Scott Bacon calls on Matthew Groom to resolve gas contract 'crisis'

Matthew Groom MP

Matthew Groom MP

Opposition energy spokesman Scott Bacon has called on Energy Minister Matthew Groom to resolve the state’s supposed gas contract crisis, as the Council of Australian Governments Energy Council meeting wrapped up in Brisbane.

Mr Groom attended the meeting on Friday, along with federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg and state and territory ministers.

There, the ministers discussed the planned implementation of the Australian Domestic Gas Security Mechanism, which will serve to restrict exports on liquefied natural gas in times of domestic shortages.

They also agreed for the Australian Energy Market Operator to administer the Capacity Trading Platform and the Day-Ahead Auction, making it easier for gas contractors to trade excess supply.

Moreover, the assembled ministers doubled down on their commitment to advancing the Commonwealth’s Gas Acceleration Program, an initiative that will endeavour to provide further gas to Australia’s East Coast within three years.

It was noted at the COAG meeting that the council was making progress with its Gas Supply Strategy.

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The GSS is designed to facilitate greater collaboration between jurisdictions on the issue of gas supply, particularly in respect of regulatory and scientific issues arising from onshore gas supply.

There has been a stoush recently over this state’s gas contracts, as Hydro Tasmania’s negotiations for a new gas supply contract with the Tasmanian Gas Pipeline have stalled.

The disagreement could see major industrial users experiencing a 95 per cent hike in gas transportation prices, TGP says.

Mr Bacon claimed “hundreds of jobs” were on the line.

“Negotiations between Hydro and TGP have broken down but COAG is yet to sign off on an arbitration process to resolve disputes,” he said.

“Not only does COAG need to agree to an arbitration process – it needs to be put in place urgently.

“Time is running out for major industrials to get a long-term deal locked in.”

In the wake of the dispute, Mr Groom has previously said that the government stood in solidarity with the major industrials.

“We … will continue to do everything we can in partnership with them to ensure Tasmania's interests are fully protected,” he said.

“The suggestion of major job losses is completely baseless.”

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