Speech to the Australian Energy Producers Conference


Thank you Samantha (Samantha McCulloch, Chief Executive, Australian Energy Producers) for that welcome.

I’d like to also acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land where we are gathered today, the Whadjuk Noongar people, and pay my respects to their Elders, past and present.

I extend that respect to First Nations peoples present. 

Can I also acknowledge my fellow speakers:

  • The Hon Reece Whitby MLA, Minister for Energy; Environment; Climate Action
  • Meg O’Neill, Chair, Australian Energy Producers
  • And our former Governor-General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove

I am delighted to be invited to address the Australian Energy Producers Conference here in my home state of WA.


Last week as you would know the Albanese Government handed down its 2024 Budget.

This Budget was focused on the here and now – helping ease cost of living pressures by delivering a tax cut to every taxpayer, and a $300 energy rebate to every household.

While we must balance the pressures on the economy and the pressure on households, that does not mean we stand still.

This Budget is responsible and restrained, easing the cost of living pressures, and with an eye to the future, it invests in a Future Made in Australia.

The Future Made in Australia policy puts Australia’s resources industry at the heart of Government policy for the first time in a generation. 

Now that is very exciting for me and something I think everybody in this room should be very focused on. 

Future Gas Strategy

In addition to the work we’ve been doing developing the most significant contribution to the future of the resources sector, my team and I have been developing the Future Gas Strategy. 

As everyone here is aware, gas plays a critical role in Australia’s economy – LNG is our second largest resource commodity export earner - and so I’d like to take you through the Albanese Government’s newly released Future Gas Strategy.

Twelve months ago we announced the development of the Strategy.

In that time we have released an issues paper, received over 250 public submissions and undertaken extensive consultation both domestically and with trading partners.

We have taken submissions from bodies such as the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Australian Energy Council, Bluescope Steel, the Business Council of Australia, INPEX, Origin Energy, BP Australia and traditional owner groups, just to name a few. 

We did the analysis. And we have published a 100-page analytical report which transparently sets out our extensive and thorough work. 

The Strategy represents the first time the Commonwealth has carefully examined the future supply and use of gas in Australia as we decarbonise, to access if and how it could be consistent with our net zero targets.

I truly hope you’ve all had a chance to read it.

It’s a highly charged and complex subject, and it is important that we’re reacting to the evidence and the whole picture, not just the headlines. 

This is the first time a government has made the effort and done the work to establish what the role of gas will be in our determined journey to reach net zero, while we also ensure Australians have access to affordable energy, and secure the future of industry and manufacturing in a decarbonising economy. 

Can I be very clear what this strategy is not. 

It bears no resemblance to the LNP Gas Led Recovery, as I have seen some suggest. 

The central, guiding theme of the Future Gas Strategy is the Government’s pledge to get to net zero, and how gas can support that. 

Indeed, the first principle behind it is the commitment to support global emissions reductions and reach net zero.

The Coalition’s ill-thought through Gas Led Recovery thought bubble recklessly dumped all responsibility for the nation’s future energy security on gas as coal fired generation declined. 

The mirage that was the so-called Gas Lead Recovery just piled unnecessary pressure on the industry – making it even harder to have the difficult but important discussions about how different energy and industrial heat sources participate in our future economy.

As far as three-word slogans go, “Gas Led Recovery” is about as useful as “no new gas” when it comes to helping us balance the economic, energy and environmental challenges and realities ahead for us and our region.

Whereas the Future Gas Strategy is based on science and data. 

The Future Gas Strategy maps the Australian Government’s plan for how gas will be needed to support our economy’s transition to Net Zero in partnership with the world, out to 2050. The strategy’s objectives are to:

  • support decarbonisation of the Australian economy;
  • safeguard energy security and affordability;
  • maintain Australia’s reputation as an attractive trade and investment destination; and 
  • help our trade partners on their own paths to net zero.

Let me be clear: gas has a role to play in our future but emissions have to rapidly and permanently come down.

If there was a credible way to reach net zero swiftly without denying Australians energy, or causing the collapse of manufacturing and Australian industry, or endangering regional energy security and regional stability I’d pursue it. 

