Gas fields could become more prominent in the Galilee Basin under Bill Shorten’s $1.5 billion plan.
Gas fields could become more prominent in the Galilee Basin under Bill Shorten’s $1.5 billion plan.

Shorten ignites $1.5b gas plan in bid to win war on coal

BILL Shorten will kill off the embattled $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility and divert $1.5 billion to unlock gas reserves in the Galilee Basin.

The Opposition Leader's plan to redirect the funds is in part an overture to the marginal LNP seats of Flynn and Capricornia, which are fighting Labor on the coal wars.

Mr Shorten will honour more than $1 billion in projects already announced under the NAIF but repurpose about $3 billion into a new fund. It has previously announced it will siphon $1 billion out of the NAIF for Northern Australia tourism projects.

Labor will today lampoon the NAIF for being a "failure" with "half of the board members... donors to the LNP".

"Labor's Northern Australia Development Fund will provide a financing facility and work with infrastructure Australia to identify and support projects of national economic significance - such as gas pipelines - in Australia's north.,'' Mr Shorten said.

"As part of these changes, up to $1.5 billion will be set aside to unlock gas supply in Queensland's Galilee and Bowen basins and connecting the Beetaloo to Darwin and the east coast.

"This project would support Darwin as a manufacturing and gas export powerhouse as well as increasing supply to Queensland and the eastern seaboard to put downward pressure on prices for gas users.

"Opening up the Beetaloo alone could provide enough gas to supply the domestic market for up to 400 years."

Gas fields could become more prominent in the Galilee Basin under Bill Shorten’s $1.5 billion plan.
Gas fields could become more prominent in the Galilee Basin under Bill Shorten’s $1.5 billion plan.

Labor believes there are proven and possible reserves in the Bowen that could meet all of Queensland's additional demands for at least 20 years.

While the Galilee is not as well developed, possible reserves could supply them for another 30 years.

The Galilee has one of the largest uncontracted gas reserves in Australia.

However, there are questions about connecting the Beetaloo. While it is believed there is a supply of gas, it is not known because for the past two years the Northern Territory Government has had a moratorium in place.

There are also questions as to how Labor will be able to get the repurposed fund through the Senate given the Greens do not support fracking or gas exploration.

Mr Shorten said the fund would be overhauled and take into consideration the damning Auditor-General's report into the NAIF.

An Auditor-General's report has found the NAIF lacked transparency.

"NAIF Board members used non-official email accounts to conduct official business, including sharing commercially sensitive information and making investment decisions, with records stored on private servers or consumer-grade email services," the report said.



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