Foreign energy giant wants Australia's EFIC to foot bill for fossil fuel projects

(Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, 5 March 2019) A major oil and gas company wants Australian taxpayer money spent on overseas energy projects, stoking fears that a Morrison government plan to boost development in the Pacific is a smokescreen for fossil fuel investment. A government amendment to the operation of its export credit agency, the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation, quietly passed Parliament's lower house with support from Labor last month. It is now being considered by a Senate committee. A submission to the Senate inquiry by Papua New Guinean oil and gas company Oil Search suggests fossil fuel projects may be lining up for funding under the proposed laws. The government bill would add $1 billion to the finance corporation's existing $200 million calling capital and broaden the national interest test for investment decisions. The Coalition and Labor combined to defeat an amendment to the bill proposed by Greens MP Adam Bandt that would have barred the corporation from facilitating thermal coal exports. Mr Bandt, the party’s climate change and energy spokesman, said the bill would “expand Australia’s fossil fuel exports at taxpayer expense”.