Export restrictions will be placed on gas companies as the Turnbull government further tightens the screws on industry chiefs to guarantee domestic supply.
The prime minister said a domestic gas shortage had triggered a dramatic cost hike, and it was time prices in Australia “fairly reflect international export prices as they should”.
“Australians are entitled to have access to the gas they need at prices they can afford. Thousands of jobs depend on secure, reliable and affordable gas,” he said.
The new powers, to be announced on Thursday, will allow the government to impose export controls based on advice about Australia’s forecast needs from the market operator and regulator.
Exporters who take more from the Australian market than they put in will be forced to explain how they will fill the shortfall of domestic gas.
Mr Turnbull said the government would not prescribe how exporters respond, “giving companies considerable flexibility in finding commercial solutions”.
The latest measure comes after Mr Turnbull twice hauled gas chiefs to Canberra to press them on action to end a supply crisis in Australia.
The government sought commitments from the industry that each east coast LNG exporter would put more gas into the domestic market than they took out.
“While good progress has been made, those requirements have not been met,” Mr Turnbull said.
“It is unacceptable for Australia to become the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, but not have enough domestic supply for Australian households and businesses.”
Mr Turnbull again argued gas companies operated with a social licence from Australians.
“They cannot expect to maintain that licence if Australians are short-changed because of excessive exports,” he said.
“The government remains committed to LNG exports but not at the expense of Australian interests.”
Mr Turnbull said the “targeted, temporary” restrictions were expected to apply only to east coast exporters and would comply with Australia’s international obligations.
Consultation with industry will take place before the regulations take effect on July 1.
The export restrictions are the third measure announced in response to the gas crisis. The consumer watchdog has been told to investigate the entire gas supply chain, and the government has committed to pursuing a range of pipeline and gas market reforms.