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Question that stumped Energy Minister

Summary

Angus Taylor was in Gladstone on Tuesday to spruik the government’s plan to splash $50m to accelerate seven gas projects amid concerns of a looming supply gap. But his press conference took a turn when a local reporter pressed him on just how many jobs the investment would create. “Well, there’s 1000s of jobs now that will be destroyed if you don’t have an affordable supply of gas,” Mr Taylor responded. Undeterred, the journalist continued: “You’re not answering the question. Will it create extra jobs?”“Absolutely. It’ll create new jobs. So you get more gas, you’ll get more jobs,” Mr Taylor added before ending the doorstop. Earlier, Mr Taylor argued that Australia could soon find itself in the same position as Europe or Asia if it did not act to increase storage and supply. His comments followed that of the competition watchdog, which flagged Australia’s east coast gas market could face a supply shortage from 2024. ACCC commissioner Anna Brakey told the Australian Domestic Gas Outlook conference that the “rapid and significant reduction” in supply from domestic LNG producers was a major concern. “Gas companies assured governments that there was sufficient supply and that domestic gas prices wouldn’t go up, but it hasn’t turned out that way,” she said. “The ACCC believes governments and market participants must do more to ensure there is enough supply of gas. This has become even more urgent because of how bleak the picture is globally.”Asked about LNG producers’ decision to export supply, Mr Taylor said Australia had more than enough gas. “We’ve got these export terminals … essentially full. We’ve got more than enough for our domestic needs,” he said in Gladstone. Meanwhile, in Darwin, a parliamentary inquiry into a contentious proposal to open the Beetaloo basin to oil and gas producers was told that millions of dollars to fund consultation with traditional owners had gone missing. Northern Land Council manager Greg McDonald told the committee that he had heard that $2m would be provided to assist on-country consultation over three years. “We do not yet have a funding agreement,” he told the committee. “We have received some correspondence by email as to the particular reasons for the delay. I think we will have to take that on notice. I cannot recall the specifics.”Earlier this month, Resources Minister Keith Pitt said the government had committed the funds but did not provide a timeline on its delivery. NCA NewsWire understands the funding was part a larger pool of funding set aside for the Beetaloo basin in last year’s budget. Nurrdalinji Native Title Aboriginal Corporation chair Johnny Wilson accused the NLC of not listening to traditional land owners opposed to gas exploration or production on-country. “We want to make decisions for ourselves on our country. We do not want fracking full stop,” he said.

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