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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Bowen launches fresh assault on gas industry

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Energy Minister Chris Bowen has launched a fresh attack on the gas industry, as he defends the government’s unprecedented deal to cap input prices to tackle the energy crisis.

On Friday, the federal government sealed a deal with state and territory leaders to immediately cap gas prices at $12 a gigajoule and coal prices at $125 a tonne for 12 months.

In addition, the plan will deliver $1.5 billion in rebates to vulnerable Australians, and impose a code of conduct.

Parliament will be recalled on Thursday to deal with the legislation, which the opposition says they will not support.

Business and industry insiders have also criticised the package, and warned price caps could adversely effect investment.

Mr Bowen, speaking with Sky News on Sunday, said he didn’t find complaints from the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association “convincing in the slightest”.

“This argument really goes to say we believed we need profits as high as we can get during a war, during a global energy crisis for our industry to be viable. Nobody is going to believe that because it’s just not true,” Mr Bowen said.

“This is Australian gas on Australian soil, and Australians should pay a fair price but they shouldn’t be paying a wartime price.”

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton says the government’s intervention will be “catastrophic” for the energy market, which opposition spokesperson for energy Ted O’Brien also reiterated on Sunday.

“Our view in opposition is exactly the same as it was when we were in government. We need to keep prices down, the lights on, and investment coming in,” Mr O’Brien told Sky News.

“The problem here is not a difference in opinion about the need for industries to have cheap energy or households to have cheap energy. The difference in our view is how you go about doing it.

“The government said they had a plan, that’s already failed. Now they’re coming up with a new plan and I’m telling you it will fail.”

Mr Bowen questioned what the opposition would do if they had the power.

“These are Australian resources that should be available to Australians. I want to know why Peter Dutton and Ted O’Brien think that these prices more than doubling is okay,” Mr Bowen said.

“What’s their plan? Would they stand aside and do absolutely nothing?”

Mr O’Brien said the government’s blatant opposition to nuclear power, which Mr Bowen says is “the most expensive form of energy” would exacerbate the problem down the line.

“Labor’s approach right now is not working,” he said.

“We have 33 countries in the world right now for whom nuclear energy stacks up economically. We know another 50 countries are looking at introducing nuclear energy because it stacks up and provides a 24/7 baseload technology.

“Other countries that have studied this say renewables work with nuclear energy and nuclear stacks up.”

Originally published as Chris Bowen defends government’s energy deal, attacks gas industry

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