Australia urgently needs more natural gas supplies.
This has been confirmed by the gas industry, manufacturers, the Federal Government, the Australian Consumer and Competition Council and in the recently published Finkel Review of Australia’s energy needs.
Former Premier Jeff Kennett has added his name to the list – and has taken aim at anti-gas policies implemented in his home State, Victoria.
“We have plenty of gas but state governments, including ours, refuse to allow exploration,” Mr Kennett wrote in Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper. “I think that is criminal,” he said.
Mr Kennett had some strong advice for State and Federal leaders – and a suggested path to break through the current State-Commonwealth disconnect on energy policy.
“Our energy position is a national crisis,” he said. “It requires urgent action.”
Mr Kennett is referring to the situation where consumers, small business and major manufacturers are facing huge power price rises and the risk of gas supply shortages at the same time as governments in Victoria, NSW, NT and Tasmania impose politically-driven moratoria and other blockers to development, including an outright ban in Victoria.
To address the potential gas supply shortfall element, the Commonwealth has taken the unprecedented step of flagging contract intervention to redirect liquid natural gas (LNG) exports from Queensland back into the domestic gas market, a move which raises serious sovereign risk issues.
Mr Kennett was direct in his advice to fix the situation:
“If I were Prime Minister, I would call all the premiers and chief ministers (NT, ACT)to a meeting on energy. I would tell them they have a week to change their positions regarding onshore gas exploration. If they refused I would cut federal funds to those states.
I would use the unallocated funds to support those states that did encourage gas exploration or to reduce government debt”.
This kind of strong leadership was necessary to restore public faith in our leaders, Mr Kennett said.
“I believe the public is fed up with politicians’ inability to show strong leadership. If they can’t lead, they don’t deserve to be re-elected, regardless of their politics.”