Few Australians back Government’s nonsensical gas-fired plan, national poll shows

Campaigns and Advocacy, Climate Change, Media Releases article written on the 22 Sep 2020

Just 14% of Australian voters support the Federal Government prioritising taxpayer funds for the gas industry to rebuild the economy over other sectors, according to a national poll released days after the Prime Minister announced a ‘gas-fired’ recovery plan.

Releasing the YouGov survey results, Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Lyn Morgain said the poll found support for prioritising funding for the health sector was highest at 74%, while 47% supported prioritising public investment in the tourism industry, 46% in schools and universities, and 41% in renewable energy – almost three times as much as would prioritise gas.

When made aware of Australian Tax Office reports that few oil and gas companies operating in Australia pay any tax, the majority of Australian voters (56%) opposed taxpayer money being spent on subsidising multinational gas companies and new gas infrastructure, with only 26% supporting subsidising of gas companies.

Ms Morgain said the Government should listen to taxpayers before investing their money at such a critical moment for the nation.

“The Prime Minister’s move to put gas, a fossil fuel, at the centre of our recovery from COVID-19 is deeply concerning and clearly at odds with the wishes of the Australian people, Ms Morgain said.

“Australians do not want their money to be spent on an industry that is uneconomic, provides few jobs and causes further damage to our climate. The climate crisis, driven by fossil fuels like gas, exacerbates poverty and inequality around the world.”

The poll – conducted from September 14-16 with a nationally representative sample of Australian voters – also showed close to two-thirds (65%) of those surveyed supported taxpayer funds being used to transition the Australian manufacturing industry towards using clean renewable energy, while only 19% supported continuing to rely on fossil fuels such as gas.

And just under a third (31%) of Coalition voters support Australian manufacturing continuing to rely on fossil fuels like gas.

“Poll after poll has shown that the majority of Australians are ready to put our reliance on fossil fuels behind us, and believe now is the time to make the shift towards renewables to protect our planet for all Australians as well as our Pacific neighbours, who are most at risk from the impacts of climate change,” Ms Morgain said.

“The market has made clear the lack of viability of fossil fuels through their reluctance to fund gas projects. Subsidising an industry that, according to the ACCC, has been ripping off Australians, is abhorrent, nonsensical and against the national interest.”

A briefing paper released by Oxfam in July, Australia’s energy future & the recovery from COVID-19, showed gas was a very unstable foundation on which to rebuild an economy and build a better future.

Ms Morgain said the Government risked imposing a crippling burden on future generations here at home and around the world – in the form of climate damage, stranded assets, fewer jobs and big debts.

“We have an opportunity to take serious action to tackle climate change by investing in renewable energies, while stabilising and strengthening the Australian economy. Backing fossil fuels is a missed opportunity,” Ms Morgain said.

“Oxfam is calling on the Government to use the October 6 Federal Budget to scrap their plans for a fossil fuel led recovery, and instead invest in economic stimulus measures that accelerate the transformation of our energy system and economy.”

For further information or interviews, contact Lily Partland on 0418 118 687 or lilyp@oxfam.org.au