The Port Kembla Port Unions Committee is calling for an Australian jobs guarantee in construction, shipping, surface transport and operations at New South Wales’ first LNG import terminal following the announcement this week that the Illawarra is the preferred site.
The construction phase of the import terminal is expected to generate around 150 jobs with an additional 40-50 ongoing roles in plant operations as part of the $300 million project that could supply 70 per cent of the state’s future gas needs and be operational by 2020.
But with the new facility expected to receive LNG tankers every two to three weeks, there are concerns that all of the gas will be sourced from overseas rather than locally and this would mean fewer local jobs in the long term.
Port Kembla Port Unions Committee spokesman Mick Cross said: “Australia is on track to be the world’s biggest producer of LNG by 2019 and we shouldn’t have to rely on importing gas when we have the ability to be completely self-sufficient in a resource that belongs to the Australian people.
“The construction phase will undoubtedly boost the local economy in the short term but unions want to ensure there are long term jobs for the region in shipping and surface transport as well as plant operations.
“There is no logical reason why Australia should not produce its own gas, transport it to areas of need and then use it for the benefit of local consumers and industries at an affordable price.
“The fact that we will be the world’s biggest producer in the next few years and have to look to import – perhaps even buying our own gas back from Japan – is a complete market failure and a national embarrassment.
“Instead, we should be looking at self reliance in production and transport of our own energy – a solution that not only supports the industries, businesses and consumers at home but also goes part of the way to improving upon a completely susceptible and vulnerable energy security policy.”
Fortescue Metals chairman Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest is heading the project group known as Australian Industrial Energy, that also includes Japanese energy giants JERA and Marubeni and Australia’s Squadron Energy.
The new gas terminal is an alternative to the proposed $5 billion pipeline to connect the Western Australian gas market – which has a domestic reservation policy – to the east coast – which has no reserve policy. Unions have long sought a national domestic gas reservation policy.
Since export facilities were placed into the east coast market at Queensland’s Curtis Island in 2012, domestic gas supply has dwindled, with domestic prices now triple the historical average.
The high price of gas has played a significant role in driving up electricity prices and the problem has become so severe that the Turnbull government has threatened to put in place a domestic reserve and cut export levels.
“The proposed terminal now needs state government approval before construction can begin and it is up to the Berejiklian Government to deliver secure, long term jobs for the Illawarra in addition to affordable gas for consumers and businesses across the state,” Cross said.