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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 40816

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Photo of Turnbull, Malcolm

Turnbull, Malcolm

Period of Service: 15/09/2015 to 24/08/2018

More information about Turnbull, Malcolm on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 15/03/2017

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 40816

Subject(s): Gas meeting; South Australian energy

Location: Parliament House, Canberra

PRIME MINISTER: 

Good morning. Today I’m taking national leadership to resolve this gas crisis. 

Australians are entitled to expect they will have access to the gas they need and at prices they can afford, whether it's for their homes or in their businesses. Thousands of jobs depend on secure, reliable and affordable gas. 

It is not acceptable for Australia shortly to become the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, to not have enough gas for its own families and its own businesses. 

So we’re seeking action today at the meeting. We're determined to resolve this gas crisis. It's been created by policies of state governments that have locked up gas resources over the years, despite many warnings but the time has come for action and for a solution. That's what I'm determined to deliver.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, can you mandate a certain amount to be kept domestically, rather than exported?

PRIME MINISTER: 

The Commonwealth Government has considerable power with respect to any exports of any items, including gas, of course. But what I'm seeking to do is to ensure we have action from the gas companies. I can say that the gas companies, I have no doubt, are very well aware that they operate with the benefit of a social licence from the Australian people and they cannot expect to maintain that, if while billions of dollars of gas are being exported, Australians are left short.

JOURNALIST: 

How do you convince the states to open up exploration to create more supply?

PRIME MINISTER: 

The states - the worst example is Victoria. In Victoria, where there is a huge amount of gas and indeed, there is still a very large offshore gas resource in Bass Strait, but there is also an enormous amount of gas onshore that can be accessed by conventional means without fracking. 

The Victorian Labor Government, as usual, guided by its alliance with the Greens, has banned conventional gas exploration and, of course, also unconventional gas exploration and development. 

So at the same time, as the Victorian Labor Government is allowing the Hazelwood power station to close down, creating a very big reduction in the state's electricity generating capacity, it is preventing the development of the gas resources within that state which, of course, are needed to provide an alternative source of power.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister are you willing to work the Opposition Leader on this? Is it beneficial for you both to sit down together and discuss it?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, we’re sitting down today with the gas companies who of course have the resources and the reserves that are relevant to resolving this issue. But we always listen to and welcome any assistance and support from other parties.

JOURNALIST:

Has the Federal Government dropped the ball? The Japanese Government is collecting for tax revenue from Australian gas than the Federal Government.

PRIME MINISTER: 

Well the matter of tax is another question. The issue right at the moment is security of supply. 

I just repeat this very simple fact of life - Australia has enormous gas resources. We are shortly to become the largest exporter of LNG in the world. 

It is not acceptable for Australians, families and businesses, to be short of gas. We are entitled to expect that our families, our businesses, which employ thousands of Australians, are entitled to access gas and do so securely and affordably.

JOURNALIST: 

Fracking is hugely contention right around the country. Is it time we just accepted it?

PRIME MINISTER: 

Obviously all methods of extraction, including fracking, have to be done in accordance with strict environmental standards and they are. It is being done in that way in Queensland, of course, as we know. 

But the simple fact of life is this - if state governments, particularly, and I cite Victoria as a very specific example, this is a state that has pursued a massive renewable objective with no plan for back-up at all. We've seen the disaster that that type of sleep-walking into an ideological energy policy has created in South Australia, where Jay Weatherill has had to provide a $500 million, half a billion-dollar apology note - this is for an electricity system that he said was a ‘grand experiment’ and ‘perfect’ and ‘world's best’ only a few months ago. That will be inadequate. What he's doing is playing a very expensive game of catch-up for his own failures. 

In Victoria, of course, you see a state that says it wants to get out of coal-fired power also now banning the exploration of gas, which is on any view, a much cleaner fuel. 

But the bottom line is this - Australians need reliable, affordable gas, whether it is for heating their homes or for cooking at home, or for running big industries that employ thousands of Australians.

That’s what we’re seeking to ensure and we will do so. I’m looking forward to the meeting with the gas company executives today. 

Thanks very much. 

[ENDS]

Transcript 40816