Australia is exporting too much gas overseas so big companies can profit and not saving enough for use at home, says Victorian energy minister
- Australia is the largest exporter of liquid natural gas in the whole world
- But there is no requirement for companies to keep it onshore except in WA
- Households and businesses in eastern Australia are hit by rising global prices
- Victoria wants a national gas reservation rule to shield Australians from shocks
The Victorian Government is pushing for a national gas reservation rule to shield Australia from high prices in the future as power bills soar.
Global gas prices have shot up in recent months as western nations reject Russian supplies following the nation’s invasion of Ukraine.
Australia is the largest exporter of liquid natural gas in the world but there is no requirement for companies to keep it onshore except in Western Australia.
The Victorian Government is pushing for a national gas reservation rule to shield Australia from high prices in the future as power bills soar. Pictured: Premier Daniel Andrews
This means households and businesses in eastern Australia are hit by rising global prices, with power bills expected to rise by up to 100 per cent in July.
Ahead of a meeting between all state and territory and federal energy ministers on Wednesday, Victoria said it wanted a national reservation scheme.
Western Australia has been shielded from high prices because it requires gas exporters to hold back 15 per cent of their production for domestic use.
Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters outside state parliament on Wednesday that a similar national scheme should be set up.
‘What’s been consistent, certainly from me and our government, is the need for Victorian gas, Australian gas to be for Australian businesses and Australian households first.
‘That’s been my position and I’ve made that position clear to a number of PMs, including the current one.’
Mr Andrews said it was not practical for Victoria to set up its own gas reserve due to the connectivity of the network along Australia’s east coast.
‘It’s not about going it alone,’ he said.
Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said Victoria was a net exporter of gas and it was a ‘myth’ the country was running out.
‘The problem has been that too much of what is produced, certainly to the north of the country, is being exported overseas,’ Ms D’Ambrosio said.
‘NSW has… been very heavily reliant on gas supply. There is a real need for a conversation around how more gas can be released domestically to be pulled into NSW.’
But Resources Minister Madeleine King said it would be complicated to introduce a as reservation rule.
‘It’s difficult to reverse engineer this after the export industry has been established, but that doesn’t mean it’s off the table,’ she said.
‘We want to encourage investment. These plants have been developed because of international investment.’
She said limiting exports would impact allies including Japan and South Korea and cause ‘difficultly filling contracts with international partners’.
Ahead of a meeting between all state and territory and federal energy ministers on Wednesday, Victoria said it wanted a national gas reservation scheme. Pictured: A gas site in Gladstone, Queensland
In 2017, former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull introduced a ‘gas trigger’ to allow exports to be diverted to domestic supply to limit energy price rises.
Mr Andrews said the mechanism, which requires the federal government to ask the Australian Energy Market Operator whether it foresees a domestic supply shortage for the forthcoming calendar year, wasn’t the ‘simplest way home’.
‘At the time there was quite a bit of commentary that that was less than streamlined, but it could be used now and indeed you could go beyond that,’ he said.
‘It just makes no sense to families across our state, and businesses, that we should be making them compete with the rest of the world for something that comes out of our ground.’
Meanwhile, Anthony Albanese has declared he is fine with firing up more coal power despite campaigning on a plan to phase down fossil fuels to fight climate change.
About a quarter of Australia’s coal-fired electricity production is offline due to planned and unplanned outages. Pictured: A power station in Victoria
The Prime Minister blamed the Coalition for Australia’s energy crisis, insisting the former government failed to properly invest in renewables and the electricity grid during its nine years in office.
About a quarter of Australia’s coal-fired electricity production is offline due to planned and unplanned outages, while the east coast shivers through a freezing winter.
With gas supplies dear and energy bills set to skyrocket, Resources Minister Madeleine King on Tuesday called on coal power stations to increase their output as soon as possible.
Speaking in Darwin on his way back from a trip to Indonesia, Mr Albanese denied this move contradicted his lofty climate ambitions.
Asked if he is ‘uncomfortable’ with relying on more coal power, the Prime Minister replied: ‘Not at all’ and later added: ‘Coal is part of our mix right now’.
About 60 per cent of Australia’s electricity comes from coal, 32 per cent from renewables and eight per cent from gas.
Labor wants cheaper renewable sources to supply 82 per cent of electricity by 2030, claiming this will save households $275 a year by 2025, and $378 by 2030.
Mr Albanese admitted that international factors including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were driving up energy prices but said Australia is less able to deal with the shock due to the Coalition’s energy policies.
‘One of the problems that has occurred here is a failure of investment because the former government had 22 energy policies, and didn’t land one,’ he said.
‘You don’t have a grid that’s fit for purpose in the 21st century.’
Labor’s Rewiring the Nation plan will bring forward $20billion worth of grid upgrades identified by the Australian Energy Market Operator.
Mr Albanese wants renewables to supply 82 per cent of electricity by 2030. Pictured: Williamdale Solar Farm, 35km south of Canberra