Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Both parties support gas? In yet another blow for Biden’s global climate ambitions, voter and union pressure on the opposition Australian Labor Party to support well paid mining jobs appears to be pushing politicians towards bipartisan support for fossil fuel projects.
Labor in new dispute over whether to back gas
By David Crowe
Updated June 1, 2021 — 3.51pm
Labor MPs have split over a federal plan to open up new gas reserves in a new sign of disunity on climate change and whether Australia should phase out fossil fuel.
The debate included significant interventions from former leader Bill Shorten and former resources spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon to back policies that opened up gas reserves to supply energy for households and business.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese did not speak during the caucus discussion on gas but will back the mining industry in a speech to be delivered on Wednesday, praising sectors including gas and coal for providing jobs.
“Our nation’s top five resources exports are iron ore, LNG, gold, metallurgical coal and thermal coal,” he says in a draft of the speech to the Minerals Council of Australia.
“These industries provide jobs for Australians. They provide economic activity in regional Australia. And billions of dollars of revenue for governments. Australia will continue to export these commodities.“
Mr Albanese warns, however, that markets change and demand for some resources will decline, with growth switching to resources that can support electric vehicles and batteries.
Labor, which identifies with workers, but also flirts with urban greens, recently suffered a bad loss in a mining district by-election in the Hunter Valley. A lot of people who live in the Hunter Valley work in coal mines. In addition, a recent major Aussie power blackout which affected people in multiple states, caused by a single catastrophic failure, has hilighted just how fragile Australia’s under-invested dispatchable power grid has become.
What about future job prospects for fossil fuel workers?
I don’t think anyone needs to worry about a drop in demand for Aussie coal and iron ore demand in the next few decades.
China utterly dominates global steel production. But as China openly diverts its enormous industrial capacity towards attempting to build a navy to rival the US Navy, challenging the USA’s domination of the Pacific Ocean, India, Vietnam, and the Philippines have quietly ramped up their own military expenditure and steel production, to counter the growing Chinese threat. Throughout Asia, steel foundries are running hot in a race to produce armour for a widely anticipated war in the Pacific.
Australia is reaping enormous profits from all this militaristic insanity, selling iron ore, coal and other minerals to anyone who asks for them.