The Australian Workers' Union has today outlined a rigorous and effective policy response to Australia's gas crisis, which is seeing Asian customers paying significantly less for Australia's gas than domestic customers.
A new report, 'Shipping Away Our Competitive Advantage' produced by the AWU's economic team, will be launched today.
A delegation of manufacturing workers, who will meet with parliamentarians on Tuesday and Wednesday to demand action to save Australian jobs, will use the report urge the federal government — and alternate federal government — to shift position. Core policy asks include:
- A mandated 'flexible minimum gas supply requirement' that would require LNG Producers to supply the domestic market adequately before earmarking gas for export.
- A 'use it or lose it' provision that would mean if a gas tenement has been granted to an entity, that entity must invest in capital works that indicate its intention to extract natural gas.
AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton said without a swift and decisive change of policy direction on gas exports, thousands of Australian jobs would be lost.
"The Turnbull Government is an existential threat to the AWU, but it's not through AFP raids – it's through inaction on gas," Mr Walton said.
"On current projections one in five heavy manufacturers will shut as a result of high gas prices. Thousands of Australians working in the manufacturing sector are being forced to consider the prospect of the dole queue because their employers are struggling to afford to power the factories they work in.
"Turnbull's 'handshake' with the gas companies is as dodgy as it sounds, and it isn't delivering a reliable, affordable flow of gas to manufacturers.
"The most frustrating thing about Australia's gas price crisis is that it is entirely self-inflicted and entirely solvable. All we need is a federal government willing to stand up to the multinational gas exporters and tell them that while they can continue to profit from selling Australia's gas to Asia they must reserve some for Australians as well.
"The notion that bringing stacks of extra coal seam gas projects on can save the day, cannot be the answer. Australia is already producing three times the gas we could use at home. And even if you could get community permission for more CSG, it takes years to bring those projects online, and within years we will see thousands of jobs lost.
"There are nervous communities across the nation who will be rightly outraged at the notion that Chinese customers are paying less for Australia's gas than Australians. Your customers shouldn't be paying less for your product than you do."