Regional businesses troubled by uncertainty around gas supply

Regional manufacturers are worried about the supply and pricing of gas.

The ABC reports that long-term contracts are becoming more difficult to lock in for some, and lobby group Manufacturing Australia has claimed members have shut factories due to this.

"When you can't get a price out further than 12 or 18 months and the price is triple or quadruple the previously contracted prices,” Ben Eade from Manufacturing Australia told the ABC.

Australian Paper of Gippsland said that its industry already operated on thin margins and a rise in prices could force them to close down.

"Australia as a nation is looking to be a cheap and reliable energy exporter, which is effectively giving gas to our competitors, giving away our competitive advantage and putting manufacturing and jobs here in Australia at risk," said AP’s energy manager Brian Green.

There has been concern in recent years that the developing east coast LNG industry (for example at Gladstone, where an estimated $60 billion has been spent in construction at three sites) will push up local prices as exports begin.

At the same time, coal seam gas extraction has been limited or effectively banned in NSW and Victoria.

CSG has emerged as a major issue in the NSW election, to be held tomorrow, with the Labor opposition pledging to block development on the north coast.

"The development of this industry is still not something that is being embraced by the people of NSW," said NSW resources minister Anthony Roberts.

"The average person has no idea that a gas crisis is looming,"

"They don't know why their gas bills rose this year. They don't understand the consequences of this for manufacturers and workers or jobs."