May 7, 2021

MEDIA BRIEF: Morrison’s oil & gas handouts total up to $900 million so far

May 7 2021: 

With the release of the interim National Gas Infrastructure Plan (NGIP) today, the Morrison government’s total gas spending – both direct and indirect – totals between $509,450,000 and $903,210,000. 

In September 2020, after stacking the controversial National Covid-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC) with gas executives, the Morrison government began announcing major public subsidies for the gas industry. This includes funding announced in the 2020 Federal Budget, one-off funding announcements, and pre-2021 Federal Budget announcements.

More public funding is expected in this or future budgets, including for the Snowy Hydro Kurri Kurri project that is a flagship in the government’s gas plans, and pipelines to the Santos Narrabri gas field and the Beetaloo Basin in the NT.

The emissions impact of the government’s gas-fired recovery plans will be immense. From fracking to transport, processing and burning the climate impact of the government’s five “strategic basins” identified by the NCCC and advanced by the government would cancel out the emission savings from the Government’s flagship climate policies five times over and emit over three times Australia’s annual emissions.

The full breakdown of the spending and sources can be found here. 

Funding announced in the October 2020 federal budget:

  • $10.9 million in 2020-21 to set up the National Gas Infrastructure Plan to identify priority pipelines and critical infrastructure and to identify where the government will step in to fund projects.
  • $28.3 million over three years from 2020-21 to establish five strategic basin plans to accelerate gas development in the Beetaloo Basin in the NT, North Bowen and Galilee Basin in Queensland.
  • $13.7 million over four years from 2020-21 to fund CSIRO’s gas research.

Funding for Beetaloo Basin fracking announced in December 2020 and January 2021:

  • $50 million over two years in grants for Beetaloo Basin Cooperative Drilling Program, funding companies to frack gas wells.
  • $173 million for ‘Northern Territory Gas Industry Roads Upgrades’ to enable access to exploration areas.

Funding for hydrogen and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) announced in April 2021:

  • $275.5 million for ‘clean hydrogen.’
  • $263.7 million for carbon capture and storage projects.
  • $565.8 million for ‘low emissions technology’ partnerships to support the goals of the Technology Investment Roadmap.

The government has not detailed how these latest funds will be spent. Most if not all of the CCS funding and some of the hydrogen funding will go to gas projects. Energy Minister Angus Taylor has refused to rule out funding hydrogen made from gas as part of the program, and media coverage indicates the CCS funding will largely go to the gas industry with ‘hubs’ located in the gas regions of Moomba SA, Gladstone VIC, the Darling Basin NSW, the North West Shelf and Bonaparte Basin in WA, Darwin in NT and south-west WA.

The Interim National Gas Infrastructure Plan (NGIP) announced before the May 2021 Budget:

  • $5.6 million for future developments of the NGIP in 2022.
  • $4.6 million for gas-reliant businesses to negotiate competitive contract outcomes
  • $6.2 million to continue work to accelerate the development of the Wallumbilla Gas Supply Hub in Queensland.
  • $32 million grant to the Golden Beach gas production and storage project in Victoria
  • A portion of the $111.9 million investment package to “Develop the North” focusing on “corridors of growth”– like the Beetaloo Basin to the Port of Darwin.

In total, the Morrison Government has committed between $509,450,000 and $903,210,000 million in public money for the gas industry since announcing its plans for a ‘gas-fired recovery’ last year. 

The range is given due to lack of detail in the April 2021 government announcements. The lower range includes 100% of the CCS funding going to gas and nothing from hydrogen and the technology partnerships while the upper range assumes 50% of the hydrogen funding goes to gas and 20% of the technology roadmap funding goes to gas given the priorities of CCS and clean hydrogen set out in the technology roadmap.

Of this amount, the direct money to the oil and gas industry totals between $480,250,000 to $760,850,000 with a further $29,200,000 to $142,360,000 allocated in indirect funding.

The NGIP Interim report states that the final report will detail further spending to the 5 identified strategic basins by the end of the year. If the gas from these five basins is extracted and burnt it will:

  • Cancel out the emission savings from the Government’s flagship climate policies five times over.
  • Emit over three times Australia’s annual emissions.
  • Represent the equivalent of a third of Australia’s Paris Agreement Carbon Budget for 2021-2030.

