With the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) warning consumers of huge price hikes ahead, further calls for the federal government to pull its so-called “gas trigger” seem inevitable.
But that could be a very big mistake – leading to the type of trade dispute Australia fought for years against Big Tobacco over plain packaging laws.
The gas trigger (officially the Australian Domestic Gas Security Mechanism) was created by the Turnbull government in 2017 when there were fears of a gas shortage in eastern Australia.
It allows the federal resources minister to direct gas exporters to limit their gas exports or find new sources of gas to meet domestic demand instead of exporting gas overseas.
…Among other things, Philip Morris claimed the labelling regulations indirectly expropriated its brand assets, intellectual property and goodwill associated with its products. Australia eventually won the dispute, but at a reported A$24 million cost along with internal expenditures.
So, avoiding a legal dispute costing peanuts should be a greater priority for the government that ending a $50bn energy gouge of every household and business east of WA by an untaxed foreign cartel.