There is no other way to put it. There is no sugar-coating it. 

I can say this to this audience because you know what that job entails – its not an easy one, nor does it happen quickly or cheaply.

As a Government, we have legislated a credible emissions reduction policy through the strengthened Safeguard Mechanism. It’s fair to say the gas industry was not entirely happy with all of that, but we have worked through issues – because we simply must.

The business community has been crying out for certainty on climate policy for years so they can have the clarity they need to make the investments required to power our economy and those of our trading partners.  

Since we came to office, there's been a 25% increase in renewables in the National Energy Market, and this has driven both its total emissions and emissions intensity to all time record lows. 

We've doubled the rate of approvals for energy projects, and provided over a billion dollars for homes and business to upgrade their energy efficiency.

As an industry, you too are cutting emissions and have the ingenuity and technology to make further emissions reduction happen. 

For starters, the Strategy points to work we can do together to reduce flaring and venting. 

Collaborating and working together is also what we need to do well.

Carbon capture and storage is another such opportunity.

CCS hasn’t got the best reputation – the Head of the IEA, Dr Fatih Birol was in the Australian Financial Review a couple of weeks ago saying ‘CCS is a very vital technology, but the story of carbon capture and storage is one of disappointment’.

Dr Birol is right. Its progress is disappointing but that is no reason to abandon the potential of a technology that is needed to help us to get to net zero. 

Imagine if we talked about the potential for hydrogen in the same way. 

Technology takes time – research, science, investment and time. 

I am a little more optimistic for the prospects of CCS in Australia – we have the regulatory frameworks in place and we have recently passed legislation to enable the transboundary movement of carbon dioxide for CCS purposes.

We did this to enable our own industry to reach scale and to give effect to our international commitments.

But the industry can’t afford a repeat of the LNG construction boom where we saw intense competition for workforce, logistics and infrastructure. 

To succeed, the industry needs to collaborate to reach scale. 

Yes it will be hard, yes there are commercial reasons why collaboration is difficult, but we cant afford to repeat the past when it comes to making rapid progress on reducing emissions. 

Right now, we are on the cusp of an opportunity for the sector here in Australia, as the world shifts to clean energy.

Australian gas will help us get to 82% renewables by 2030. 

In many applications it will also provide the high heat needed to refine and process and value add to more of our critical minerals here in Australia – a key priority of the Government’s Future Made in Australia.

That’s why our Future Gas Strategy and getting the role of gas in the transition right is so critical.

It will ensure secure, affordable Australian gas for householders and businesses, give certainty to exporters, and help Australia achieve its commitment to net zero.

The Strategy has been designed to allow the government to update it over time to incorporate new information on how the energy transition progresses and reflect changes in gas demand and gas supply.

The six principles on which the strategy is built are:

  • Australia is committed to supporting global emissions reductions to reduce the impacts of climate change and will reach net zero emissions by 2050.
  • Gas must remain affordable for Australian users throughout the transition to net zero. 
  • New sources of gas supply are needed to meet demand during the economy wide transition.
  • Reliable gas supply will gradually and inevitably support a shift towards higher-value and non-substitutable gas uses (households will continue to have a choice over how their energy needs are met).
  • Gas and electricity markets must adapt to remain fit for purpose throughout the energy transformation.
  • Australia is, and will remain, a reliable trading partner for energy, including LNG, and low emissions gases.

We need gas – not just to keep the lights on – but to achieve our net zero goals.

The same situation applies to our major export partners. 

Our partners will continue to need reliable supplies of gas to support their industries and to support their own clean-energy transitions

This strategy will ensure our national discussion on gas can be guided by concrete evidence and the latest data. Ultimately, it makes clear that while its role will change as we bring down emissions, Australian gas will continue to support our economy and our industries and will help us win the new global competition for jobs and opportunities.

I would like to thank and acknowledge the significant contribution from all who helped develop this strategy. 

I particularly recognise the important contributions from First Nations representatives and the Australian public who provided valuable insights in the consultation process. 

Other measures

Also in the Budget is a generational investment in science through the Resourcing Australia’s Prosperity – the RAP. 

