Coalition digs deeper into fossil fuels with new "growth centre" | RenewEconomy

Coalition digs deeper into fossil fuels with new “growth centre”

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Coalition pours $15.4m into fossil fuel “growth centre”, which aims to position Australia’s oil, gas, coal and uranium sectors for “the next wave of investment”.

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The federal government has announced the establishment of a $15.4 million fossil fuel “growth centre”, to help prop up Australia’s oil, gas, coal and uranium sectors during what it describes as a “challenging time” for the industry.

Part of the government’s $248 million Industry Growth Centres Initiative, the Oil, Gas and Energy Resources Growth Centre was unveiled on Wednesday by federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg and minister for innovation and industry, Christopher Pyne.


The ministers said they hoped the facility – in which the Turnbull government is investing $15.4 million over four years – would help position Australia’s energy and resources sector for the next wave of investment.

It will be chaired by long-time oil and gas industry executive, Ken Fitzpatrick, with a board and management team drawn from across the oil, gas, coal seam gas, coal and uranium industries.

According to the website, the growth centre’s mission is to reduce industry costs, direct research to industry needs, improve work skills, facilitate partnerships and reduce regulatory burdens.

It will also have a particular focus on improving knowledge and techniques needed to unlock Australia’s marginal gas resources like coal-seam gas – a controversial and high-cost field of exploration and production that AGL Energy recently ruled out of its repertoire to focus, instead, on the “evolution” of the energy industry.

Pyne says the new growth centre – which will be known as National Energy Resources Australia, or NERA – will work closely with researchers from universities and the newly streamlined CSIRO, the irony of which was not lost on critics of the scheme.

“Pouring millions of dollars into research for the fossil fuel industry adds insult to injury for the CSIRO climate scientists who are set to lose their jobs under Malcolm Turnbull and his government’s watch,” said Greens energy spokesman Adam Bandt on Thursday.

“Not only is the Liberal government allowing the CSIRO to cut climate science, it’s making the scientists who don’t lose their job try to breathe life into the dying fossil fuel industries.

“(It) is pouring millions of dollars into a big hole in the ground, which is directly at odds with what the science tells us we must do,” Bandt said.

The Australian Conservation Foundation said the establishment of NERA amounted to another multi-million dollar subsidy to big polluting energy companies.

“This money would be better spent extending the funding of the Australian Climate Change Science Program which is due to expire in June this year,” said ACF climate program manager Victoria McKenzie-McHarg.

“The world has changed since the Paris agreement. This budget the government should focus on supporting the science, technology and clean energy innovation of the future, not keep subsidising pollution.”

“Australia’s energy and resources sectors make a vital contribution to the Australian economy,” said Frydenberg in a statement on Thursday. “During this challenging time, the Growth Centre will drive collaboration and innovation, and direct research to industry needs, ultimately improving productivity to ensure Australia remains globally competitive.”

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  1. Rob 4 years ago

    Malcolm Turnbull has not changed the COALition. They are still making appalling decisions/judgments. This is just the latest. This mob has got to go! Bring on the election!

    • Joachim 4 years ago

      This is what Malcolm Turnbull calls Innovation …. it is very sad …

  2. lin 4 years ago

    This decision tells us that our government are a visionless bunch, stuck in the past, wedded to the fossil fuel industry, and more than happy to spend our money subsidising their mates and sabotaging anything that might promote renewable energy. Any hope that Turnbull would be different to Abbott appears to be badly misplaced. They need to boot, and fast.

  3. Rob G 4 years ago

    Given the slumping polls, the talk of a DD election – the panic is beginning to set in. Many reasons for this, but a biggie is the realisation that MT won’t act on CC and will continue to be a FF puppet. Some seem to think he’s waiting out for the election – hoping we’ll see the real MT, but that’s a risk that is not worth taking. MT doesn’t really hold the power in this government -that is held by the FFF men (Faceless Fossil Fuel men).

