Making News
Morrison’s gas plan is a real stinker, say critics

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The Federal Government’s plan for a “gas-fired recovery” has been slammed as retrograde and a slap in the face to science by the Save Westernport group. Group steering committee member Jane Carnegie also said the plan was “ideologically focused” and completely unnecessary.

Ms Carnegie was commenting after Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week announced that gas would underpin the economy as part of the Government’s JobMaker plan. The wide-ranging plan involves rebooting the east coast gas market and creating a more competitive Australian gas hub by ‘unlocking’ gas supply and delivering an efficient pipeline and transportation market. The Government indicated it would move to unlock five key gas basins, starting with the Beetaloo Basin in the NT and the North Bowen and Galilee Basin in Queensland.

The Climate Council branded the plan as a “bad bet” on a dangerous fossil fuel. “The Federal Government is trying to shore up the gas industry, which is in a poor financial state,” said Climate Council member Greg Bourne. “Meanwhile, the rest of the world is decarbonising. The economic and technological winds of change are driving us towards a renewables-led future – that is where private sector investment dollars are going.”

Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie added: “To reduce emissions, reduce power prices, create jobs and reboot Australia’s economy, we need investment in clean, affordable, reliable renewable energy and storage technologies.”

Save Westernport has been leading the fight against a proposal by AGL and APA for a gas import jetty and pipeline at Crib Point. The proposal features:

• A floating storage and regasification unit at Crib Point jetty, infrastructure including marine loading arms and gas piping on the jetty, and a receiving facility on land next to the jetty; and,
• A 57km underground pipeline to transport gas from Crib Point to Pakenham.

The State Government has set up an advisory committee to consider the environmental effects statement, planning scheme amendments and works approval application. Public hearings are due to start on October 12 and run for 10 weeks. The committee will then make a recommendation to Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne.

Ms Carnegie said the environmental impacts of the Crib Point plan would be devastating. “It’s like putting a huge factory in the middle of Uluru or the Great Barrier Reef,” she said. “Western Port has international significance and its wetlands are so precious. The last thing people want to see is further industrialisation of this area.”

AGL said the project would help to meet a shortfall in gas supply from 2024 that had been predicted by the Australian Energy Market Operator. It added this would provide gas supply certainty to Victoria, NSW and South Australia while balancing economic, social and environmental factors.

However, a Mornington Peninsula Shire Council Facebook poll recently revealed that 93 per cent of residents were against AGL’s plan for Crib Point. In response to the question ‘Do you support the proposed AGL and APA Gas import Jetty and Pipeline project at Crib Point?’, 1932 people voted ‘no’ and 131 people voted ‘yes’.

Mayor Sam Hearn said the overwhelming response from the community reflected the council’s position that the project posed an unacceptable risk to the environment. “The combination of Ramsar wetlands, migratory bird habitat, the UNESCO Western Port Biosphere Reserve and our special marine and coastal environment all add up to a unique mix of elements far too valuable to risk,” Cr Hearn said.

The council recently voted to oppose the project in its submission to the State Government regarding the proposal’s EES. The submission can be viewed here, with more information on the project available here.

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