Liberal Nationals to lift natural gas ban to cut power bills and cut emissions – with no fracking

Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien has announced a Liberal Nationals Government will lift the moratorium on conventional onshore natural gas in Victoria to lower energy bills, reduce emissions and support jobs. This will be done while maintaining the ban on fracking.

It is time for Victorians to benefit from our own natural resources. Opening up clean, onshore natural gas will reduce emissions while taking the pressure off power bills, supporting families struggling with the high cost of living.

Victorian jobs will also benefit from lower power bills, as the soaring cost of electricity under Labor has led to business closures and job losses.

Victorian energy prices have skyrocketed since Labor was elected in 2014. Labor’s failed energy policies have led to wide-spread blackouts, as Victoria becomes unable to meet its own energy needs, especially during summer.

While Labor’s tripling of royalties forced the closure of Victoria’s largest power plant, Labor’s moratorium on onshore natural gas has pushed power prices up even further. Victorians are being forced to pay amongst the highest electricity prices in Australia, with wholesale electricity prices almost tripling in Victoria since 2015.

According to the Australian Energy Regulator, Victoria’s need for gas-powered electricity generation has increased 173 per cent since March 2017. This was the same month that Daniel Andrews legislated ban on onshore conventional natural gas exploration came into effect in Victoria and Labor’s policies forced the closure of the Hazelwood Power Station.

A secure future supply of natural gas for Victoria's electricity generation market is also essential in providing a pathway for Victoria to transition to a low emissions future.

Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, recently noted that “natural gas will play (a) critical role” in transitioning to a lower emissions future.

The January 2020 interim report of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC’s) inquiry into gas supply in Australia states:

“Concerns about the adequacy of future gas supply are exacerbated by the blanket moratoria and regulatory restrictions in some states and territories which inhibit further gas exploration and development of new gas resources, especially in Victoria and New South Wales.”

The Victorian Liberal Nationals believe that Victoria’s onshore natural gas resources should be developed to benefit Victorians.

A Liberal Nationals Government will encourage onshore conventional natural gas exploration and extraction on a case-by-case basis with rigorous environmental assessment.

Landowners will be given a right of veto over conventional gas exploration and extraction on their land, meaning that no gas exploration or extraction can occur without the consent of the owner of the land. Landowners will also benefit from the Liberal Nationals’ royalty sharing scheme with commercial payments going directly to landowners.

To ensure maximum downward pressure on local gas prices, Victoria’s onshore natural gas will be quarantined for domestic use; it will not be available for export.

The Liberal Nationals do not support fracking or coal seam gas extraction in Victoria.

Victoria’s brown coal resources are unsuitable for fracking and a Liberal Nationals Government will maintain a permanent ban on fracking in this state.

Comments attributable to Leader of the Opposition, Michael O’Brien:

“Only the Liberal Nationals have a plan to help reduce household energy bills while also generating a cleaner and more reliable energy supply.

“The Liberal Nationals’ policy ensures that Victoria can produce its own reliable power supply while also protecting landowners rights.”

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Resources, Energy and Renewables, Ryan Smith:

“Natural gas is reliable, safe and an efficient power supply for our state that is facing a real threat of energy reliability, particularly during those hot summer months.

“Daniel Andrews’ failed energy policies have added significantly to the cost of living burden Victorians are facing every day. This policy will directly support Victorian households and businesses by easing those ever-increasing power bills.”

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