hub without full and proper consultation with the Western Australian Government. Browse is a prime example – if anything, the push for Browse has actually come from the Western Australian Government and we are working with them to facilitate it with proper environmental considerations side-by-side with negotiating successful Indigenous outcomes.
The community’s expectation of the industry following the Montara and Macondo incidents is higher. They expect the Commonwealth to deliver a stronger single national regulator, and I think that is a very important down payment on the right of this industry to continue operating in Australian waters.
On the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax…
The Argus/Ferguson report was presented to the Treasurer on 23 December 2010. There is now a process for a whole-of-government consideration of that report, led by the Treasurer and myself. In due course we will announce our public response and present legislation to Parliament going into the implementation of the Argus/Ferguson report, which is a new tax. It is a different tax proposal to the original proposal of 2 May 2010.
For petroleum, the real issue is the extension onshore of what is a well-established and accepted petroleum resource rent tax regime. That was very much sought by industry, so you’ve got a level playing field onshore and offshore.
On a carbon price…
We’ve announced a premise for discussion out of the multi-party climate change committee. I am very firmly of the view that a price on carbon is going to create a huge growth opportunity for gas. That is really the only viable form of alternative clean energy in Australia at the moment – it’s reliable, and it’s lower emitting.
The other growth industry because of the recent price on carbon is effectively wind. However wind, from my point of view as the national energy minister, is an entirely different proposition because it lacks reliability. Gas is there to be brought forward with a market opportunity coming its way if we resolve the debate on a price on carbon and get certainty for investment decisions. That’s the big ‘if’.