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About Australia's mineral resources

Australia's mineral resources rightly belong to this and future generations of Australians, not to foreign corporations. This was what Labor Energy Minister Rex Connor was trying to bring about with the AU$4billion loan that he tried to secure in 1974.

Because Rex Connor had tried to do so through secretive and unorthodox means and had misled Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and Parliament, this was seized upon by the Opposition led by Malcolm Fraser and the Murdoch Press to launch a further campaign to destabilise the Whitlam Government. (An earlier attempt had failed when the Australian people re-elected the labor Government in the mid-term election of 18 May 1974. The 1974 election was called by Gough Whitlam in response to a threat by a rigged Senate majority to block the Federal Budget.)

The subsequent Liberal/National Coalition governments of Malcolm Fraser (1975-1983) and John Howard (1996-2007) as well as the purportedly 'Labor' governments of Bob Hawke and Paul Keating (1983-1996) removed much of the legislative controls that the Australian government had over our mineral resources. As a result our coal, gas and the remnants of Australian petroleum, in addition to metallic ore are being extracted at an ever faster rate for export to countries like China in return for their manufactured produce (much of which ends up in land-fill after a few years).

The latest example of the sell-off of our mineral wealth is plans by the Federal Abbott government to allow foreign corporations to extract our natural gas and export it overseas leaving little for Australians, at inflated prices.

To end this sell-off, a community campaign Reserve Our Gas has been launched.

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From the Sydney Morning Herald (29/9/14) and the Reserve Our Gas web-site:

Australia holds an enviable supply of natural gas. But, unlike every other gas-exporting country, it has no laws to keep a certain amount of extracted gas onshore, driving up prices and hurting consumers and manufacturers, campaigners say.

On Monday, the Reserve Our Gas campaign was launched to demand the federal government to pass laws to ensure a percentage of gas is kept for domestic use rather than being exported and linked to global prices.

Such laws could stop local gas prices from rocketing, with one projection showing prices could triple next year when LNG exports ramp up.

A BIS Shrapnel report found a rise could see one in five manufacturers shut down over the next half-decade. It also showed households gas bills could rise by 26 per cent over three years from 2015.

The Australian Workers Union, which is leading the campaign with the support of Australian Paper and resources giant Alcoa, said Australia was the only gas-exporting country in the world to not reserve gas for its own citizens and industries.

As a consequence, exporters were unfairly selling Australian gas back to consumers at global prices, it said.
While Australian gas has traditionally cost around $3-4 per gigajoule domestically, it could sell for up to $18 per gigajoule on Asian markets.

"We currently have a situation in which our abundant gas reserves are hurting Australian jobs and households instead of helping them," said AWU National Secretary Scott McDine said. "That's crazy and it's no wonder no other gas-exporting nation allows it."

Israel, Indonesia, Egypt each have laws requiring that a percentage of gas extracted must stay within their domestic markets. The United States has a public interest test for gas exports.

The union says state-owned companies dominate gas industries in Norway, Qatar, Russia, Algeria, and Malaysia, ensuring domestic advantage.

"Australians have a right to know their rapidly rising gas bills are actually completely preventable. We just need to do what every other gas-exporting nation does and bring in laws to look after the local population," he said.

BIS Shrapnel found gas extraction had a spectacularly high profit ratio of 66 per cent, compared to iron ore with 32 per cent and coal with 3.4 per cent.

"We are throwing away hundreds of thousands of jobs, and our national competitive advantage, simply so gas exporters can squeeze a little extra profit out of what is already a spectacularly profitable business," he said.