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Remarks at Ministerial Gas Roundtable

Parliament House Canberra

12 November 2020

ANGUS TAYLOR: Thank you very much for being here. I welcome you all to the roundtable. I am really pleased that we’ve got representatives from right across the gas supply chain including users, suppliers, associations, and range of industry participants.

Let me make a few opening remarks.

The Gas industry in this country - we've built an extraordinary industry over a period of time.

I think often we don't congratulate ourselves as a country and you as a group for what has been achieved over a relatively short period of time.

And I'm always quick to point out that Australia has been foundational in the global LNG industry which is changing the energy system across the world in a dramatic way.

I am sure we will talk about that more today and we should be very proud, everyone should be very proud of the role that Australia has played in that extraordinary achievement. And of course that is not only providing affordable, reliable energy to Australia and to countries all around the world, it's actually proving to be instrumental in bringing down emissions across the world as well.

To be able to tick all of those boxes at once is a truly remarkable achievement in an area of policy and business which has been at times extremely challenging for everybody.

We should celebrate that role and those achievements first and foremost.

We do have challenges. There's no question about that.

Our recovery plan is all about addressing challenges to make the most of this extraordinary industry.

Three areas we're focused of course - unlocking supply, we've got to get that supply coming out and there is much we and state government, local government and others can do to help to unlock supply.

Delivering an efficient transportation market is so critical. Moving gas is the great challenge of gas. One of the challenges is transport and we've got to have efficient transportation.

And empowering customers, making sure that we're able to take advantage of our position as one of the great or the biggest LNG export in the world, but our position as a country that has abundant natural resources. We need to see Australian gas working for Australians and taking advantage of our position as well as a world leader in gas exports.

We are seeing big changes in the market but we do need an industry where both gas suppliers and users can thrive. Now there's always a risk these things become a zero sum. The challenge for us all is to make sure that we get outcomes which can work for the upstream industry and can work for users in Australia, as well of course as customers across the world.

Our manufacturing sector is incredibly reliant on gas. There's often been not enough understanding of the role of gas in industrial feedstock. I know I don't need to be preaching to the converted with this group but it is something, the story we need to continually tell. Gas is playing a crucial role in firming renewables. 

Gas is known well to every Australian. We see this when we talk to people across this country. They understand the role that gas plays in cooking their food, heating their house, delivering hot water. All of those things Australians understand. But the role gas plays to the 850,000 Australians who work in manufacturing is one we need to continually keep our focus on.

This meeting today is all about kick-starting the discussion between producers and users to make sure we're getting this right.

Creating a Code between suppliers and users led by the industry that can work for both sides and we are working in a way that continues to grow this industry and a deliver an outcome for Australian users as well as overseas users.

Engagement is going to be crucial to get this to work. Part of the engagement needs to be led by us, but really the most important leadership will come from all of you. And this is something I can’t emphasise enough. Our approach as a government when it comes to issues like these is we will only step in if we have to. We prefer not to, we much prefer industry lead.

But we have shown in a number of areas if we can't get the outcome we need, we will step in. That's not something we as good Liberals and Nationals, we must get the industry get to the solution with facilitation as needed by the government, but it is crucially important that we see leadership from everyone who is on this call.

I know there are many who are on the call today who have being playing a really important leadership role in recent weeks and months, and I very much appreciate that.

In regard to the Competition and Consumer Act, let me be very clear: you are not being asked to reach a collective agreement, explicit or otherwise, on prices, market sharing or any other matters that could raise concerns. Nor are you being asked to share commercially sensitive information.

ACCC representatives will monitor discussions from a competition perspective and answer any questions you may have on the Commission’s role regarding voluntary codes.

I also ask that today’s discussions do not stray into any specific contractual, negotiation pricing issues that may be live issues for particular companies.  

It is important that all discussions today are cooperative and productive. Making improvements to and strengthening the gas market will benefit everyone attending today.  It will also benefit millions of Australian households that rely on gas.

Again, I thank you all for making the time in what I know is a very busy and challenging time for everyone.

Media contact:

Minister Taylor's office: 02 6277 7120