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The Morrison government has announced they will back the construction of a gas-fired power station in plans to prevent an energy price spike for employers and households and help rebuild the Australian economy.
“Gas is a critical enabler of Australia’s economy,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement ahead of Tuesday’s speech. “Our competitive advantage has always been based on affordable, reliable energy.
“As we turn to our economic recovery from COVID-19, affordable gas will play a central role in re-establishing the strong economy we need for jobs growth, funding government services and opportunities for all.”
In a speech given in the Tomago on Tuesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that gas will play a vital role in Australia’s renewable energy future, and that his government is not afraid to step in if the private sector does not provide it themselves.
“Gas is not only central to our industry plan, it’s also central to our energy plan,” he said.
“As I said at the Press Club earlier this year, there is no credible energy transition plan for an economy like Australia that does not involve the greater use of gas.”
This has been met with apprehension from industry leaders and scientists questioning the how growth in extraction and export of gas match with Australia’s emissions commitments and the Paris Agreement.
In the wake of Tuesday’s announcement, The Australian Conservation Foundation’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy has said: “The Covid-19 pandemic’s massive disruption to our industries and jobs has deeply upset Australians, but it won’t compare to the economic disruption we will experience if our governments back dirty fossil fuels like gas over clean, renewable energy and technology.”
The Morrison government will back the construction of a new gas-fired power station in the NSW Hunter Valley if energy giant AGL does not replace its Liddell coal-fired power station.
This feeds into government fears that NSW will see a gas price spike similar to that which occurred in Victoria after the closure of the Hazelwood coal-fired power station, which saw wholesale prices reach 85 per cent at their peak.
Government-owned Snowy Hydro Limited is also developing options to build a gas generator in the Hunter Valley at Kurri Kurri should the energy market not create one.
The government is also supporting five new gas fields and more pipelines to transport gas to Sydney, Melbourne and other major markets that risk running low on gas in coming winters.