BCG working with Oz government on gas-fired recovery

21 March 2021 3 min. read

Global strategy consulting firm BCG has picked up $9 million worth of contracts in the past six months on the government’s plans for a gas-led economic recovery.

The Morrison government’s plans for a post-Covid gas-led recovery appear to remain a focus, with the ABC reporting that consulting giant Boston Consulting Group has in recent months won several tenders to advise the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER) on modelling, infrastructure and business delivery. Specifically, BCG is said to be working on designing the National Gas Infrastructure Plan (NGIP), an industry subsidy scheme.

Following last September’s announcement of an intended ‘gas-fired’ economic recovery from recession, the 2020-21 Federal Budget saw the government earmark $10.9 million toward strengthening its gas infrastructure planning (on top of a further $42 million committed to unlocking supply), including developing the NGIP over the early part this year to identify priority projects such as new pipelines and options for its designated national gas hub in Wallumbilla.

BCG working with Oz government on gas-fired recovery

According to the national broadcaster, $9 million of that sum has since been snapped up by BCG across four tenders, including a $2.5 million contract awarded without an open process due to “an absence of competition for technical reasons”. Both the Energy Minister’s office and BCG declined to comment to the ABC on the details.

Recently, the US-based consultancy has also scored multiple contracts from the Digital Transformation Agency, including work on the COVIDSafe app.

At the time of the policy announcement, the government promoted the taxpayer-funded upgrade in gas infrastructure as a key component of its JobMaker employment creation programme, yet critics have noted that the local multi-billion dollar gas industry is a relatively minor employer, providing work for between just 20,000 to 30,000 people in total. The oil & gas industry itself is also accused of making recent workforce cuts, shedding some 3,000 positions according to ABS figures.

“If you're going to put taxpayers’ money into something in order to create jobs, to recover from the Covid-19 recession, supporting pretty much any other industry would be a better bet,” commented Mark Ogge, a Principal Adviser at progressive think-tank The Australia Institute. “The best way to create jobs is to actually support industries that employ a lot of people, and those industries include things like education and health and manufacturing.”

According to the government though, a boost to gas infrastructure would fuel job creation through more affordable electricity for manufacturers and other businesses, a notion backed by industry bodies. “The gas industry is a relatively small employer, but that doesn't mean it’s an industry with relatively small or low value,” said Australian Pipelines and Gas Association CEO Steve Davies. “The government is not looking to spend money to produce jobs directly.”