Media Releases - 09 May 2024

Albanese’s copy of Morrison’s “gas-fired recovery” won’t save ailing gas industry but does make Australia’s climate transition harder

The Munga-Thirri/Simpson Desert landscape is still vulnerable to gas development. Image: Matthew Turner

The Wilderness Society condemns the Albanese Government’s “future gas strategy” for putting the interests of the world’s fossil fuel companies ahead of a safe climate for all and the protection of Australia’s unique and world-class natural environment.

The gas industry should be on notice that this government bail-out package is not going to stop the industry’s inevitable decline and will fail to turn around the record low investment in projects. As was the case with Morrison’s “gas fired recovery”, today’s announcement will not magically address the fossil fuel industry’s absence of a social licence, or the structural decline of the gas sector.

The bail-out package also poses immense threats to the rights of the public to a fair say in environmental decision-making, and the cultural and self-determination rights of First Nations people. Australia's lack of genuine community involvement in environmental decision-making is driving the twin climate and wildlife extinction crises, destroying globally important ecosystems, and leaving Australians to suffer the consequences.

Tim Beshara, Manager of Policy and Strategy at the Wilderness Society says, “Australia’s fossil fuel industries are past their use-by date and bailing them out ignores the need for Australians to have a safe climate.

“The Morrison Government tried to bail out the industry with its reprehensible “gas-fired recovery” launched in response to Covid-19 and it didn’t stop the industry’s decline. It’s an error by the Albanese Government to direct resources away from the necessary energy transition, towards propping up an industry that is completely misaligned with Australia’s national interest.

“Australia’s natural environment is on a precipice of decline from both climate change and deforestation. The Federal government needs to move Australia away from fossil fuels to increase the likelihood of helping wildlife like koalas, gliders and numbats to beat extinction, and to respect and protect living cultural landscapes vulnerable to gas destruction—like Munga-Thirri/Simpson Desert and Martuwarra/Fitzroy River.

“The Albanese Government is attempting to give public relations cover to a “future gas industry” when there simply isn’t more gas that is aligned with a climate that is safe for nature and people.

“This so-called strategy dangerously perpetuates the farce that dumping carbon pollution below the seafloor is viable. This government seems to think it’s ok to invest money in scientific research to identify new fossil fuel reserves at a time when it needs to be ruling out public money to support fossil fuels..

“The Albanese Government is tying its political fortunes to a declining bad-faith industry that operates in a regulatory system that does not ensure a fair say for communities, and that attempts to trample on clear opposition from First Nations groups such as the Gomeroi. The Government would do well to remember that tying itself to fossil fuel interests like this worked out badly for the Morrison Government and is part of the undertow bringing down the Sunak government in the UK.

“The Albanese Government needs to get on with the critical reforms of the nation’s environment law, to protect nature and people—not pick up a Morrison-era fossil fuel relic in a colossal waste of time, and money.”

Please contact Rhiannon Cunningham, media adviser for the Wilderness Society on [email protected] or 0419 992 760