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Thursday, 20 August 2009
Page: 8543

Ms JACKSON (2:24 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Resources and Energy and Minister for Tourism. Will the minister advise the House about the outlook for Australian LNG in the Asia-Pacific region?

Mr MARTIN FERGUSON (Minister for Resources and Energy and Minister for Tourism) —I thank the member for Hasluck, a Western Australian who is proud of the announcements this week on achieving long-term export opportunities for Australia to the tune of $75 billion. The first ever long-term LNG supply contract with India was achieved on Monday of last week, and a $50 billion long-term LNG supply contract with PetroChina was achieved earlier this week. These contracts make a very strong statement that Australia is open for investment and, importantly, a very strong statement to the Asia-Pacific region that we are committed to developing our mineral and energy resources so as to not only maximise jobs and wealth in Australia but also meet the emerging needs of countries such as China and India.

Let us deal with the recent history of the LNG industry and its potential in the very near future. In 2008-09, Australian LNG generated almost $10 billion in export earnings. That is nearly three times the value of LNG exports only three years ago. Today we have 20 million tonnes per year of production capacity on the North West Shelf in Western Australia and in Darwin. That LNG services key markets such as Japan, China and Taiwan and, in the foreseeable future, India and other Asia-Pacific nations. Perhaps more importantly, on achieving the Gorgon investment decision, with the good progress on Pluto 1, which is close to production, we have the capacity to double our export opportunities to the tune of 40 million tonnes and, in doing so, double our export earnings.

I am also pleased to report to the House that the government will continue to work with the governments of the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland in close alliance with the petroleum companies, because the race is on with respect to a number of other major LNG projects. I refer to Ichthys and its potential for the northern part of Australia, principally Darwin; Pluto 2 and Pluto 3 and the announcements by Woodside yesterday; Sunrise and our relationship with the Timor-Leste government; Wheatstone; Prelude; Browse; Scarborough; and Gladstone, the new frontier on the east coast of Australia, where there is great interest in coal seam methane based LNG, a new export opportunity for Australia.

For Australia, that is not just about doubling or even tripling our LNG export opportunities; it is also about potentially achieving investments to the tune of $100 billion over the next couple of years. That creates wealth for the private sector and export earnings for the government to improve on the requirement to properly service the Australian community in areas such as health, education and basic infrastructure. It also creates real jobs on the ground.

We should not forget that LNG is regarded as clean energy in the transition to a low-emission global community. By way of information to the House, for every tonne of CO2 produced in Australia when LNG is made, nine tonnes are saved when it is used for power generation in China. That is why I was also involved in a number of key conferences in China this week, going not only to the Gorgon export opportunities but also to our capacity to fuel their economy as they return to high growth and, in doing so, assist the global community to return to what we all want sooner than later: better economic growth.

I am pleased to report that in meetings with the China National Petroleum Corporation—better known as PetroChina—the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, CNOOC, and Chairman Zhang Ping of the National Development and Reform Commission they have been vitally focused on Australia’s export opportunities—not only in LNG but also in the expansion of our uranium sector and, very importantly, our capacity to work with them on clean coal technology and also the renewables sector. From Australia’s point of view, we are well placed not only to service the requirements of the Asia-Pacific region on LNG, with terrific export opportunities and jobs in Australia, but also to take forward the clean energy debate in a very close, cooperative way with our counterparts in places such as China, Korea, India and Japan.

In conclusion, I simply say that the outcomes of negotiations over recent months, which will hopefully conclude in the finalisation of the necessary requirements for the Gorgon investment decision, are in Australia’s national interest. I am pleased to say that the government has worked with Western Australia and the business sector so as to facilitate that investment sooner rather than later. Perhaps more importantly, I simply remind the House that there are a wealth of other LNG opportunities that will create further investment, wealth and jobs in Australia and in doing so will serve emerging economies such as China and India.