What is the federal government’s Gas-Fired Recovery Plan? At its most base level it appears to be a series of taxpayer subsidies to export-focused gas companies. The process for allocating these subsidies is secretive, with no publicly available criteria, or even policy documents answering many of the basic questions of what the plan is aiming to achieve and how.
The gas-fired recovery will create few jobs, particularly in the near term when jobs are most needed. The gas industry is a tiny employer, employing only 0.2 percent of the Australian workforce, and it is one of the least labour-intensive industries in Australia. It employs around 0.4 people per million dollars of output, compared to more than 10 jobs for the equivalent output in health or education. If creating jobs is the objective, supporting virtually any other industry would be more effective.
If the government was really serious about reducing energy costs for Australians, it would assist households and businesses to switch from gas to electricity and speed up the roll-out of renewable energy.
The government should set undertake a credible and thorough policy development process that begins with explaining and clarifying what the Gas-Fired Recovery plan aims to achieve. This should include: whether it will reduce energy prices, including gas prices, and if so, how and by how much; how this plan compares to other ways energy prices could be lowered such as by expanding renewable energy, energy efficiency and electrification; and how jobs will be created, how many, when and at what cost compared to alternative job creation programs.