Give me men to match my mountains,
Give me men to match my plains,
Men with freedom in their visions
And creation in their veins.
Sam Walter Foss
Rex Connor could often be heard quoting these lines around parliament house (the old one). As Minister for Minerals and Energy in the Whitlam Labor government of 1972 Connor devised a plan to create a national energy grid and a gas pipe-line across Australia from the North West Shelf gasfields to the cities of the south-east. Rex Connor sought to develop an Australian-controlled mining and energy sector, one not controlled by the foreign owned mining companies he disliked.
Connor needed $2 billion to finance his plan but treasury wouldn’t fund it so he sought to bypass the usual loan raising processes and raise money in the Middle East through an intermediary, a mysterious Pakistani banker called Tirath Khemlani. Had Rex Connor been successful, Sydney and Melbourne would have been powered by natural gas and people would probably have been driving cars powered by Australian gas rather than imported petroleum from the Middle East and elsewhere.
Come forward to the newly appointed Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, has this to say about Australia’s energy crisis:
Very little Rex Connor in that doorstop.
Regular commentator and podcaster, Bevan Ramsden, identifies foreign ownership as being the main cause of the crisis in energy and of economic stress. We post his article here. – Ian Curr Ed., 5 June 2022.
Foreign control and ownership of Australia’s natural gas brings us economic hardship
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.
5 June 2022
Ownership of Woodside Petroleum Ltd