Victorian election debate raises fraccing questions

LAST night’s election debate between sitting premier Daniel Andrews and Liberal opposition leader Matthew Guy featured energy policy prominently given record high gas prices in the state.
Victorian election debate raises fraccing questions Victorian election debate raises fraccing questions Victorian election debate raises fraccing questions Victorian election debate raises fraccing questions Victorian election debate raises fraccing questions

Paul Hunt

Deputy Editor: Energy & Commodities

Paul Hunt

Victoria will go to the polls on Saturday with Labor seeking a third term for the Andrews government. Labor has already held 19 years of the last 23 in government. 

With gas prices at record highs, both the premier and opposition leader were at pains to hit home their plans to reduce energy costs for consumers. 

Spot gas prices are being offered at premiums as high as $65 per gigajoule on the east coast according to findings from the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission. 

On Tuesday night the state government and opposition put their pitch on lowering energy prices to a public audience. 

"Do it 100% renewable," premier Andrews said. 

"If we allow the private sector to do the wheeling and dealing here, then they'll look after their shareholders. 

"I'm not blaming them for that. That's their job. But the job of government is to look after all our citizens and make sure we have enough power for the future - because if there's no electricity, there's no economy."

The Labor government, if re-elected, will establish a new state-owned renewable electricity generator. 

Victoria previously had such a company - the State Electricity Commission - which was then privatised in the mid-to-late 1990s. 

If Andrews wins another term, his government will create a nee SEC which will be majority owned by the state. 

It will create 59,000 new jobs according to the premier. 

Meanwhile, opposition leader Guy said he would boost onshore conventional gas exploration and development. 

The Labor party has been running campaign advertisements claiming Guy would allow fraccing in the state. 

Andrews doubled down on the debate stage accusing the Liberals of allowing fraccing.

Guy categorically ruled this out. 

"The chief scientist has made it very clear, not just in one report, but two, that there are no reserves of gas known or probable, onshore that can be extracted using conventional methods," Andrews said. 

"The only way to do it is to fracc, and I don't think that's good for our wine country, our dairy country or our pristine natural environment."

The opposition leader said he ruled out allowing unconventional gas development "so many times at press conferences" and insinuated the government was running a scare campaign against his party.

"We're not going to fracc. We don't need to fracc," Guy said. 

"The government's own report say (sic) there is 830 petajoules of gas which exists without having to fracc." 

Andrews then claimed the state's chief scientist said there was no conventional gas onshore. 

"She made it very clear there were no known or probable sources of gas that could be extracted without unconventional methods," Andrews claimed. 

Guy, however, is correct. 

The current Labor government's own Victorian Gas Program has identified prospective onshore reserves of between 128-830 PJ. 

This though would only last Victoria's annual gas consumption for about four years. 

Victoria consumes 200PJ per annum. 

The Victorian government does not that onshore conventional gas could provide "an important boost to local supplies which will help lower prices and prevent shortfalls."