A leading clean energy group will unleash an advertising blitz to counter the gas industry’s attempts to undermine government interventions to bring down soaring prices.
The Smart Energy Council is promising a “ruthless” campaign attacking companies which it argues are trying to protect profits reaped amid Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine.
“If the gas industry thinks that they’ll step onto the field of play and that there aren’t people to call them out, well they’re sorely mistaken,” Smart Energy Council chief executive John Grimes told The Canberra Times.
The head of the peak oil and gas industry group this week declared “all options were on the table” to fight intervention into the market, after reports the sector was prepared to spend $20 million to push their case.
The green energy sector is getting on the front foot, launching a campaign on Thursday as parliament sits to pass the government’s energy intervention legislation.
At least $1 million is expected to be spent on the campaign, with the Smart Energy Council to fund the initial cost before appealing for public donations.
While that might be just a fraction of the gas industry’s potential war chest, Mr Grimes argued the green energy sector had one major advantage – the support of the public.
Mr Grimes accused the gas lobby of running a political campaign to protect their “war profits”.
“We are standing up on behalf of the renewables industry in Australia, and I’m sure supported by many ordinary Australians, to say ‘no’,” he said.
“If they think they can prosecute a campaign, and that we will not prosecute a thoroughly ruthless [counter] campaign that will do enormous brand damage to these companies and shred any last vestige of a social license that they retained, then they are frankly dreaming.”
The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association met with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Resources Minister Madeleine King on Wednesday, as it continues to sound the alarm about the intervention.
One of the group’s biggest concerns is the government’s plan to introduce a mandatory code of conduct, which will include a provision requiring gas be sold at a “reasonable” price on the domestic market.
APPEA chief executive Samantha McCulloch said the provision would allow for an “indefinite regulation of prices in the Australian gas market”.
The group’s chair, Woodside Energy chief executive Meg O’Neill, said the market was working and government intervention would worsen the situation.
“The market is working and the government’s interfering is actually causing significant disruption and significant uncertainty on both sides of the table,” she said.
“It’s very disappointing for us to see the government … without consultation, propose this very significant market intervention that will have long-lasting implications.
“Any price intervention is problematic because it distorts the market and so what it does is it sends a signal to customers and to producers that there’s uncertainty.”
This article was originally published by The Canberra Times on 15/12/2022.