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Sep 28, 2017

Another day, another Turnbull gas press conference

Having recycled his Snowy Hydro announcement, the Prime Minister is now recycling announcements about securing gas supply. At least he's getting stuck into Labor though.

Mafeking relieved — again! The Prime Minister, flanked by his Kiwi deputy, yesterday declared that the gas crisis was over and he wouldn’t have to impose a reservation on gas exports after all, because gas exporters had assured him there would be enough gas for the domestic market.

“They have given us a guarantee that they will offer to the domestic market the gas that was identified as the expected demand shortfall, by AEMO, in 2018,” the Prime Minister said. 

Splendid news. Except, that’s very similar to what he announced just over six months ago, too. On March 15, he announced “we’ve just finished a meeting with east coast gas producers. They have given us a commitment – a guarantee – that gas will be available to meet peak demand periods in the national electricity market… It is utterly untenable, unacceptable, for us to be in a position where domestic gas consumers – whether it’s generators, whether it’s businesses and industry, or whether it’s families – cannot have access to affordable gas.”

Of course, yesterday the Prime Minister went on to blame the states for banning gas exploration, and… oh wait, he did that back in March, as well. “We must continue the pressure on State and Territory governments to revisit the restrictions on gas development and exploration,” he said back then, singling out Victoria. Now he singles out both Victoria and NSW as well. There’s one other difference, however. Back in March, or about 10 Newspolls ago, Turnbull went the entire media conference on gas without mentioning Labor once. Yesterday, Labor was mentioned no less than a dozen times. That follows the 16 times Labor was mentioned at Monday’s media conference.

As the Financial Review’s Angela Macdonald-Smith sceptically noted “there’s the same volume of available today for sale for east coast users as there was yesterday – and it still comes at a price tag that many industrial buyers say they can’t afford to pay.”

Still, if the point was to kick Labor yet again, the press conference was useful. Though “Blackout Bill” has been retired, if only temporarily — someone in the PMO worked out that if you start getting mocked for your incessant use of a nickname, it’s probably a good idea to give it a rest.

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16 comments

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16 thoughts on “Another day, another Turnbull gas press conference

  1. Wallywonga

    Yes, surprised mainstream media bought this as much, as to interpret it as a “win” for MT. Still only words.
    Ever since power privatisation began, the story has been of hollow, broken promises, and increasing instability and costs.
    Methinks the public will remain sceptical, and would find only regulation any sort of reassurance.
    Labour has it right; Mr T is also obviously not confident, as they are concurrently upping the “blame the states” campaign.

  2. Dog's Breakfast

    “It is utterly untenable, unacceptable, for us to be in a position where domestic gas consumers – whether it’s generators, whether it’s businesses and industry, or whether it’s families – cannot have access to affordable gas.”

    Well, the key there is the ‘affordable’ bit, with gas prices something like 2 to 3 times what they were 3 or 4 years ago, mostly locked up in contracts to ship to Japan at half the price paid by locals who don’t have the costs of liquifying and sending it 3 or 4 thousand kilometres by ship.

    If it is already guaranteed by the companies then they won’t have any problem with it being backed up by a Domestic supply guarantee, so there is still no argument not to pull the trigger on that one. But the bigger issue is the price, and there should be price controls on the gas. This is a central and essential commodity and in spite of the free trade naysayers should be rigidly and heavily controlled by real regulators, not captured ones.

    As much as some headlines are stating that this is a big win for the PM, even in the formerly impartial SMH (well, it’s a relative term) I’m with Wallywonga, I’m not sure the public will be buying it.

    1. Wallywonga

      Yes, surprised at M Kenny’s (SMH) take on this, to the extent of ridiculing Labour’s stance. This “deal” is either (another) bit of self congratulatory verbage by MT, or worse it is a very costly guarantee of gas supply, that has the potential to push many small and medium businesses to the wall. Finally suckered by Mr Turnbull’s bs, Mr Kenny?

  3. MJM

    “As the Financial Review’s Angela Macdonald-Smith sceptically noted “there’s the same volume of available today for sale for east coast users as there was yesterday – and it still comes at a price tag that many industrial buyers say they can’t afford to pay.”” Industrial buyers are not the only ones who can’t afford it – domestic buyers are in the same situation. No wonder so many people are putting PV panels on their rooftops.

  4. Gary

    OK domestic gas supply fixed..now for coal! a domestic shortage also created by higher overseas prices.

    And while we are on that..how about scallops and lobster/crayfish?? at one time plentifully available now a luxury due to higher export pricing..

  5. Nudiefish

    It is my imperfect understanding of the way these things work is that after the PM finishes his blathering the mob holding all the microphones get to – you know – ask him stuff.

    If that be the case, why doesn’t one of these particular folk call him out on things like this very point?

    1. Dog's Breakfast

      I’ve always wondered about this Nudiefish. When they are uttering utter utter bs to the camera, why isn’t any journo asking them simple questions, or even difficult ones. How about,

      “Prime Minister, why do you think it is a better idea to destroy good farmland and endanger water supplies and the Great Artesian Basin to get extra gas when we have more than sufficient quantities of gas for the local market?”
      Follow up
      “Are the prices for Coal Seam gas factoring in the destruction of farming land and the water table and concomitant costs to the food production industry, or are these more ‘externals’ to be ignored in the neoliberal fantasy world.”

      1. old greybearded one

        Sheer laziness and lack of background research I think DB. The morning presenter on RN lets them, especially ministers, get away with murder through either not knowing the stuff, or perhaps lack of courage.

  6. Wayne Cusick

    I think the government shouldn’t bother with export restrictions. They should just compulsorily acquire the gas at the real cost (not some stupid price linked to the international oil price) and then sell it directly to industrial users and consumers at a profit, but still less than they are now.

    1. Dog's Breakfast

      I’m well on board with that idea Wayne, you marxist/communist/socialist/delusional nutter/right wing derogatory phrase of your choice. Count me in.

  7. James Dean

    1. The lowest export contract price you are servicing is the highest domestic price you may demand.
    2. Domestic demand must be filled before any export demand may be considered.
    What would happen?

  8. Djbekka

    I agree with those who point to the dangerous uncosted outcomes of more and more fracking and other unconventional methods of extracting gas. Just leave it where it is and stop, this is important so I will say it again, STOP salivating on the high profits to be made if every bit of existing gas could be sold at the highest international price.

    Cut the export sales to the surplus of the domestic demand. Count the cost of liquification and shipment into the price of exports and reduce the price to the domestic users to reflect the existing infrastructure and the relative simplicity of delivering gas to those users, industrial or individuals.

  9. brian crooks

    this so called energy solution means nothing, no price relief for consumers, no new base power production, just turnbull bullshit mk 20 plus 1, if this clown isnt removed soon it will be too late to save australia`s energy production and supplies, this is exactly what happened in California after privatisation till the state government resumed ownership of their power utilities

  10. AR

    The utter failure of journos, whether at pressers or TV/radio interviews, to ask relevant questions is surely a result of their being functionally innumerate and so lacking in research ability as to swallow the total B/S shovelled onto them.
    The basis of neolib’s noxious nostrums is to privatise profits & socialise losses, no matter the scale individual or nation in whatever field, service or industry.
    In a sane world with an informed, or even half sentient, population the current situation of selling a limited resource more cheaply overseas than to the real owners, the citizenry, would not be tolerated for a single electoral cycle.
    Unless both “sides”, T1 & T2 were complicit and equally beholden to their masters.
    “things that make you go hmmm”

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