  4. Gillian H 4 years ago

    This announcement should not come as a surprise as it’s in line with Coalition ideology and priorities. While the leader has changed, as has the quality of the debates, not much else has. Not very useful focussing on the PM – Australians get to vote on the party, never the leader, and the party is still very much the same.

  5. suthnsun 4 years ago

    This is the dizzy limit! Liquid hydrocarbons from biowaste would be understandable.. and would mesh with CSIRO direction

  6. Geoff 4 years ago

    “would help position Australia’s energy and resources sector for the next wave of investment” – what next wave of investment? coal is in terminal decline. oil prices are at an all time low and may never recover. CSG is high polluting and will see more opposition in years to come. What is it that this government doe snot see? it certainly is not the writing on the wall…

    • Barri Mundee 4 years ago

      Disinvestment seems more likely!

      • jeffhre 4 years ago

        “According to the website, the growth centre’s mission is to reduce industry costs, direct research to industry needs, improve work skills, facilitate partnerships and reduce regulatory burdens.”

        Hopefully there is some money in there for retraining and job placement. It would be awful if all of these executives and energy leaders milk this government and association money for as long as possible – and then abandon the workers.

  7. Alastair Leith 4 years ago

    and Julie Bishop even said 100% RE and/or zero emissions after Paris for the first time in her life. What a bunch of numbats. they are all over the shop

  8. Alastair Leith 4 years ago

    wait for a surprise associate professorship turning up in Bjorn Lomborg’s inbox.

  9. Farmer Dave 4 years ago

    This is further proof that when members of this government tell us that they “accept the science of climate change”, they are lying.

  10. Ian 4 years ago

    Hopefully this [email protected] in a thunderstorm is all they invest of our funds in a fossils fuels growth centre. It should buy one or two commissioners, a committee and a rubbish website.

  11. Mike Jubow 4 years ago

    I am gob smacked that these pricks would have the hide to invest more than five bob in FF in this day and age with the writing on the wall in huge neon letters.

    It sounds to me that these politicians need their bank accounts at home and over seas, closely watched to see how much benefit they get out of this farce.

  12. Macabre 4 years ago

    I have this horrible feeling that there is a merry-go-round that will return this to the Liberals via political donations. We need to get some investigative journalist onto this.

  13. Motorshack 4 years ago

    I like the acronym they’ve chosen: NERA.

    In Italian this is one form of the word for black, which seems quite apropos.

    It also makes me wonder if some Coalition staffer is secretly a sly and witty supporter of renewable energy. Although, it seems more likely that it’s just the usual pinhead political bumbling.

  14. onesecond 4 years ago

    This is getting really embarrassing. The Australian public should do something and if it is polishing up their Kiwi accent for abroad.

    • john 4 years ago

      Evidently talking about Kiwi’s it seems more are leaving Au and heading home.

  15. john 4 years ago

    Quote “Growth Centre will drive collaboration and innovation, and direct research to industry needs, ultimately improving productivity “, I would expect this would lead to total automation as is happening, and utilising 457 visa workers to cut costs.
    As to some breakthrough in energy efficiency with FF this is not exactly likely.
    Putting the same money to work in the RE area will lead to more jobs will help strengthen the economy.
    Australia has the best RE resources however it seems we do not exactly have the best decision makers by a long shot.
    Are we for ever going to be lead by short sighted individuals of such low calibre?

  16. JustThink4Once 4 years ago

    The fossil fool industry and the LNP have always been joined at the wallet. It’s a mutual survival pact that ultimately will destroy both.
    Aggressive legislation to discourage renewable energy in the US has already seen signs of a split between the republicans and it’s voter base. It’s reached the point where individual politicians within their party are now breaking policy ranks for their electoral survival.
    Personally I feel that the longer this Australian unholy marriage goes on, the more devestating the long term loss will be for both. Should the next election be won by these troglodytes, I therefore take heart in the knowledge that it will probably be the last victory for 30+ years.

  17. Jason Van Der Velden 4 years ago

    The lnp has to be taking bribes, there is no other explanation

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