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Labor's plan for natural gas.



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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

EMBARGOED UNTIL 10:15AM ON THURSDAY MARCH 13, 2003

March 13, 2002

LABOR’S PLAN FOR NATURAL GAS

A Crean Labor Government will develop incentives for resource projects, which exploit offshore oil and gas reserves in a manner, which maximises the national interest.

Speaking at an Australian Energy Forum event in Darwin today, Labor’s Shadow Minister for Resources, Joel Fitzgibbon, said the current debate over the future of the Greater Sunrise gas field highlighted the need for the Commonwealth to become more pro-active in ensuring Australia’s energy resources are exploited in a manner which maximises the national interest.

“Australia’s resources must be developed in a manner which reduces import dependency and generates maximum economic, social and environmental benefit to all Australians, without compromising our material and environmental well being or our international competitiveness.

“Labor does not want to see global oil and gas companies strategically ‘sitting’ on leases in Australia while they develop leases overseas at Australia’s expense”, Mr Fitzgibbon told the Forum.

Mr Fitzgibbon said Labor would take a three-pronged approach to ensuring Greater Sunrise and other fields delivered maximum economic benefit to all Australians. He said in government, Labor’s Energy Task Force will be charged with: -

1. Increasing competition in up-stream oil and gas and applying tough use or lose principles when considering applications to develop oil and gas reserves.

2. Considering incentive-based taxation regimes, which reward those development proposals that maximise the national interest (like bringing Sunrise onshore).

3. Increasing domestic demand for gas to make resource projects more commercially viable.

“Australia’s gas network provides 18 percent of Australia’s primary energy needs and is forecast to reach only 24 per cent by the year 2020. Regardless of any success in raising investment levels in renewable energy forms, this is insufficient growth if we are to meet our environmental objectives and create sufficient domestic markets for our stranded gas reserves.

“Australia’s stranded gas reserves must be developed now or risk being stranded forever. There could be no greater warning sign of the need for greater government guidance in these matters than the threat that the Greater Sunrise field could be developed from a floating platform, denying the Northern Territory a huge economic boost”, Mr Fitzgibbon said.

Contact: Joel Fitzgibbon 0418 293 372 Katie Brassil 0401 107 491