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Gas Subsidies

The former Federal Coalition Government announced up to $4.8B in public subsidies for gas and associated infrastructure and activities as part of its so-called ‘gas-fired recovery’ from September 2020 to May 2022.

These gas subsidies would benefit major multi-national companies including many who do not pay corporate tax and some who have links with dubious foreign figures.

Morison Era Subsidies

A lot of the funds allocated by the Morrison Government were dedicated to the failed technology of ‘carbon capture and storage’ or the promotion of ‘blue’ hydrogen produced from gas. 

These measures are proposed by gas companies to try to obscure their true climate impact and enable new gasfields to be developed instead of switching directly to renewables as is needed.

The announcements also included $1.5B in support for a new plastics and petrochemical hub at Middle Arm in Darwin Harbour fuelled by gas.

Read our full list of Morrison-era fossil fuel subsidies

What’s at risk from unconventional gas?

  • Gas companies are seeking to open up new unconventional gas basins in some of our most precious landscapes including:
    • The Canning Basin in the beautiful Kimberley region of Western Australia
    • The Cooper Basin which stretches across Queensland rivers and floodplains that flow into the Lake Eyre Basin
    • The Beetaloo Basin in the Roper Gulf region around the Roper River and Mataranka Hot Springs in the Territory
    • The Gunnedah Basin covering the Pilliga forest and the Liverpool Plains in north-west NSW.



What are the climate consequences?

  • Methane gas is a potent greenhouse gas which is 84 times more polluting than carbon dioxide over 20 years, posing a severe risk to the climate in the short term.
  • That’s why countries are signing up to the Global Methane Pledge which aims to cut global methane emissions by 30% by 2030.
  • The International Energy Agency has indicated that there should be no new gas developments if the world is to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
  • Estimates of potential annual emissions from opening the four new gas basins shows they could exceed Australia’s current total emissions if developed at scale.

What does that mean for Australians?

  • Pursuing gas projects increases the risks for Australians who are already on the frontline of climate disruption. We are already experiencing unprecedented fires, floods and heatwaves at the ~1.2 degrees additional warming since the Industrial Revolution.
  • To give an example, Alice Springs already has 6 times as many extreme heat days (above 44 degrees) as it did over 1959-1988.
  • The below graph, taken from an NT Government report on climate change impacts in the Territory, illustrates the increase in the number of extreme heat days since 1911.



Time to Stop the Rorts

It seems that the vast majority of gas subsidies from the previous government were announced but not granted. This means there is an opportunity now to ensure they are never granted.

With the new Federal Government seeking to identify financial waste from the previous Morrison Government to repair the budget, there is the opportunity to withdraw gas subsidies that have not been granted as part of the rorts and waste audit.

The Climate Change Bill introduced by the new Federal Government was an important step forward to start the urgent job of reducing Australia’s emissions. Another vital action that can be taken is for them to stop public subsidies to coal and gas companies.