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Plan to keep Aussies’ power bills down

Written by on May 9, 2024

The Albanese government will bolster its support for new gas fields as Australia moves towards a net-zero future in order to ensure the lights stay on and the power bills remain affordable despite growing pressure to ease reliance on the fossil fuel.

In its “future gas strategy” to be released on Thursday, Labor will back the case for new gas fields and import terminals to shore up adequate, affordable supplies for millions of customers.

It will say Australia is at risk of shortages within four years unless the country’s supply is bolstered.

Ahead of unveiling the strategy, Resources Minister Madeline King told ABC Radio there were “uses for gas we can’t substitute” yet.

“We hope to (find a substitute for gas), but we don’t know when that will be possible. In the meantime, we can’t have wishful thinking without backup,” she said.

“The five million households across the country that rely on gas for their heating and energy while we transition to electrification, that gas needs to be affordable, and to be affordable you need reliable supply.”

She said it was hard to predict how much gas would be used for Australia’s energy requirements over the next two-three decades.

“The thing about it is it’s hard to predict, but what we do know is there will be a need for gas because there are many uses for gas that we can’t substitute,” she said.

The strategy will say new supplies are fundamental to the economic transition to net-zero emissions and the industries in Labor’s “made in Australia” agenda.

An official report supplementing the strategy will reveal Australia could fill future shortfalls by opening new gas fields in Scarborough, off the WA coast, and in Narrabri, in northern NSW.

The strategy will include measures to abate emissions from gas production in a bid to soften backlash from the Greens, teal independents, and some of Labor’s own Left.

The measures will include promoting the use of carbon capture and storage and minimising the release of methane when gas is extracted.

The strategy will also contain initiatives to facilitate the increased extraction of gas, with measures to stop companies sitting on untapped resources.

Before it had even been released, the strategy was met with backlash from the Greens.

“The world is cooking and the Albanese government’s plan is to turn up the gas,” NSW senator David Shoebridge said.

“This is a criminal decision from Labor to push for new climate-smashing gas mines.”