CANBERRA, AAP – The gas industry supply chain directly employs one in 54 working Australians and is critical for the viability of many regional communities, according to a report released on Tuesday.
Just over 165,000 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs are directly supported as well as about 47,000 businesses, the research by Australian Economic Advocacy Solutions for the Australian Gas Industry Trust (AGIT) said.
Australia’s gas infrastructure was found to be well placed to decarbonise residential and commercial gas use by adopting hydrogen.
But while hydrogen is already produced commercially, its current role has been limited as a feedstock and not as an end use fuel in appliances.
The study released by the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) found the gas industry generates $55 billion in direct economic activity and contributes $18.2 billion into federal, state and local government coffers in taxes, rates, fees and royalties annually.
One in every 54 Australian workers relies on gas for their income, earning an average annual salary of $90,200, compared to the national average wage of $67,902, the report said.
“I don’t think people really have an appreciation or idea of the breadth of how gas touches their lives,” Cooper Energy operations manager Dean Johnson said.
“All of our gas goes into pipeline gas so when you turn your barbecue on or your kitchen cooktop you are enjoying the fruits of our work,” MrJohnson said.
The importance of gas to Australia as an energy source has increased over the past two decades and now comprises 27.8 per cent of Australia’s total energy consumption.
This growth is considered a key component of Australia’s goal of reducing the carbon intensity of our economy and helping Australia reduce its carbon emissions, the report said.
Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor says Australia is absolutely committed to continuing to support the energy and emissions-reduction needs of our region as a global LNG exporter.
But the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) says Australians need to be able to challenge the “pervasive greenwashing of gas”, which should not be seen as vital for a transition to a low carbon economy.
The shareholder activist organisation’s Facts over Fiction report, also released on Tuesday, found gas to be an expensive source of electricity generation, more expensive than renewable electricity and increasingly less competitive than battery storage.
“The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association has been one of the chief promoters of these claims, and investors should call for an end to its damaging advocacy altogether,” ACCR research director Dan Gocher said.
Gas trust spokeswoman Jen Thompson said three cents in every dollar of economic activity in Australia can be linked to the gas supply chain, which is enabling $470 billion in economic activity every year.
Western Australia had the most direct jobs at almost 69,000 FTE roles, followed by Queensland at over 31,000, Victoria at almost 29,000, NSW with about 14,000 and NT and SA with about 11,000 jobs each.
Another 95,000 jobs nationally are indirectly supported by the supply chain – meaning a total of just over 260,000 jobs across Australia are directly and indirectly are supported in total, the report said.
About 2200 young Australians were supported in gas industry apprenticeships and traineeships in the last financial year.