Thursday, 25 February 2021
I, and also on behalf of Senator Roberts, move:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) Australians own vast reserves of offshore natural gas and the Australian Government manages these vast reserves on behalf of the people of Australia,
(ii) every other country in the world receives higher payments for its gas than Australia,
(iii) the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recently found that Australia is the only large gas producer in the world where the domestic price of gas is higher than the price of exported gas,
(iv) the Western Australian domestic gas reserve policy has been avoided at every opportunity by foreign gas companies,
(v) the Government's inquiry into petroleum resource rent tax legislation in 2017 made 12 recommendations of which none have been implemented, and
(vi) the Government's gas-led recovery strategy is a fiction until the government reforms the gas laws; and
(b) calls on the Government to implement the Callaghan Report recommendations.
In November 2018 the government announced its response to the Callaghan review, which is available on the Treasury website. The government has implemented a majority of the recommendations from the Callaghan review, including reducing the uplift rates that apply to carried forward expenditure. The government has also set up processes to address other recommendations relating to gas transfer pricing for LNG projects. Legislation giving effect to the key changes came into force on 1 July 2019.
The Greens do support this motion but we have a different view of why a gas-fired recovery would be a disaster for this country. Gas companies have sacked 10 per cent of their already small workforce. They've taken our gas resources royalty-free, polluted our atmosphere, have avoided tax but somehow kept up their political donations and shipped the rest of their profits offshore. For the last year of tax data, 28 gas companies operating in Australia generated $55 billion of revenue and did not pay one single cent of tax—$55 billion revenue; zero tax. Australians do not want these guys to be the so-called saviours of Australia's COVID recovery.
The Callaghan review only mildly reins in future gas projects, which the International Energy Agency has said we cannot allow if we want to avoid a climate breakdown. Implementing the recommendations won't touch the tax-avoiding, planet-pilfering, profit-shifting gas projects that are currently in operation. While we support the intent of the motion, even if it were adopted it would not change the exploit-and-loot culture of Australia's gas industry.
Senator Roberts and Senator Hanson have clearly identified the government's failure to deliver affordable gas supply to Australians. Labor has consistently advocated for robust government action to ensure affordable domestic gas supply. Despite its spin, the government has consistently failed to deliver on gas policy, contributing to record prices in recent years. This is typical of the government's chaos and division on energy policy, including 22 policies in just eight years. We won't be supporting this motion today, but the petroleum resource rent tax review made many sensible recommendations and the government should report back on their implementation.