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AWU welcomes Australia’s long overdue call to ‘Reserve Our Gas’

July 12, 2023

After many years of urging successive federal governments to reserve a portion of Australia’s natural gas for domestic use at an affordable price, the AWU is today celebrating a long overdue victory with the introduction of the mandatory gas code of conduct.

The AWU has long warned of the dangers of linking domestic gas prices to international prices, as the export gas industry opened up in the 2010s. With multinational gas exporters prioritising maximising profits from the export market, Australia was exposed to punishingly high domestic prices and potential gas supply shortfalls.

“We have long argued that our nation’s abundant natural gas reserve should be used to benefit all Australians, not just generate super profits for a handful of multinational gas corporations,” said incoming AWU National Secretary Paul Farrow.

“Today, we celebrate a federal government that has taken meaningful action to fix a broken market. Gas producers will now have to make binding commitments to provide reasonable prices and quantities of gas to the domestic market, under the threat of a hard price cap of $12 per gigajoule. Essentially, a domestic gas reservation scheme has been achieved and this will save thousands of Australian jobs and benefit millions of Australian households.

“It’s crucial that this code of conduct, unlike its predecessors, is mandatory and not voluntary. However strong oversight and enforcement will be necessary.”

Mr Farrow noted the ACCC’s enforcement of the new code would be critical.

“We have to hold the major gas producers accountable for the vital role they are privileged to hold within Australia’s economy with which they’ve been entrusted,” Mr Farrow said.

“We call on the ACCC to be vigilant on imposing harsher regulatory measures should any corporation fail to comply.

“We also urge the government to commit to maintaining this framework for at least five years, regardless of the outcomes of the proposed 2025 review. Such consistency will foster a predictable policy environment, giving stakeholders the confidence to make informed decisions that will ultimately strengthen our national gas industry.”

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