Senate debates

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Questions without Notice


2:33 pm

Photo of Matthew CanavanMatthew Canavan (Queensland, Liberal National Party, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia) Share this | Hansard source

I thank Senator O'Sullivan for his question. It goes to an issue that affects many of the regional businesses—manufacturing businesses in particular—in the senator's state. Today, we have taken significant action as a government to introduce gas export licences in Australia. This is significant action from the government, but it is action in response to a significant problem. I am sure many in this place have heard of the shortages of gas that are afflicting our manufacturing sector and also causing difficulties in energy markets and pushing up electricity prices. I myself have met many of them. Senator McKenzie took me to north-east Victoria recently where companies like Uncle Tobys, with 550 workers, are struggling. I went to Shepparton after that where Pactum Dairy also have pressures in terms of supplies of gas. AKD timber in Colac with 330 people are facing pressures for gas, and big businesses like Incitec Pivot and BlueScope Steel, with thousands of jobs at risk, also need adequate supplies of gas.

We as a government are focused on making sure that our manufacturing sector has the gas it needs to protect these jobs. We made mistakes. When the Labor government was in charge, no-one did an assessment on whether or not the expansion of LNG exports on the east coast of Australia was going to compromise our domestic energy security. We are living with the legacy of that, but we as a government are focused now on finding solutions and making sure we take the actions necessary to rectify those matters. We will do so by introducing this licensing system which will allow the Commonwealth government to ensure there is sufficient gas in Australia to serve our needs. It is unsustainable to have a situation where we are going to become the world's largest exporter of gas but have some of the highest prices in the world. That is not sustainable for our gas industry. It is certainly not sustainable for our manufacturing sector. That is why the government is acting to rectify the problem.


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