The RAP is an investment in science; an investment into better understanding our geological endowment.

Resourcing Australia’s Prosperity will see Geoscience Australia map critical minerals, strategic materials and groundwater systems for the whole of Australia. 

It will deliver ‘precompetitive’ (AKA free) geoscience – the crucial first step that comes before private sector exploration and investment, not instead of it.

The initiative will assess all of Australia’s groundwater systems, supporting our climate resilience, our agricultural output and water security for communities and the environment. 

Resourcing Australia’s Prosperity will provide essential geoscience information to a wide audience, including regional communities and farmers to support land and water management.

This investment will mean there will be more data, maps and other tools readily available for use by the resources industry which will point the way to new discoveries. 

This funding support goes to the heart of the argument this Government is making about the future of our resources sector. 

Good policy backed by data and science, driving our resources sector to greater success. 

This is an incredibly exciting initiative, and the Government’s commitment to funding the program for 35 years shows our confidence in the sector, as well as our certainty that it will be our resources sector that will drive economic prosperity in the future, just like it has for decades. 

Exploration permits

As the Strategy makes clear, securing future supply of gas is important. Exploration is the lifeblood of our resources sector and we know it will continue to be needed into the future.

But we also need to turn our attention to the gas reserves that we already know about. 

Here on the West Coast of Australia, AEMO and the ACCC have forecasted gas supply shortfalls by the end of the decade. 

One way to help address this challenge is the timely development of already discovered resources.

The Future Gas Strategy makes reference to the work we will also do to tighten up retention lease policies.

As everybody in this room is keenly aware, ensuring the domestic market remains well supplied is integral to the social licence of this industry. 

So I look forward to working with the industry, and with my colleagues in the Western Australian Government, to make sure those gas resources are developed and brought to market expeditiously.

Offshore approvals

Just briefly, the Government has also committed $12 million to review the environmental management regime for offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas storage activities.

I want the offshore regulatory regime to remain fit for-purpose for a decarbonising economy.

The review includes a focus on clarifying the consultation requirements for offshore approvals.

The legislation to implement outcomes of the review did not pass the Senate last week as we prioritised worker safety provisions and ensuring certainty of the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax reforms.

I know there is some disappointment in this room about that but I want to be very clear: my disappointment is not for the industry but the community that will remain subject to inadequate and inappropriate consultation requirements, for longer. 

The Greens political party and the crossbench independents and others promoted widespread misinformation in relation to the proposal that would ensure the community had the benefit of clarity and certainty in consultation. 

This misinformation went entirely uncontested by just about everyone other than the Government. 

I am looking at ways to provide greater clarity and certainty to all stakeholders.

I want to make sure that genuine consultation is undertaken before any offshore activity commences.

I believe this is robust and sensible reform.

The Albanese Government is committed to improving consultation processes, so the wider community has confidence in the industry going into the future. 

We will have more to say on our approach in bringing certainty to consultation requirements in due course. 

As mentioned, the PRRT reforms did pass through Parliament last week and secures a stable investment environment for gas producers. 

This work complements other initiatives that the Albanese Government continues to progress, including the important work of improving safety outcomes for Australia’s offshore resources sector workforce, many of whom operate in some of the most high-risk workplaces anywhere in the country. 


A Future Made in Australia will need secure energy supplies. And that means for some jurisdictions, Australian gas.

But we can be under no illusions that our primary goal is net zero. 

Future generations of Australians depend on that. 

This means we must reduce emissions from gas. 

Ensuring Australia continues to have adequate access to reasonably priced gas will be key to delivering an 82 per cent renewable energy grid by 2030, and to achieve our commitment to reach net zero by 2050. 

We will need gas to support Australian manufacturing and Australian industry, and tens of thousands of Australian jobs.

Gas is clearly going to be integral to reaching our net zero goals – it’s our insurance policy for the energy grid as we move to cleaner and greener renewables.

That’s why we are so committed to maintaining the health and growth of the sector, through the Future Gas Strategy and other measures.

Thank you again for this opportunity and please enjoy the rest of the program.