Topics: Warning from foreign investors; Aston by-election;  

04:08PM AEDT
Thursday, 30 March 2023



Kieran Gilbert: Back to federal politics. Joining me in the studio is the Shadow Foreign Minister, Simon Birmingham. Thanks for your time. I know today you attended an event where a senior Japanese official from a major gas investor in this country from Inpex. $60 billion investment in the Northern Territory. It’s a huge player in our Australian gas market. He raised some concerns about the investment environment in Australia. Isn’t that predictable, though, given the recent history of the Government policy on the price cap and so on?


Simon Birmingham: Kieran, I think we have to put this in perspective and quite a bit of perspective here. Inpex is one of the largest and most important foreign investors in Australia. They are a company renowned for their polite, thoughtful engagement and today we had very direct messages from Inpex to the Albanese Government and they should serve as a wake up call to the Albanese Government. That the policies they’ve implemented, particularly their gas market interventions, are creating investor uncertainty in Australia and that means that in the future a company like Inpex and many others will potentially look elsewhere as to where they invest or what they do and indeed the consequences that the Inpex CEO outlined today are that he sees not only it is bad for investor confidence in Australia, but also potentially that it will drive substitution back to coal in the region and they’ll end up with greater use of coal for energy generation across the region so it’s bad for climate change-


Kieran Gilbert: Isn’t it? Isn’t this a business executive talking up their own book?


Simon Birmingham: Well, this is a business that is also deeply committed to playing a leading role in hydrogen development and can and should be playing a big role in helping us get to net zero. But who are saying that the Albanese Government’s policies and interventions in the gas market are going to deter that type of investment and make it harder to get there. And so that means fewer jobs for Australians, less investment in the pathway to net zero and actually a bad outcome on all levels. And this of course is precisely what the Coalition was saying when the Albanese government announced and rammed through their gas market interventions in a one day parliamentary sitting late last year. That it would be catastrophic for investor confidence and that it would create circumstances where Australia would face potential gas shortages in the future that would actually hurt our exports and actually be a hindrance in terms of the [indistinct] economy-


Kieran Gilbert: Don’t you think voters would welcome this in a political sense? I know this executive from the Inpex, a Japanese company, has his concerns, but from Australian voters perspective, it’s an Australian resource. Why shouldn’t we get a reasonable price for it?


Simon Birmingham: Well, we should make sure and government should be making sure there’s sufficient supply and instead the Albanese Government cut a number of programs that were supporting the development of more supply in the Australian market. So what you’ve got here is yes, perhaps the Government playing short term politics, but it’s short term politics that comes with bad long term consequences for Australia. Because this type of investment is what we need to ensure we have the gas to keep prices low domestically, we have the gas to maximise our exports and that we have the investment to successfully transition to net zero.


Kieran Gilbert: Just finally, before you go, I know you’re about to fly home to Adelaide-.


Simon Birmingham: Couple of hours to go.


Kieran Gilbert: The Aston by election this weekend. There’s a lot at stake for Peter Dutton, isn’t it?


Simon Birmingham: Well, every seat in the Australian Parliament is important. In Roshena Campbell we have a cracker of a candidate. I’ve been on the ground with her. The way in which she engages thoughtfully, constructively, considerately with voters is incredible. She is also highly articulate, accomplished woman who will be just such a great attribute and asset to our team. And I certainly hope that she will get here and the next time we meet as a parliament that she is sworn in as the member for Aston and will be a great new contributor for the future.


Kieran Gilbert: Simon Birmingham, thanks.


Simon Birmingham: Thanks, Kieran.