Gas Led Retreat: Employment in Gas Shrinking as Economy Growing

New research by the Australia Institute shows that the Prime Minister’s ‘gas led recovery’ led to a loss of 3,800 jobs between May 2020 and February 2021, while employment across the economy grew by 863,000.

The report shows that if the $2.9 billion allocated to new gas and oil refinery support measures, announced in and around the 2021-22 Budget, had been invested in health and education, it would have created over 19,000 jobs.

Key findings:

  • The gas industry shed 3,800 jobs between May 2020 and February 2021, while employment across the economy grew by 863,000 jobs over that same period.
  • The only reason the gas industry’s employment decline did not have a larger impact on Australia’s COVID recovery is that it was already a tiny employer.
    • Only 0.28 per cent of Australians are employed in the oil and gas, and gas supply industries.
  • Investing in almost any other industry than gas would have created more jobs. If health and education had received $2.9b instead of the gas industry, it would have created over 19,000 jobs.
  • Despite gas shrinking employment figures, increasing emissions and locking in higher energy prices, the Morrison Government has just announced it is intending to spend $600 million on a new diesel and gas fired power station at Kurri Kurri in NSW.

“The only role that gas has play in the Australian energy mix, is to continue its steady decline,” said Richard Denniss, Chief Economist at the Australia Institute.

“It is easy to dismiss the Prime Minister’s talk of a gas led recovery as mere rhetoric, but when you see the Government is now pouring $600 million into a new gas fired power station, on top of the $270 million for gas subsidies already announced in the Budget, the reality is the Morrison Government’s obsession with gas is costing our economy and our environment dearly.

“For years, conservatives have argued that the problem with solar and wind is that the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. Now, they want to spend $600 million of taxpayers’ money on a gas and diesel-fired power station which will only run for 2% of the time—the sun shines a lot more often than that.

“$600m to gas won’t deliver more jobs and it certainly won’t even deliver lower cost energy to consumers. In the words of NSW Minister for Energy & Environment, Matt Kean, ‘using gas to create electricity is a really expensive way to do it. If you’re interested in driving down electricity prices, then you’d be mad to use gas.”

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