Preventing soaring gas prices

A policy that would prevent “skyrocketing” gas prices by reserving some of Australia’s gas for domestic use has the support of most Morwell residents surveyed, according to a recent poll.

The organisers behind ‘Reserve Our Gas’, backed by the Australian Workers Union and Australian Paper, want to ensure Australian’s are not saddled with “distortedly high” gas prices.

The campaign challenges Federal Government’s claim a gas reservation policy would not alter the future of gas prices.

Historically, gas drilled from offshore gas reserves, such as off the Bass Coast, has been used exclusively in Australia.

However, the development of liquid gas technology has meant more Australian gas is being exported overseas.

Unlike every other gas-rich country in the world, Australia does not have a gas reservation policy – which would prevent companies from exporting all of Australia’s gas overseas and charging domestic customers an inflated price.

AMU secretary Scott McDine said the average Victorian household was predicted to pay $300 more for gas per year, so the Reserve Our Gas campaign aimed to lobby the Federal Government to introduce a gas reservation policy to curb this rise.

“The idea that simply throwing open the door to more fracking will drive down prices is nonsense,” Mr McDine said.

“If we really want to stop soaring gas prices from hurting households and destroying manufacturing then we need to do what every other gas exporting nation does and reserve some of our gas for domestic use.”

A poll conducted by ReachTell supports this argument, with 74 per cent of the 600 Morwell residents surveyed in favour of a gas reservation policy over coal seam gas fracking.

It also showed 78 per cent of Morwell residents were concerned about the impact of rising gas prices.

However, it is not just residential consumers who would be hit hard, but employers such as Australian Paper’s Maryvale Mill, which said it could face a $30 million annual increase in its gas bill in 2017.

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said the Federal Government did not believe that a mandatory domestic gas reservation policy would change the outlook for Australia’s domestic gas market.

“A mandatory gas reservation policy would reduce the incentive to explore and develop new gas fields and may create gas shortages followed by rising prices,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Instead, the best way to address issues of supply and pricing is to ensure Australia makes full use of our own gas assets, through exploration and development of new gas fields – including both onshore sources such as CSG and offshore gas.

“Of course, the CSG industry should only proceed in consultation and co-operation with local communities.”

Mr MacFarlane said the government was finalising the Energy White Paper, which would include strategies to make the market more transparent and more competitive.