Minister for Resources, Jaclyn Symes, has implicitly accepted that the Andrews Labor Government’s moratorium on conventional onshore gas exploration, which won’t be lifted until 1 July, has driven up gas prices.
Today, in the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC), when asked if she accepted that the moratorium caused a 125 per cent increase in Victorian gas prices, between December 2014 and December 2019, the Minister weakly responded:
New gas will hopefully have a downward pressure on gas prices.
The Minister did not dispute the price increases to date. Nor did she commit to bringing that ‘new gas’ to market quicker. The moratorium will not be lifted until 1 July 2021.
In limiting the opportunity to explore for, develop and supply Victorian gas, the Labor Government has been forced to import gas from Queensland, a portion of which has been developed through fracking.
Deputy Chair of PAEC, Richard Riordan MP, raised this with the Minister, stating:
[So you are] happy to take unsafe extraction of [fracked] gas from other States?
Bizarrely and wrongly, all the Minister could say in response was:
Because it’s a national market, you don’t necessarily know where the gas is coming from.
The Minister went on to state that gas was only her concern when it is underground, once it has been extracted it is not her problem.
The Victorian Liberal Nationals oppose fracking; in contrast the Labor Party has issued 23 fracking licences and, hypocritically, is content to use fracked gas from other states for Victorian use.
Quotes attributable to the Hon. Ryan Smith MP, Shadow Minister for Resources:
“The Andrews Labor Government claims to oppose fracking. Yet, they are the only party who has ever issued fracking licences in Victoria – 23 times. Hypocritically, they also import fracked gas from Queensland. Only the Victorian Liberal Nationals are consistently opposed to fracking in all its forms.
“The Resources Minister acknowledges there was a 125 per cent increase in Victorian gas prices between December 2014 and December 2019. But she still stubbornly refuses to lift the moratorium stopping new gas getting to market until 1 July 2021. These increased costs hurt Victorian families.”