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Thursday, 20 November 1986
Page: 2603


Senator BLACK —Is the Minister for Resources and Energy aware of an announcement by the Queensland Government signalling the go-ahead for the development of Cooper Basin gas deposits in the south-west of that State to supply New South Wales and South Australian consumers? Does this development accord with the Federal Government's desire to promote the use of Australian energy resources in line with national needs, rather than solely State interests?


Senator GARETH EVANS —I very much welcome the announcement yesterday that the gas fields in the Cooper Basin in south-west Queensland near the borders with New South Wales and South Australia are to be developed by Hartogen Energy Ltd and its joint venture partners for sale to commercial interests in Queensland and New South Wales and, perhaps ultimately, South Australia. The announcement represents a very welcome change of view from the previously entrenched position of the Queensland Government, which had maintained that these resources should remain in the ground for use within Queensland only at some unspecified future time. This change of heart will, I believe, confer significant economic benefits on both Queensland and New South Wales in the first instance and ultimately on South Australia as well. I do not know whether this new national vision on the part of Sir Joh is anything to do with his impending, imminent move on to the national stage. But whatever motives lie behind this, it is a change of heart very much to be welcomed.

Under the development plan, as I understand it, it is anticipated that the south-west Queensland producers will sell some 350 billion cubic feet of natural gas, ethane and liquefied petroleum gas to the Australian Gas Light Co. in Sydney over a 10-year period. Valuable gas condensate from the same fields will be transported eastwards in the Jackson to Moonie liquids pipeline, and then on to Brisbane. I also understand that AGL proposes to offer to the Pipelines Authority of South Australia a volume of gas equivalent to the quantity to be obtained by AGL from the south-west Queensland fields. If such an offer were taken up, the additional supplies to South Australia would come from AGL's entitlement under its existing contract with the Cooper Basin gas producers. Obviously, many complex commercial details remain to be negotiated between the various interests involved, and this will take time. Nevertheless, the first major step has now been taken in what is a most promising program to develop more of Australian's abundant resources of natural gas.

Finally, this is an excellent example of the kind of interstate co-operation and efficient use of our resources which the recent Energy 2000 national conference concluded was needed on a much wider scale in Australia. Far too often in the past, the interests of both individual States and the nation as a whole have suffered from damaging interstate rivalry.