Australian governments suck up to Japanese fossil fuel companies. Again.

by Mark Ogge


The Australian and Northern Territory Governments continue to do all they can to help foreign gas companies including giving them gas for free, despite them paying next to no tax.

This week the Northern Territory’s Chief Minister Eva Lawler will visit the Japanese oil and gas giant INPEX in Tokyo.  Even before leaving, the Chief Minister was effusive in her support for INPEX, saying that the NT Government “will absolutely always back the LNG industry,” and that “INPEX, I know, would like to have that certainty around the directions of our government, and I’ll be providing that certainty.”

It’s not clear quite why the Chief Minister and other Australian politicians are so keen to “back” companies like INPEX.  The company employs few people, pays very little company tax, zero petroleum resource rent tax (PRRT) and gets our gas for free.

According to ATO Company Tax Transparency data, INPEX paid just $120 million in company income tax between 2013-14 and 2021-22 (the most recent published data). This is just 0.3% of the $41 billion income it made selling Australian gas over this period. It paid no Petroleum Resource Rent Tax (PRRT).

The gas exported by INPEX is extracted from Australian territorial waters and owned by the Australian community, but the Australian Government gives the gas to INPEX free of charge by failing to impose royalties.

INPEX has sold this gas as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) for $40 billion.

It isn’t just NT politicians. In March last year, INPEX’s chief executive Takayuki Ueda claimed that the Australian Government’s consideration of a policy to limit gas exports would have “very sinister consequences” and could actually threaten world peace.

Despite the absurdity of the claims, the Australian Government rushed to reassure INPEX and now appears to accept Mr Udea’s arguments, making the idea that gas exports are crucial to regional security central to its Future of Gas Strategy.

In an unprecedented move, three key ministers attended a trade dialogue with Japan to assuage concerns over Australia’s reliability as an exporter and investment destination for coal and gas, while Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong chastised the Opposition in Parliament for not supporting gas companies like INPEX enough, adding that the Government’s desire to pass Sea Dumping legislation to facilitate CCS was at the request of Japan and Korea: “Maybe those who care about national security should think about the fact that the governments of Korea and Japan have been asking us to pass the legislation.”

It is difficult to understand why the Australian and NT governments are so enthusiastic to please INPEX given how little Australians benefit from INPEX’s Australian operations. It is also difficult to understand how INPEX’s implied threat to stop investing in its Australian operations could be taken seriously when it gets such favourable treatment at the expense of Australian taxpayers.

Between the Lines Newsletter

The biggest stories and the best analysis from the team at the Australia Institute, delivered to your inbox every fortnight.

You might also like