Government rules out new levy on fossil fuel industry

THE federal government has comprehensively ruled out a proposed levy which would see oil and gas companies pay compulsory funds for recovery efforts following the megablaze bushfires still burning across eastern states.
Government rules out new levy on fossil fuel industry Government rules out new levy on fossil fuel industry Government rules out new levy on fossil fuel industry Government rules out new levy on fossil fuel industry Government rules out new levy on fossil fuel industry


Paul Hunt

Deputy Editor: Energy & Commodities

Paul Hunt

The levy was proposed by progressive research and public policy thinktank The Australia Institute (TAI) over the Christmas period.

The Australia Institute called for establishment of a National Climate Disaster Fund, which would be funded through a levy of $1 per tonne of carbon dioxide for all oil and gas produced - raising around $1.5 billion per year at current prices and production levels.

"A levy of $1 per tonne of carbon dioxide is a small fraction of the economic harm caused by the emissions of these activities," the institute said in a report.

However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters yesterday that under no circumstances would the government consider such a levy on the oil and gas sector.

"There will be no levy because (sic) have been assuring that we have (sic) been in a position to deal with matters such as this," Morrison said.

Energy News approached minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan for comment and his office confirmed the government would not consider a levy.

Today the government established a A$2 billion bushfire recovery fund to "support all of the efforts of a recovery right across the country."

"The $2B commitment is in addition, an additional cost, and initial commitment and if further funds are required, further funds will be provided," Morrison said at a press conference today.

The figure is not capped, and the government could make more money available should it be needed.

Despite the government's clear stance, TAI has established a petition which it will deliver to parliament when it next sits.

As of this afternoon the petition has 14,918 signatures.

TAI said it welcomed the government's $2 billion recovery fund, but raised concerns that taxpayers were left bearing the cost.

"Regular Australians should not be forced to pay while fossil fuel producers are being let off scot-free," TAI deputy director Ebony Bennett said this afternoon.

"A modest levy on fossil fuel producers would help to shift the economic burden of these disasters from regular Australians to the coal and gas companies that are fuelling the climate crisis."

In September last year, Woodside Petroleum chief Peter Coleman warned industry that a single "cataclysmic weather event" could sideline Australia's oil and gas sector.

"We should be aware that it would only take one cataclysmic weather event in the developed world, which rightly or wrongly is attributed to climate change, for governments to act in a way that industry may not be ready for," he said at the Gastech conference in Houston.

He said industry could not continue to wait on government and policymakers to take action on climate change, and that industry had been lulled into a false sense of security.

Coleman said individual companies needed to work to cut carbon emissions and take "real steps" to be part of a lower-carbon world. 

 "We as an industry can contribute to a future that is net zero by 2050," he said. 

 "It is important that we do not let our rhetoric get ahead of our actions." 

Coleman warned industry that words would no longer cut it, and that operators now needed to expect third party reviews of emissions reductions in order "to be credible".

Australia's unprecedented bushfire disaster came as Australia became the largest LNG exporter in the world with a total of 77.5 million tonnes sent over 2019.

Australia's ongoing bushfire disaster continued today even as Australia became the world's largest LNG exporter.

Up to 24 people have lost their lives to the blazes, more than 8 million hectares of land have been burned and 500 million animals have perished so far.  

Most read MARKETS