He has also announced he will resign from Parliament at the September election.
Martin Ferguson had never sat on the back bench. Upon his election to Parliament in 1996, as Labor went into Opposition with the defeat of the Keating Government, he was immediately given a shadow ministerial role, a relatively rare acknowledgement that is given on either side of politics to a few highly regarded newbies. In the Rudd, then Gillard governments, Mr Ferguson became a beacon of commonsense and a business advocate during a period when Government has had a strained relationship with the business community. With a truly outstanding Minister and honest broker, our industry has been fortunate to be recognised and welcomed at the highest levels of government – and this is due to former Minister Ferguson’s genuine understanding of the role of the energy and pipeline industries and the value that pipeliners’ commitment to excellence brings to the safe and efficient operation of energy transportation.
His successor, the Hon. Gary Gray, who worked in the industry before entering Parliament, and who might have aspired to the role much sooner, has publicly acknowledged the contribution of his colleague as he has stepped up to this very important job, overseeing policies that impact on energy industries – industries that are critical to the nation’s future.
So, it is with sadness and much gratitude that APIA farewells Martin Ferguson as Energy Minister, but continues to welcome him as a friend of the industry and of the Association and its members.
As the nation continues what seems like a slow lurch towards the September Federal election, we will try to ensure that natural gas is a positive part of the policy discussion. Australia has abundant supplies of natural gas, and we must call on governments to facilitate exploration and development of this resource, both to ensure export contracts are met and, importantly, to ensure that the domestic industry remains strong. Electricity produced using natural gas causes half the greenhouse gas emissions that electricity generated by coal emits. In the longer term, the economy would benefit more from the development of natural gas than it does from the investment of taxpayer funds in renewable energy for power generation, which pushes up prices for consumers and squeezes out the gas industry.
As pipeliners, when the LNG construction projects are completed and natural gas is being safely and efficiently transported from coal seam gas fields to the LNG trains in Gladstone for export, we want to see a strong and growing domestic gas market, with manufacturers, power generators and households using “the sensible alternative”. The pipeline industry will design, construct and operate expansions and new pipelines to meet new domestic market demands. Let’s hope our politicians encourage this development.