Lock the Gate Alliance is alarmed at the secrecy behind the development of Energy Minister Angus Taylor’s National Gas Infrastructure Plan (NGIP), as submissions close today on a scanty submission process which appeared more like a call for gas companies to put forward projects they wanted funded.
In Mr Taylor’s words, the NGIP could enable the use of taxpayer funds to “underwrite” gas projects or “a special purpose vehicle with a capped government contribution.”
The NGIP consultation comes at the same time the Morrison Government, with support from Labor, recently passed changes in the Lower House to the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) that would make it easier for fossil fuel projects to receive loans. That could also include projects not based in the north of the country, such as the Hunter Gas Pipeline.
Lock the Gate Alliance National coordinator Carmel Flint said the lack of transparency surrounding the NGIP was astounding.
"Mr Taylor’s NGIP is being developed in secret in his department with chosen consultants," she said.
“The Australian public cannot be expected to have any faith that the Morrison Government is spending its taxpayer dollars wisely with this much secrecy and obscurity surrounding its deeply unpopular and polluting push to expand the fossil gas industry.
“This process is opaque, with no terms of reference or criteria against which the government will assess how public money should be allocated or priorities determined. This looks like the government is setting up another mechanism to bankroll multinational gas companies.
“AEMO’s Integrated System Plan for electricity was developed at arm’s length - but the NGIP is completely contained within Mr Taylor’s own department.
“These big gas companies do not care about farmers whose land and water is at risk from new gas projects, or Traditional Owners who oppose projects on their country, or Australian manufacturers who are paying stupidly high prices for gas.
“With our COVID-impacted economy, every cent of public money is precious. The proposed gas infrastructure plan seems like nothing more than a big sack of money that gas companies can profit from, and it is Australian tourism, arts, universities and agriculture that will miss out as a result."