It's A Gas

The term “it’s a gas” is derived from the use of helium gas as a public entertainment medium in the early 20th century. It became synonymous with a good laugh when it was used as a dental general anaesthetic in the mid 20th century. “It’s a gas”, a good belly laugh could be used to describe the current energy crisis if it wasn’t so serious. When energy security loomed large as an issue after the South Australian power failures, the Federal government and a bevy of conservative commentators, mostly from the Murdoch media, blamed South Australia’s higher than average renewable energy target as the culprit. The coal lobby and their apologists in the privately owned media and the Federal government had a field day blaming renewable energy as the reason for the looming energy crisis in Australia. The call went out to invest in the coal industry, support fracking and open up open cut coal mines around the country.

Six months later it’s turned out to be one of those classical cases of not letting the facts get in the way of a good story. It’s now apparent it’s an inconvertible truth, Australia’s energy crisis (especially on the East Coast) is due to a local gas crisis. I can see thousands of people scratching their heads and saying “why is it so?” (apologies to Professor Julius Sumner Miller) Well it’s simple, the geniuses in the Liberal/National Party and the Labor Party were so keen to make Australia the world’s number one gas exporter they forgot the need for ensuring that enough gas was set aside for local consumption.

The multinational corporations that were given the green light to develop Australia’s gas supplies in an effort to maximise profits for their major shareholders, entered into a number of lucrative international contracts to supply gas to the world conveniently forgetting they had a moral responsibility to ensure enough gas was left for local consumption. Using the word “moral” when discussing the international workings of a multinational corporation is a bit like driving a stake through a vampire’s heart. No multinational corporation is bound by moral, ethical or national concerns. Their major concern is to create ever increasing profits for their major shareholders, nothing more, nothing less.

To rub salt into an open wound, the intellectual giants that currently sit on the government and cross benches entered into agreements that allowed these very same corporations to not only not set aside gas for local consumption, it also gave them the right to not pay taxes for the next 30 years as well as the right to truckloads of public money to develop these massive gas fields. A win win situation for the corporate sector, a lose lose situation for small business and the public. Next time you open your electricity or gas bill, it’s important you realise why we find ourselves is such a predicament. Until governments at both the State and Federal level begin putting public interests before corporate interests, we will continue to “have a gas” at Australia’s expense every time we enter one of these one sided contracts.

Dr. Joseph Toscano, Sept 24

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