LEAN National Co-convener, Felicity Wade's full comments on gas, October 30, 2020.
“LEAN has watched dismayed over recent months as debates that should be had inside the party have played out on the pages of the country’s newspapers. Most recently people have leaked shadow cabinet approved talking points to stir up the culture war on gas. This is a bridge too far," said LEAN National Co-convener Felicity Wade. "We are in the midst of a process to finalise the Labor Party's National Policy Platform. LEAN is consulting broadly and members across the country are speaking loud and clear about their concerns about new gas developments. People are scared by the experience of last summer's fires and confused by a debate that hides the complexity in posturing."
“It felt like it was time we stood up for our constituency and for the millions of Australians who expect Labor to not only defend working people’s livelihoods and jobs but to protect them from a changing climate.
"We know gas has a role across our energy and manufacturing sectors. It is not going away anytime soon. We also know high gas prices are making things tough for key industries, particularly manufacturing. Gas has a continuing role in the electricity sector and will be part of the firming for a renewable powered grid, but as AEMO has pointed out, it will be about 1% of our electricity production over the next decades. None of this is contested.
"LEAN does not believe that the answer to supply issues and sky-high prices is new gas fields. Market reform and regulatory change need to fix these things. It is continuing policy failure by the Morrison Government that has led to the situation where gas companies are making a killing exporting our gas and crippling us domestically. This is where governments have to do better. What's more, unconventional gas is hugely expensive to produce and deeply unpopular in regional Australia - it's fanciful to suggest these new projects will bring down prices.
"The simple truth is that gas is not a transition fuel. It is a fossil fuel. The moment for that transition is past. We missed that window and technology has caught up. While gas is important to our economy today, our policies must focus on increasing efficiencies and switching away from gas onto new technologies as fast as we can.
"Morrison set a trap by talking up gas, and my party walked straight into it. He is good at that. He is good at games, bad at policies and outcomes. Until Labor can walk and chew gum on the complexities of backing working people and their jobs as well as acting to arrest climate change Morrison and his cronies will get away with murder. Labor has to hold both these truths.
"If my Labor comrades believe we can win an election by just looking backwards they misunderstand the Australian electorate and more tragically they misunderstand the direction of the Australian and global economy. Fighting to the death for sunset industries does not a smart country make. We have to work harder to convince working communities that we have their backs - in word and deed - but there are better ways of doing it than simply spruiking for Santos and Origin."