Gladstone at the centre of nation’s growth
24 July 2018
This opinion article by Grant King was published in The Observer on 24 July 2018.
Australia is one of the energy superpowers of the world.
We have some of the world's best endowment of energy resources and these resources have in turn been a major driver of economic growth, development and wealth in Australia.
Gladstone is at the centre of this expansion, serving as a striking illustration of how an entire community can thrive when it makes the most of its opportunities.
Gladstone's success isn't a result of luck - it is built on the hard work and commitment of its people as well as the innovation, investment and ingenuity of small, medium and large businesses.
I am thrilled to be joining Shell Australia chairman Zoe Yujnovich and Leo Zussino, the chairman of the Gladstone Ports Corporation and the Gladstone Development Board, for the Strong Australia forum in Gladstone on July 26 to hear how this Central Queensland powerhouse is maximising its fortunes and helping to build a stronger Australia.
To continue to prosper, regional centres such as Gladstone must remain globally competitive and continue to attract investment.
Our energy exports contribute to us being one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
Historically, access to competitively priced and reliable supplies of energy has also supported the competitiveness of our manufacturersand the standard of living of energy consumers generally.
Queensland has played a significant role in this achievement. Queensland sold, selling $31.2 billion worth of coal to the world in 2017.
Its three LNG projects make up almost a third of Australia's current LNG capacity.
Gladstone in particular has played a pivotal role in this story. The community of Gladstone have shown great foresight, commitment and flexibility in identifying the opportunities that exist in the region and worked very hard to deliver them.
The Port of Gladstone is vital not just to Queensland but to all of Australia. It is such a large port through which a great diversity of agricultural and mineral exports occurs, all of which drive significant wealth creation for the local and regional community as well as the nation as a whole.
Queensland has a proud history of being the first state in Australia to discover natural gas - Roma in 1899 - and is home to Australia's first commercial oil field - Moonie in 1961.
However, the conventional gas and oil fields around Roma and in the Cooper Basin in South West Queensland were significantly depleted by the mid-1990s and Queensland was facing the loss of a major industry in regional Queensland and the need to import gas.
Faced with this challenge industry, government at all levels and the community worked together to develop a new industry that today employs many thousands of Queenslanders, particularly in regional Queensland, strengthening not just the economy but whole communities.
The LNG story is a recent one and testimony to the vision of many - that the vast resources of coal seam gas could be developed on the scale that has been achieved through the export of LNG.
The value of energy resources to the Australian economy cannot be understated.
Australia's coal exports hit a record high of $A57.1 billion in 2017, the previous record being $A46.7 billion in 2011.
Australia is the largest exporter of metallurgical coal, making up about 17 per cent of world production and the second largest exporter of thermal coal in the world.
Australia has become, thanks to a staggering investment of about $200 billion during the mining boom in new resource development and production facilities, the second-largest exporter of LNG in the world. A significant amount of this investment has occurred in Queensland.
LNG exports are forecast to overtake metallurgical coal as Australia's second highest export by value in 2018-19.
Our uranium production places us third in the world with Australia holding 31 per cent of the world's proven uranium reserves.
We also have vast solar resources and some of the best wind resources in the world and as we look to a future of energy storage, Australia has the third largest reserve of lithium.
We are today faced with yet another challenge to our energy future. How to preserve the economic benefits of our energy legacy in all its forms while using energy on a more carbon-efficient basis. Managing this transition is critical to the affordability and reliability of our domestic energy system.
Our coal and natural gas are some of the most carbon efficient in the world and continuing to make them available to the world makes both economic sense for Australia and contributes to improved carbon efficiency in other countries less blessed with the energy resources we have available to us.
There were some who were opposed to the development of the LNG industry in Queensland, but industry, government and the community worked together to create this new industry for Queensland.
This same model of cooperation must be used again to make sure Queensland does its bit to ensure Australia continues to remain an energy superpower.
Our Strong Australia lunch with Ms Yujnovich and Mr Zussino is on Thursday, July 26, at the Gladstone Yacht Club.
For more information or to book tickets visit www.strongaustralia.com.au.