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Akehurst sacking raises national interest questions.



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MEDIA RELEASE Joel Fitzgibbon MP Federal Member for Hunter Shadow Minister for Resources Electorate 45 Vincent Street PO Box 526 Cessnock NSW 2325 Ph: (02) 4991 1022 Fax: (02) 4991 2322 Parliament House RG 52 Canberra ACT 2600 Ph: (02) 6277 4404 Fax: (02) 6277 8479

April 16, 2003

AKEHURST SACKING RAISES NATIONAL INTEREST QUESTIONS

The Woodside Board’s decision to sack Chief Executive John Akehurst has implications for Australia’s National Interest.

It demonstrates that while Shell was unsuccessful in its attempt to take-over Woodside, its Board influence is sufficient to control the big decisions.

Amongst future decisions for the Board will be many which have a direct impact on Australia’s place in the global energy market and the extent to which we are able to maximise the economic and social benefits which flow from our rich endowment of oil and gas.

For example, Shell’s show of strength can only be bad news for the future of the Greater Sunrise gas field in the Timor Sea. It is Shell, not Woodside, championing the exploitation of that resource using new floating LNG technology against the national interest.

Shell’s increasing dominance in the up-stream oil and gas sector raises the prospect of Australian projects being warehoused in favour of the multi-national’s interests elsewhere.

Australia’s resources must be developed in a manner which reduces import dependency and generates maximum economic, social and environmental benefit to all Australians.

Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane must do two things. He should haul Shell in and insist that all Shell’s project decisions meet the national interest test.

Second, he should embrace Labor’s plan to increase competition in up-stream oil and gas by applying tougher ‘use or lose’ principles when considering applications to develop oil and gas reserves.

Contact: Joel Fitzgibbon 0418 293 372