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NSW Labor’s blocking of gas projects is a handbrake on manufacturing jobs and economic recovery

June 4, 2020

NSW Labor politicians owe it to blue collar workers and families to support the development of onshore gas projects , says the Australian Workers’ Union.

The AWU has written to all NSW Labor MPs urging them to reject a bill that would put a halt to the Narrabri Gas Project threatening thousands of jobs in the process.

The upper house bill being proposed by independent MP Justin Field has received the support of NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay – a move which the AWU says is a sign the party now values the Green minority over the very real employment of manufacturing workers.

The Bill could also hamper the crucial role gas should be playing in Australia’s post pandemic future – in meeting both its energy needs, maximising job creation and boosting manufacturing capacity. Gas is also a critical bridging fuel that can assist in firming the energy produced by renewable energy inputs.

Daniel Walton, National and NSW Secretary of the AWU, said: “Labor’s stance on this issue flies in the face of everything our party is meant to stand for. So, I’m writing personally to every New South Wales Labor member and reminding them of what’s at stake.

“I also want them to meet some of the people whose livelihoods depend on affordable gas. Their concerns are much more tangible than the imagined concerns of gas conspiracy theorists in trendy seats.”

The Narrabri Gas Project (NGP) is currently being independently assessed on whether it can operate safely. If approved its benefits will be far reaching and should be seen as an opportunity to reclaim energy competitiveness in NSW and secure manufacturing jobs across the state.

“If the project passes the relevant approvals – it should go ahead. This is a process based on science and facts, not emotion.” Mr Walton said.

The stakes are high – over the last five years gas prices have tripled and one in five heavy manufacturers are at risk of closing if energy prices remain high.

Currently NSW imports 95% of its gas supply from other states but the NGP has enough gas to fulfil 50% of NSW’s gas needs, and at a cheaper price than if purchased from other states.

The NGP will deliver over half of NSW’s gas needs, and if successful could significantly drive down the price of energy for industry, saving over 20,000 jobs in NSW. It would also create thousands more by expanding the manufacturing sector and injecting billions into the state’s economy.

Securing an affordable and stable gas supply in NSW would help other industries that rely on gas – including Qenos’s polyethelene plant in Botany, Tomago aluminium smelter in Newcastle, Bluescope Steel in Port Kembla, and OI Glass in Penrith.

As a critical input into electricity generation, it could also help shave off over $200 in household electricity bills.

The letter concludes by urging Labor members to be on right side of industry policy for coming decades. “Rejecting Independent MP Justin Field’s Bill will prove that NSW Labor has blue collar jobs at the forefront of its interests and tell traditional Labor voters that the party will fight for their jobs above fringe environmental extremists with loud voices and no constituency.”

The AWU has been campaigning since 2012 for a gas reservation policy – something that every other gas exporting nation on earth does – and more gas extraction.

Gas reservation is critical to keeping prices lower in Australia, by keeping more of Australia’s gas at home for use by Australian businesses and families. If the Narrabri Project is approved, 100% of the gas extracted will be reserved locally.

“This project will be 100% reserved for domestic use in NSW. That’s great news for every manufacturer and every household.” Mr Walton said.

The AWU needs your support to protect Australian manufacturing jobs. Stand with us by joining your union today.

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