AWU to intensify campaign for Australian gas reservation scheme

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The Australian Worker’s Union (AWU) will intensify its lobbying efforts over the course of the year and take its proposal for national gas reservation to the 2015 ACTU Congress and then on the floor of the ALP National Conference.

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AWU’s National Secretary Scott McDine said that the campaigning efforts would be directed towards establishing broader union support for the policy at the 2015 ACTU Congress, adding that AWU would then use that momentum to take the policy to the floor of the ALP Conference later in the year.

The union’s gas reservation scheme calls for Australia to follow the example of all other gas-exporting nations and introduce legislation to ensure some of its own gas is reserved for domestic use at a domestic price, before export is allowed.

Speaking at the union’s biennial national conference on the Gold Coast on Monday, Mr McDine said that the nation needs gas reservation to save it from crippling job losses and household budget damage.

“Remember how much the Liberals banged on about the impact the carbon tax would have on energy prices? And keep in mind that was a lift of 15% or less. Today we are talking about a 300% rise in gas prices. Every other major gas exporting nation on the planet has addressed this problem with some form of domestic gas reservation,” Mr McDine told an audience of 400 AWU delegates.

“It is a simple and fair concept. The gas-rich nation tells the gas exporters, ‘Yes, you can extract, yes you can export it – but you have to reserve some for us at a reasonable price.” Israel, Indonesia, the USA, Canada, Egypt, Norway – all have laws that ensure their gas reserves work for them and not against them. We are the only gas-rich nation that allows multinationals to completely destroy our massive national advantage of affordable natural gas.”

He said the union will pressure all parties to get behind the gas reservation scheme.

“If politicians of any stripe are looking for the kind of policy that breaks with the old order and puts the interests of working Australians back where it belongs – well, they should look no further than to change our national policy on gas.”

Mr McDine also added that the union campaign was aimed at balancing out all aspects of the country’s economy.

“The Australian Workers’ Union is 100% behind a successful gas export industry. We want to see it thrive. But what we will never support is allowing one sector of our economy to suck the lifeblood out of all the others. We should never sacrifice whole chunks of our economy – hundreds of thousands of jobs – just because a small group of foreign gas exporters tells us we have no choice,” said Mr McDine.

A full transcript of Scott McDine’s speech is available here: