LEAN Open letter on the Future Gas Strategy

13 May 2024


Dear Prime Minister

The announcement of the Future Gas Strategy has caused distress across the membership of the Labor Environment Action Network. We have, in recent days, seen the biggest outpouring of anger from LEAN members over a Labor policy since 2013.

The Strategy’s overt support for new gas fields is the core of the problem for LEAN and its members. We know that gas will continue to have a role in firming the electricity grid, that it is essential for our manufacturers and that we must honour contracts with our trading partners. But the Strategy entirely failed to consider the full suite of future scenarios and policies that might negate the need for new gas fields including our trading partners’ decarbonisation commitments, demand side policies (including cost of living relief by supporting homes with solar, batteries and fuel shifting) and even possible options for importing our own gas back, having sold off our nation’s resource wealth unwisely. The sectoral plans will address these issues and this Strategy should have been released in the context of those plans to avoid the impression that the Government will champion new supply without efforts to decarbonise faster, by managing down demand.

LEAN members are the core of the Party’s volunteer base. They fill the rosters for phone banking, door knocking, street stalls and handing out how to vote cards. They do this because they believe the Labor Party will continue its proud history of delivering good environmental and climate policy. They have worked hard to support MPs, defending Labor’s principled but practical approach. We can’t ask our people to do this uncomfortable work unless they believe it. This Strategy has undermined their confidence in the Party’s commitment to climate action. It has overshadowed all of the Government’s considerable achievements in accelerating the shift to renewables in electricity, managing industrial emissions and committing to clean energy manufacturing.

Prior to the 2023 ALP National Conference, LEAN worked through a long negotiation process,  to secure a good platform position that was acceptable to all stakeholders, including from all parts of the union movement. The current Platform removed the Party’s explicit support for new gas supply and focused on the path to decarbonisation of the Australian and global economies.  It recognises the continued role of gas and the long path of transition without jumping to an embrace of gas solutions.

 The Future Gas Strategy’s support for new gas supply makes no sense without a more sophisticated scenario model of gas demand, including impacts of decarbonisation and options for managing down demand. And it runs directly contrary to the spirit of the platform outcome.

Your and the Treasurer’s recent assurances that public subsidies will not be applied to gas projects were welcome but insufficient. This should also apply to infrastructure projects such as Middle Arm if they are dependent on gas.

 We urge the Government to do the following to assure our members and the Australian people that you are not resiling from Australia’s commitment to climate action:

  1.  Commit to applying the criteria identified by the Climate Change Authority when assessing any new fossil fuel supply proposal, namely that it:
    • Does not lock in emissions
    • Does not create stranded assets and
    • Does not delay or raise the costs of decarbonisation
  2. Commit to intensifying and accelerating efforts, including with the states and territories, to reduce domestic demand for gas, including through fuel switching, energy efficiency and electrification.
  3. Commit to working with trading partners to accelerate their decarbonisation efforts with a view to reducing their demand for Australian fossil fuel exports and building demand for Australian clean energy based exports.


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