ACTU To Address Energy Policy Vacuum

The ACTU will set up a national energy policy working group as the nation grapples with blackouts in some parts of Australia alongside a looming gas shortage with almost all of our available gas currently shipped off overseas.

ACTU Executive this week agreed to the formation of a national energy policy working group of senior union leaders to develop a labour movement position that can be fed into the debate.

MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said energy policy is central to unions, given the fact the resources sector, heavy manufacturing and other energy-intensive industries rely on union labour.

“The Turnbull Government has been asleep at the wheel on energy policy as evidenced by South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill’s shirtfront on Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg this week,” Mr Crumlin said.

“There are multiple problems of the Government’s creation – we will soon be the world’s biggest exporter of LNG yet we can’t guarantee to keep the lights on at home."

"Add to this the potential job losses from energy-intensive industries such as aluminium smelters and it’s clear we need a domestic gas reservation policy now to protect local jobs.

“On top of that, research released by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) this week found that the Japanese government collects more direct tax on Australian gas than we do in Petroleum Rent Resource Tax (PRRT) so it’s clear the public is being dudded at every turn.

“All of this adds up to a monumental failure of leadership in this country by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg and it’s up to unions and others to chart the way forward."

The resolution moved by Mich-Elle Myers and passed by ACTU Executive reads:

ACTU Executive agrees to the formation of a national energy policy working group of senior union leaders to develop an ACTU energy policy position to inject into the current energy policy debate.

Executive notes that energy policy is central to the trade union agenda for supporting the growth of viable and efficient manufacturing and services employment and output, for the transition to a lower carbon economy, and for the nation’s energy security, including fuel security for households, business, border protection and Defence.

Executive notes that energy policy is closely integrated with the future of the Australian resources sector and the role and power of multi-national energy and resource companies, the development of the renewable energy sector involving the need for a clear pathway for transition away from non-renewable energy sources over the long term and the transportation, storage and distribution of energy.

Executive notes that the Prime Minister is meeting with the chief executives of major gas corporations in a bid to solve a looming energy crisis when it is the Liberal Party and big business that created this problem in the first place and that many oil and gas multinationals such as Chevron pay no tax in Australia whatsoever.

Executive notes that the Japanese government collects more direct tax on Australian gas than we do and that our five new offshore LNG projects are selling their gas overseas at a premium price when Australia is suffering from a domestic shortage with gas prices expected to skyrocket at home.

Executive notes that affiliate campaigns such as Reserve Our Gas and the campaign for the review of the PRRT should feature in the work of this working group and recognises the work done so far to bring these issues to the forefront of the national debate.

Executive notes that domestic gas reservation is very important to protect local manufacturing and avoid a domestic energy crisis while changes to the PRRT are also vital for the Budget in the medium to long term so the nation can properly invest in infrastructure, hospitals and schools.

Executive notes that given that energy policy overarches so many areas of trade union policy, particularly its impact on industry development, jobs and skills, and on household living costs, that it is important that focussed attention be given to an ACTU energy policy to guide trade union participation in the national debate on this issue.