Sunday, 14 December 2014

So what has former Howard Government Minister Peter Reith been doing since he was exposed as lobbyist for the gas industry

When No Fibs reported this on 1 November 2013 it probably surprised very few people:

It was interesting to see the opinion piece written by Peter Reith for The Drum – Fracking scare campaigns threaten our prosperity – especially considering Reith is a paid political lobbyist and chairman of the Victorian Government’s task force on the eastern gas market.
“The public debate is soon mired in myriad false claims, partly because government has not ensured the public is fairly informed and because some activists have other political agendas,” writes Reith.
To ensure that the public is fairly informed, and agendas and vested interests are properly tabled, it should be noted that Peter Reith is a lobbyist for First State Advisors and Consultants Pty Ltd.
Who does First State Advisers lobby for?           
A full list of Reith’s clients is published on the government website.
Two major players in the coal seam gas industry are Reith’s clients: Thiess and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council.
Thiess has won a $1.8 billion contract from CSG producer QGC for the construction of gas compression facilities in Queensland’s Surat Basin.
Another of Reith’s lobbying clients, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council has applied to explore for coal seam gas beneath 40 per cent of the state, sparking outrage from indigenous and non-indigenous people alike….

It made the Gas Market Task Force final report predictable in its pro-unconventional gas conclusion:

Overall, the Taskforce considers that governments and industry should take collective action and adopt a greater sense of urgency to ensure the eastern gas market can adapt and take advantage of the significant structural changes occurring.

The focus of the Taskforce’s proposals for immediate action include facilitating new gas supplies and making the most of the sizeable gas resources available in eastern Australia. The Taskforce also supports a greater coordinated effort to implement existing national gas market reforms.

Potentially, a more ambitious package of integrated gas market reforms with the objective of increasing competition, liquidity and transparency in the eastern market could build on the existing national gas market reforms, but this requires more work and rigorous cost benefit analysis.

Finally, as unconventional gas makes an increasingly significant contribution to eastern market gas supply, strong leadership and community engagement is required. This will help to build confidence in the gas industry, which is becoming a leading national economic opportunity for Australia over the coming decades.

So what has Peter Keaston Reith arch-lobbyist been up to since then?

Well, he appears to no longer be a listed special counsel for First State Advisors and Consultants at federal or states level.

However, he remains a lobbyist for Bechtel Management Company Ltd, a company which has been on his client list at least since the time he headed the Victorian task force.

Bechtel Management Company Ltd is a civil engineering/construction subsidiary of the Bechtel Corporation which has coal, oil and gas projects around the world. Including in the Pilbara region of West Australia and the Gladstone region in Queensland. 

The parent company claims its Curtis Island LNG project off the Gladstone coast; represents the greatest concentration of Bechtel projects anywhere in the world.

In its 2012 annual report Bechtel explained that; On Curtis Island, in eastern Australia, we are building three world-scale plants to process the region’s vast coal seam gas reserves.

Bechtel Corporation though the Bechtel Power Corporation is also a member of the UK Nuclear Industry Association.

Reith continues to talk up ‘natural’ gas and remains misleading about his relationship with the industry, as his 25 February 2015 article in The Sydney Morning Herald reveals:

I became interested in natural gas at the request of the Victorian government, which was concerned at the impact of gas sales to China and its implications for the eastern Australia gas market. The massive developments in Queensland are already imposing transitional effects. There is a real prospect Sydney could suffer gas shortages causing major dislocation to business. Gas prices are already rising and it could take at least three years to supply additional gas to Sydney if everything goes well and if the government holds its nerve.

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