The identified Strategic Basins are:

  1. The Beetaloo Basin is a prospective ‘shale gas resource’ in the Northern Territory, covering 28,000 square kilometres of Aboriginal and pastoral land. There are multiple companies interested in fracking for oil and gas, including Origin, Santos, Falcon oil, Empire Energy and Hancock’s Jacaranda Minerals.
  2. The North Bowen Basin is located in central Queensland, stretching from inland of Bowen to  south of Mackay. The main companies interested in the area are Blue Energy and Arrow Energy. Exploration permits are also held by Westside, CH4, Eureka Petroleum, Bow CSG.9
  3. The Galilee Basin is further inland from the Bowen Basin in central Queensland. Companies with exploration permits include Eureka Petroleum and Capricorn Energy.10
  4. The Gunnedah Basin is in central-west NSW, stretching from Quirindi through Gunnedah to Narrabri, covering rich farming country and state forest. Santos’ Narrabri Gas Project is the main development proposed for the basin and they have identified seven other potential gasfields in the region.
  5. The Perth Basin has both onshore and offshore areas in south-west WA, stretching from south of Perth to Carnarvon. The main companies interested in the area are Beach Energy, Strike Energy, Norwest Energy, Warrego Energy, Mitsui and Vintage Energy. Nev Power, the chair of the Covid Commission, is on the board of Strike Energy.

If these basins are opened up they will also have a significant climate impact from flaring and fugitive emissions, which has been under-accounted and is driving up our national emissions, but analysis of these emissions is outside the scope of this analysis.

In addition to their climate impacts, the gas from these basins is expensive, with the estimates for extraction ranging from $6.91-9.87 per gigajoule (GJ), well above the Government’s target of $4-6 per GJ.

More information on the emissions impacts of the strategic basins can be found in Australia’s analysis here.

Comments attributable to Kelly Albion, Campaign Director, Australia: 

“This gas cash splash is a dangerous waste of public money that puts communities, our climate and our health at risk.

“It’s clear the Prime Minister is more interested in handing out money to his mates in the oil and gas industry than investing in real solutions to climate change and everyday Australians. Every dollar the Morrison Government gives to the gas industry is money that can’t be spent on projects that deliver clean energy and good jobs.

“With Minister Pitt blocking 250 North Queensland clean energy jobs last month, it’s clear the government’s agenda is cash for their oil and gas mates, not creating jobs for regional communities.

“The Government only finished their consultation on this plan a month ago and now they’re releasing a report, it’s hard to believe that they’ve listened to the thousands of people who made submissions calling for the money not to be spent on other things.

“Thousands of Australians took the time to make a submission, many stating that they want public money to be spent on things like clean energy, education and healthcare, not the gas industry but Angus Taylor doesn’t seem to care.

“If the ‘strategic basins’ in the government’s gas plan are mined and burnt, the emissions would undo any domestic climate policies five times over. These unconventional gas will fuel more warming and result in increased bushfires, droughts, floods and heatwaves,” concluded Kelly Albion.




Contact Kelly Albion on 0422 636 775 for further comment


  1. Full breakdown of the funding announcements and this calculation can be found in this spreadsheet
  2.  Budget, 2020-21, Budget Measures, Budget Paper 2, p 116.
  3.  Beetaloo Cooperative Drilling Program, 2021. Funding to accelerate exploration and appraisal activities in the Beetaloo sub-basin. {Online]:
  4.  The Hon. Keith Pitt PM Media Release, 2021.Roads investment to open up major gas project in the Northern Territory. [Online]:
  5.  Prime Minister Media Release, 2021. Jobs boost from emissions reductions projects. [Online]:
  6.  Prime Minister Media Release, 2021. Cutting emissions and creating jobs with international partnerships. [Online]:
  7.  The Hon. Angus Taylor MP, 2021. Interview with Fran Kelly, ABC Radio National Breakfast. Transcript. [Online]:
  8. James Glenday, 2021. Scott Morrision to spend extra $539 million on new ‘clean’ energy projects. But will they reduce emissions? ABC news. [Online]:
  9. Investing in northern Australia over the next 5 years
  11.  Australia’s Emissions Projections 2020, p 73, available here
  12.  Australia’s Carbon Budget for 2021-2030 from Department of the Environment and Energy, 2020, Australia’s Emissions Projections 2020, available here.
  13.   More on the overall climate impacts of gas in the Climate Council report “Passing Gas: Why Renewables are the Future,” available here.
  14.   Core Energy Resources, ‘Gas Reserves and Resources Cost Estimates’, November 2019. Available here.