Exploring for oil and gas offshore is a delicate matter. If something goes wrong, it can result in tremendous damage to the marine environment.
But when done properly the impact is minimal compared to the benefits. And in today’s energy hungry world, banning gas exploration — whether onshore or off — is not the mark of a responsible government.
Surprisingly, Bill Shorten may have cottoned on to this. Shorten says it’s worth considering exploring offshore gas in Victoria, amid the ongoing debate over rising power prices.
Mr Shorten also praised Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner for developing safeguards around hydraulic fracturing, after the territory lifted a ban on the controversial practice to access onshore gas this year.
‘I think the Northern Territory is the most promising source of new gas development,’ he told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday.
Victoria’s Labor government last year banned onshore gas exploration in the state.
‘I certainly think conventional gas offshore is worth considering, but I’m not here to run the state of Victoria,’ Mr Shorten said.
Mr Shorten says the energy issue in Australia is ‘very complex, there is no silver bullet’, but he wants Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government to back renewable energy.
‘When you have more renewables, you have lower jobs and lower energy prices,’ Mr Shorten said.
The federal government is focusing on lowering electricity prices and says it will not renew or replace the Renewable Energy Target when it lapses in 2020.
Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor last week announced gas and electricity retailers will have to give customers at least five days’ notice before changing prices.
Mr Taylor is working to implement other recommendations from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, primarily the introduction of a price safety net and increasing competition in the sector.
‘Setting a competitive default price for electricity is one of the most effective measures to drive down power bills,’ he said in a statement on Thursday.
‘Establishing a common benchmark price will also increase transparency and customers switching.’
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The Australian Tribune with AAP