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Discussion paper

Australia’s purported 'gas-fired recovery' is based on a claim that increasing Australian gas production will benefit the manufacturing industry and, presumably, jobs in manufacturing. This claim is not supported by data or recent experience - from the mid-1980s to 2013 Australia had abundant, low-cost gas, but saw manufacturing employment steadily declined. Australian fossil gas production tripled from 1990 to 2010, and then almost tripled again to 2019, yet gas prices in eastern Australia tripled and manufacturing jobs declined.

Clearly, more gas does not necessarily lead to more employment in manufacturing.

Key findings:

  • 82% of Australian gas production goes to exports. Only 1% of gas produced in Australia is used for feedstock in Australian manufacturing.
  • The LNG export industry used 12 times as much gas as the entire manufacturing industry.
  • More gas is used just running gas export terminals than used by Australia’s entire manufacturing industry, more than twice the amount used by Australian households.
  • The LNG export industry uses forty times the amount of gas as used by the chemical, polymer and rubber manufacturing industry.
  • LNG exports employ only 4 workers for every petajoule of gas used, compared to around 760 workers per petajoule used in chemical and mineral processing manufacturing.
  • Most manufacturing workers work in sectors that use little if any gas. Three quarters of gas used in Australian manufacturing is used by sectors that employ only 17% of the manufacturing workforce. 60% of manufacturing jobs are in sectors that use just 10% of total manufacturing gas consumption.
  • Australian manufacturing employment has declined since the mid-1980s when Australia had cheap abundant gas and have continued to decline as gas production has tripled over the last decade.


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