Resources Minister Madeleine King has warned gas producers, again warning that the government is ready to pull the “gas trigger” if companies fail to come to the table.
The consumer watchdog has warned the outlook for next year is ‘very concerning’ as most gas supply is for export and urged the federal government to step in to avert shortages .
But the gas companies have hit back, accusing the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) of demonizing them, denying there will be a shortfall.
Speaking to ABC’s registered nurse, Ms King insisted that was not the case.
“The ACCC is a highly respected institution. He does a lot of work on competition law and other issues of great concern to the Australian public,” she told ABC RN Breakfast.
“I don’t think it helps to accuse them of demonizing an industry. But, nevertheless, people are entitled to their opinions.
Anthony Albanese also supported the report, insisting that the ACCC was not seeking to vilify gas producers.
“I stand by the ACCC report… There is currently some gas being extracted without a contract. That’s what we’re looking at. We are not looking to interfere with existing contracts that exist,” he told Nine.
“We want to make sure that businesses, manufacturers can continue and also that households have access to gas. We want to work with companies to achieve this.
The government has the power to compel companies to withhold supply that would otherwise have been exported to ensure there is enough gas in the domestic market.
If he were to enact Australia’s Domestic Gas Safety Mechanism, it would be for the first time since it was established in 2017. The measure is due to expire next year, but the government has signaled plans to extend it until 2030.
“We are ensuring that it is available as one of the government levers for domestic gas supply,” Ms King said.
“It’s a very serious matter to introduce export controls, especially when it comes to international investors.”
Ms King said she had been in regular contact with gas producers since being sworn in and was ‘reassured’ the industry was working on a solution.
But she warned that corporate social license was on the decline.
“They want to have a good reputation because they want the right people, the best people, the most qualified people in the country to work for them, so, you know, everybody better be liked, so to speak” , Ms. King said.