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Source: The Conversation (Au and NZ) – By Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

The outlooks for both local and export supplies of gas are bright for the early months of next year, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission inquiry’s September report.

The inquiry, which provides regular information on east coast supply, says there will be sufficient gas to meet domestic demand as we go into 2024, while exports are predicted to be 9% higher in the first quarter, compared to the same quarter this year.

Even if all uncontracted gas is exported, there will still be an overall east coast surplus of 1.4 petajoules in the first quarter of 2024, according to the report.

It also forecasts gas supply in quarter one 2024 will be 5.9 petajoules above that forecast in June and 13% higher than actual supply in quarter 1 this year.

Export demand in the first quarter next year is projected to be 8.2 petajoules higher than the June forecast or 9% above actual LNG exports in the first quarter of this year.

The report says recent investment in pipeline infrastructure has improved the east coast gas market’s ability to transport gas from the northern states to the southern states, with further upgrades to be ready for next winter.

The brighter outlook for domestic supplies follows actions by the government to ensure companies provide adequate quantities of gas into the local market at reasonable prices.

The ACCC notes its data was collected during “a changing policy environment, including the implementation of the Gas Market Emergency Price Order and consultation on the Gas Market Code of Conduct”.

Under the code, which came into full operation this month,
producers may be exempted from reasonable pricing
requirements in exchange for making domestic supply commitments.

“However, as data was collected before the code was finalised, forecast supply in quarter 1 2024 does not reflect possible supply commitments producers may make to gain an exemption from the code.”

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the data disproved the opposition’s fearmongering claims about the government’s energy price relief plan.

“The Liberals and Nationals voted against energy relief for families and small businesses in the parliament and they said the sky would fall in as result of our price caps and gas code of conduct. This data collected after the government announced action to limit the worst impacts of gas price increases is more proof they have no idea what they’re talking about.”

Chalmers said the plan was designed “to deliver better, fairer prices for Australian consumers at the same time as we honour our trusted role as an energy supplier”. The evidence showed it was working, he said.

He said gas would “play a crucial role in the defining decade ahead as we look deepen and broaden our industrial capacity and make the most of the transformation to cleaner, cheaper energy”.

Employment White Paper released on Monday

The long-awaited employment white paper, prepared by Treasury, will be released on Monday.

The paper will list five objectives. They are delivering sustained and inclusive full employment; promoting job security and strong, sustainable wage growth; reigniting productivity growth; filling skills needs and building the future workforce; and overcoming barriers to employment and broadening opportunities.

It will include a small number of initiatives, and point to future reform directions across ten policy areas. These are:

  • strengthening economic foundations

  • modernising industry and regional policy

  • planning for our future workforce

  • broadening access to foundation skills

  • investing in skills, tertiary education and lifelong learning

  • reforming the migration system

  • building capabilities through employment services

  • reducing barriers to work

  • partnering with communities

  • promoting inclusive, dynamic workplaces.

Chalmers said the white paper “is a roadmap for ensuring more Australians can make the most of the big shifts underway in our economy and society over the coming decades”.

“Today our unemployment rate is around historic lows and the participation rate is near record highs. This positions us well in the face of the immediate challenges of slowing economic growth and continuing global uncertainty, but more needs to be done to shape the future direction of our labour market and put the benefits of employment within reach of more of our people.”

The Conversation

Michelle Grattan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

ref. Bright outlook for local and export gas supplies for early 2024: ACCC –