If the National Gas Infrastructure Program intends to be taken seriously by either the market or the electorate, then it must grapple with the considerable weight of evidence that the overarching work program has been wrong-headed from the outset.
If it is true that the National Gas Infrastructure Plan is intended to replicate the good work of the Australian Energy Market Operator in its biennial Integrated System Plans, but for the gas sector – as the Prime Minister has claimed previously – then the processes used for the ISP should be replicated for the NGIP. This includes, opening up the NGIP, and its assumptions, to the scrutiny of Australia’s considerable body of energy experts. The ISP is a model that would deliver the best possible outcome for Australia’s energy users by allowing their voices to be heard at multiple stages of the scoping, design, modelling and reality-testing process. It does not appear that the NGIP intends to follow any of these steps.
As a result – as currently designed – the NGIP cannot deliver meaningful outcomes for either consumers or the climate.
Recommendation 1. To lower the price of energy in Australia and increase productivity – bringing new jobs and new industries while increasing the resilience of the Australian economy – the Federal Government should focus on modelling and incentivising gas demand reduction measures, increasing energy productivity and electrification of industry gas users. Given the immense quantities of gas shipped overseas each year, there is no need to increase the supply of gas for domestic users.
Recommendation 2. It is unacceptable that a plan of this significance is developed behind closed doors. If the NGIP intends to replicate the successes of the ISP, it must replicate its processes. The NGIP must be opened up to the full body of expert advice by allowing full transparency and proper consultation.
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