Today, Daniel Andrews finally takes the first belated steps to lift his damaging moratorium on conventional onshore gas exploration.
It is only after the formal release of the Liberal Nationals’ gas policy, unlocking Victoria’s natural gas potential, that Labor finally made a decision to lift the moratorium, after five years of uncertainty and indecision.
After three years, with a $43 million report on the table, Labor has finally reached the same conclusion the Liberal Nationals came to in 2017.
Labor’s flawed policy of locking up this essential resource has seen gas prices rise from $3.33 a gigajoule in December 2014 to $7.50 in December 2019.
That is a whopping upsurge of 125.2% in just five years.
In addition, it will take years to bring investor interest back to Victoria, with Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association Chief Executive Andrew McConville saying, “The moratorium in Victoria is also hurting investment confidence and that's going to take years to repair."
While the Liberal Nationals will support Labor’s proposed legislation, we will be proposing three significant amendments.
Because there has been no work done to update accompanying regulation, Labor will not be lifting the moratorium until 30 June 2021, a full year after the legislated sunset date.
The Liberal Nationals will demand the government to pull out all stops to get the regulations done as quickly as possible. Our first proposed amendment will allow the government to lift the moratorium as soon as that work is complete, rather than waiting until 30 June 2021.
In a departure from the Liberal Nationals’ policy, Daniel Andrews is refusing to allow landowners to participate in the royalties paid to the government for gas development.
The Liberal Nationals second proposed amendment will introduce a requirement for 10 per cent of royalties paid to the government to be fairly distributed back to the landowner, ensuring that all the relevant parties are in true partnership.
Further support to landowners will be provided in the third proposed amendment, with landowners given the right of veto over any gas development on their property.
Daniel Andrews has an opportunity to support Victorian farmers by supporting our amendments.
Labor’s gas policy has added significantly to business and household bills. And while we support this belated return to an industry which has previously thrived in Victoria, we urge the government to move more quickly so that the investment and jobs can be realised earlier.
The question remains, after directly causing unnecessary price increases for Victorian households and businesses and showing contempt for landowners, as well as virtually destroying the gas industry in Victoria, will Daniel Andrews do what he can to quickly get the industry back on its feet and give landowners the respect they deserve?
Ryan Smith MP
Shadow Minister for Energy and Renewables
Shadow Minister for Resources