AWU conference passes emergency resolution calling for urgent action on gas

Australian Workers' Union

The National Conference of the Australian Workers’ Union has today passed an emergency resolution calling on the Australian Government to urgently expedite its review of the Australian Domestic Gas Security Mechanism (ADGSM), to include a price trigger and to activate this mechanism to give certainty to the Australian manufacturing industry.

The resolution comes in the wake of a damning ACCC analysis that forecasts a 56 petajoule shortfall in east coast gas supply for 2023, despite Australia producing abundant quantities of gas. The ACCC calls this figure a “significant risk to energy security” and accuses gas exporters of not supplying the domestic market in the spirit of the ‘gentleman’s agreement’ brokered by the former government between the major players.

Delegates from the heavy manufacturing sector supporting the AWU resolution today at Conference cited gas bills rising up to $700,000 per month at a glass manufacturer in Melbourne and $1 million a month at a steel manufacturer in Newcastle.

AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton noted the existing ‘trigger’ had been pulled by the Resources Minister today, but called on the government to now act with greater impact and urgency.

“The previous government left us all an unholy mess to clean up and we’ll have to move decisively to avoid disaster,” Mr Walton said.

“The ACCC analysis confirms what the AWU has been saying for a decade — you cannot trust multinational gas exporters with Australia’s energy security. Falling for their ‘trust us’ routine leads inevitably to the destruction of the Australian manufacturing sector. The writing has been on the wall since the very beginning.

“So much of the manufacturing sector relies on gas and those costs have risen astronomically this year. They just can’t afford to go on. If they shut we will see thousands upon thousands of workers lose their jobs. This will have far reaching flow-on effects for families and whole communities.

“If we allow a disaster to happen because of a shortage of affordable gas – while we are the largest gas producing nation on the planet – this will represent a catastrophic failure of government.

“We need the federal government to urgently expedite the review of the ADGSM, include a price trigger, to allow it to be immediately pulled to give certainty to the Australian manufacturing industry and the hundreds of thousands of workers who rely on it.”

The existing gas ‘trigger’ only guarantees supply, rather than supply at an affordable price.

“In the meantime the government should absolutely be looking at introducing a UK-style windfall tax to capture some of the extraordinary profit gouging that the gas exporters are enjoying as a result of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine,” Mr Walton said.

“If gas exporters want to avoid such a tax then they should be made to guarantee supply to the Australian domestic market.”

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