Union urges Labor revolt over gas field
Union outrage at Labor leader Jodi McKay's decision to back a bill that threatens to stop the Narrabri gas field development is increasing, with every Labor MP being targeted in a campaign to warn them how many jobs are at stake.
Australian Workers' Union national secretary Daniel Walton has written to the MPs urging them to ignore Ms McKay's lead and not vote for independent MP Justin Field's bill, which is calling for a moratorium on gas production.
"Labor's stance on this issue flies in the face of everything our party is meant to stand for. So I'm writing personally to every NSW Labor member and reminding them of what's at stake," Mr Walton wrote.
"I also want them to meet some of the people whose livelihoods depend on affordable gas. Their concerns are much more tangible than the imagined concerns of gas conspiracy theorists in trendy seats."
His anger at the NSW Labor leadership has been echoed by federal Opposition resources spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon.
"It's a bad and poorly informed decision which, if ever implemented, would leave our manufacturers uncompetitive, cost hundreds of jobs, and result in higher household electricity bills," he said.
Manufacturers have also weighed into the debate. Polyethylene manufacturer Qenos chief executive Steve Bell said he was "absolutely flabbergasted" that the Narrabri project was being debated in parliament again.
"We have a dysfunctional gas market. We are the largest exporter of gas in the world yet we cannot secure competitive prices domestically," he said. "It's a crazy situation."
Mr Bell said Qenos relies on cheap reliable gas supplies to keep 1000 highly skilled workers employed. "We employ 1000 people directly and those jobs are really under threat if we don't get some sensible policy and fix the dysfunction in the gas market," he said.
Port Botany Qenos worker Daniel Stojkanovic said: "We should have the cheapest gas in the world, but somehow it's the most expensive. It should be our national competitive advantage.
"I just don't understand why anyone in our parliament would stand in the way of affordable gas."
Newcastle's Tomago Aluminium smelter uses around 10 per cent of NSW's electricity supply. Matt Howell, chief executive of Tomago Aluminium, said using renewable power backed up with battery power would not keep the lights on for Australian industry.
"The biggest battery in the world in South Australia would not run this smelter for eight minutes," he said.
Mr Field's gas moratorium bill was due to be debated in the upper house late last night.
Originally published as Union urges Labor revolt against McKay over Narrabri gas field