by Bevan Ramsden
The major exporter of Australia’s natural gas is Woodside Petroleum Ltd which is 64% owned by United States investors. They effectively control what percentage of Australia’s natural gas goes to the domestic market and what percentage is exported.
Three quarters of Australia’s natural gas is exported yet the new government is predicting a natural gas shortage with a drastic increase of gas prices. Yet Australia (the foreign owners actually) has become the major natural gas exporter in the world.
Why then should they be allowed to short- change the Australian domestic market and cause shortages and price increases?
According to The Conversation, 17th February, 2020, Australia gets paid for gas mined from under its waters by the “petroleum resource rent tax” set up by the Hawke government in 1988.
But payments peaked at around A$2.5 billion in 2000-01. They are now less than half that, and much lower still as a share of the economy and as a share of gas exported.
Qatar, which exports the about the same amount of gas as Australia, is said to have got more than A$20 billion in 2018.
Foreign ownership takes away from the government any ability to control the mix between export and domestic market, disables the government from controlling the unnecessary development of this resource when climate change requires a movement away from fossil fuel energy and also deprives the Australian people and government of a decent return in revenue for the extraction of this Australian-owned resource.