Ferguson sings from the song sheet, protestors don't

ENERGY Minister Martin Ferguson may have outlined a “hard-headed, no frills assessment” of Australia’s energy future yesterday, but there was a song and dance number.
Ferguson sings from the song sheet, protestors don't Ferguson sings from the song sheet, protestors don't Ferguson sings from the song sheet, protestors don't Ferguson sings from the song sheet, protestors don't Ferguson sings from the song sheet, protestors don't

Federal Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson

James McGrath

Delivering a speech at a CEDA function in Melbourne, Ferguson was interrupted by a pair of protestors keen to make a point about climate change.

“I’d like to thank you for being a puppet of the fossil fuel industry,” one of the protestors said.

“It’s a marvellous outcome that people can drink gas and water from the same tap.”

The pair then launched into a song seemingly titled “Don’t Worry About that Global Warming”

The interruption marred Ferguson’s delivery of the long-awaited energy white paper; the last white paper was penned by the John Howard-led government in 2004.

Ferguson said the white paper was needed in light of the changes in Australia’s energy future and the challenges in delivering that future.

He outlined the changes, saying that Australia’s trade in LNG had increased four-fold, while 20% of the nation’s domestic gas was now sourced from coal seam gas.

There has also been change since the government delivered the draft white paper last year, with the closure of refineries and downward forecasts in energy demand impacting on the immediate challenges facing the energy sector.

However, Ferguson said the white paper was a forward-looking strategic document.

“The role of this energy white paper is not about spending measures in response to the immediate debate,” he told the audience.

He said the white paper contained four essential elements:

The need for energy markets across the country to be underpinned by consistent regulation;

Ensuring that Australia “is the No. 1 destination for resource development”

Developing Australia’s gas resources; and

Ensuring Australia’s clean energy future “over time in a way that does not impede Australia’s economic competitiveness”

He also touched on the tightening conditions in the east coast gas market, calling it the new reality and rejecting calls for a domestic gas reservation policy.

“It is the government’s view that this is best achieved by open and efficient markets … intervention policies are not the way forward,” Ferguson said, while pointing to the US shale story as an example of what Australia could expect if the industry was allowed to develop.

“Interventions such as reservation policies ... are more likely to impede than promote supply.”

He also touched on the need for an “informed” debate on Australia’s energy future and called for both the upstream and downstream industries to step up their game in this regard.

“Australia must have a mature, candid and on-going public dialogue about our energy future,” he said.

He also said that Australia could not afford to miss out on the opportunity provided by its abundant reserves of gas due to a “lack of education”

This article first appeared in ILN's sister publication EnergyNewsPremium.net

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