Wednesday, 30 March 2022
Questions without Notice
Climate Change: Gas Industry
My question is to the minister representing the minister for industry, science, energy and resources. How do you justify pouring millions in public money into polluting offshore gas when we're in a climate emergency?
Government senators interjecting—
I am the minister representing lower emissions. They have reduced 20 per cent, and we're very proud of that as a nation. There are a lot of countries that talk a big game with regard to lowering emissions but don't actually deliver, but on this side of the parliament we focus on delivery and outcomes, not platitudes. We're focused on delivering affordable, reliable energy to support the economy and new jobs, and Australia's competitive advantage has always been based on cheap energy and gas. It will be central to our ongoing economic recovery.
On this side, we understand that gas is a critical enabler of our economy and employs so many working-class Australians. For the past decade, the manufacturing sector has depended on gas as its largest source of energy. Gas makes up 42 per cent of manufacturing's total energy use, according to the latest Australian energy statistics. That is why our gas fired recovery is so critical. It is a cornerstone in strengthening Australia's sovereign capabilities. You only need to look at what's happening to gas prices in Europe to see the devastation that can occur in the economy: prices are rising more than 300 per cent. As a result of industry and government working together, we've been able to avoid these international price hikes, with our prices being around 78 per cent lower than prices in Europe, which were trading at over $47 per gigajoule in mid-March.
We're taking action to boost the east coast gas market across the entire supply chain. Through the budget, we're backing seven priority projects, as well as key carbon capture and storage pipelines, with a $50.3 million investment. Our investment will get local gas where it's needed to help keep the lights on and homes heated in southern Australia. In our home state of Victoria, Senator Thorpe, it does get quite hold. Having homes heated during winter is important. (Time expired)
I've just outlined why it is important to back a gas led recovery post-COVID. It's not just for local jobs out in the regions and in our industrial sections of our capital cities so that working Australians can earn a good wage in high-paying, long-term careers. It is also important that we have a gas led recovery to ensure that individual Australians and working families can heat their homes at an affordable cost.
I tried to outline to you, Senator Thorpe, what the impact can be of not investing in fuel sources such as gas, and you are seeing the implications of that in Europe right now. And you know what? It is not the people who vote for the Greens that are actually affected by these types of things. It is not the inner-city elites, on their very high wages, that actually have to worry about their housing and heating costs— (Time expired)
We are very lucky in this country that both state and federal governments, over a long period of time, have taken very seriously the need to have the right regulatory framework around the development of, in particular, gas-fired projects.
At both state and federal levels there are quite strict regulatory controls on a whole range of approvals that must be sought in terms of building these types of projects, but I absolutely—
Yes, I would because I proudly back the resources industry in Australia, including the gas industry, and the tens of thousands of Australians that they employ: hardworking men and women across the length and breadth of this country. We do not take a backward step—
Yes, I wish to continue. Without the action that our government is taking to address supply, industry and households would be faced with higher prices, disruptions in supply and planned outages. And it is low-income Australians that are going to be most affected. (Time expired)