Onshore Gas: Lift the moratorium
Families in Werribee face economic pressure from housing prices – whether paying off a mortgage or renting – exacerbated by ever increasing energy prices.
An ideological approach to energy policy which caters to the Greens obsession with climate change and radical hostility to coal and gas is helping force up energy prices unnecessarily causing financial stress for families, the elderly and the most disadvantaged.
In March 2018 I moved a motion in the Legislative Council, which among other things expressed support for “landholders’ rights to allow gas production on their properties, and a reasonable return for that access and extraction”.
The current moratorium on conventional onshore gas exploration, which is not due to expire until 30 June 2020, is, according to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) adversely affecting the cost of gas to Victorian consumers – both struggling households and businesses.
Onshore gas can be brought into production much more quickly than offshore gas and the capital costs are also significantly lower.
“Victoria maintained its moratorium on all onshore exploration for gas and other regulatory restrictions acted to limit opportunities for new sources of gas to be identified or developed. These short-term factors all contributed to the dire market conditions we described in our September 2017 report, where there was a significant forecast supply shortfall and C&I [commercial and industrial] users were receiving very few offers (and often only one offer) for gas, at extremely high prices”
In a media release dated 3 May 2018 the Chairman of the ACCC, Rod Sims, explained:
“The energy market is working extremely well for energy companies, but is working badly for commercial and industrial [C&I] users. It is the C&I customers who need us to find solutions; the energy companies don’t have as strong an incentive to fix the problem.”
The Chairman singled out the gas market as being of heightened concern to Commercial and Industrial (C&I) users, given the implications for employment, investment and company viability.
“If the gas market was functioning effectively, current price signals would encourage additional investment but the gas shortfall for southern states, moratoria and other regulatory restrictions are impeding the market,” Mr Sims said.
Qenos, which employs hundreds of workers at its Altona plant, some of them from Werribee, has warned that job cuts may be necessary if nothing is done to lower the price of gas.
There are onshore gas resources already identified by Australian company Lakes Oil but no further steps can be taken to access them because of the moratorium.
Minister for Resources Tim Pallas has been praised by Friends of the Earth for maintaining the moratorium that stops these gas resources being developed.
If Labor is returned or the Greens gain the balance of power then Victorians, including struggling households in Werribee and local businesses that employ local workers will thanks to the Pallas-backed moratorium continue to suffer from unnecessarily high gas prices.
As the Independent member for Werribee I would continue to advocate for a common sense approach to gas exploration that is not subservient to Green ideology.
See my Cost of Living Policy for more information