Oil & Gas Exploration Shows No Benefit to Australian Community

Australians significantly overestimate the oil and gas industry’s contribution to Commonwealth revenue, and the Australian community would most benefit by moving away from the oil and gas industry, according to an Australia Institute submission to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee.

The Australia Institute has made a submission to the Senate Economics Committee as part of its inquiry into a proposed One Nation Party bill that seeks to ensure offshore oil and gas projects benefit the Australian community.

Key Findings:

  • The One Nation Party bill seeks to ensure that “the exploitation of offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas substances is for the benefit of the Australian community.”
  • The Australia Institute submission agrees with the sentiment that oil and gas projects should benefit Australia, however, shows the contribution of the oil and gas industry to Australia is greatly overestimated;
    • Australians overestimate the oil and gas industry’s contribution to Commonwealth revenue to be 46x higher than it actually is. On average, Australians believe the industry contributed 10.8% to the Commonwealth budget for the 2018–19 financial year, in reality it contributed around 0.2%.
    • Oil and gas extraction as an industry has one of the lowest job intensity rates in Australia. When industries are examined for the amount of jobs relative to sales income, oil and gas extraction produces less jobs than top performing industries such as education and training by around 15 times.
    • Australians overestimate gas industry employment levels as 40 times higher than they actually are. Australians on average believe that gas mining and exploration employs 8.2% of the total Australian workforce, in reality it employs only 0.2%.
    • Many oil and gas industry projects represent a net cost to the Australian community, as subsidies, clean-up costs, environmental impacts and resource depletion outweigh the relatively small tax and employment benefits.The Australian community would benefit most by moving away from oil and gas, including offshore exploration, and investing in renewable energy.

“It has become abundantly clear that the oil and gas industry does not benefit the Australian community—it benefits large corporations overseas that pay little-to-no tax, do not employ many Australians, and do not help pay for increasingly common climate disasters, which have devastated Australian communities over the past decade,” said Rod Campbell, research director at the Australia Institute.

“Polling by the Australia Institute shows that there are high levels of support across the Australian community for fossil fuel companies to pay for the cost of climate change disasters. To address this, the Australia Institute has proposed a Climate Compensation Fund funded by a levy on Australian coal, gas and oil exports.

“If the sentiment of the One Nation Party bill is truly to see the Australian community benefit from our natural resources, the most benefit lies in Australia moving away from oil and gas, and toward renewable energy.”

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