Robbing Australia: profits soar for gas giants, royalties and tax languish

by Michael West | Jul 17, 2022 | What's the scam?

Foreign gas giants Shell, Chevron, Exxon are enjoying an explosion in revenue while paying virtually no income tax and forking out just spare change in royalties. What’s the scam?

The scam is Australia’s insipid governments and regulators are being gamed by the gas lobby, exploited like never before. Thanks to oil and gas industry spin, and thanks to a meek and compromised finance press, foreign multinationals are pillaging our resources like never before. The latest report from energy analysts at IEEFA estimates the gas majors’ revenue has surged 115% but the royalties they pay to Australian governments, which is already very low, are not rising in step with income and profits.

Royalties are not tax. Royalties are the price which companies pay – or ought to pay – to drill and mine resources which are owned by us. Immense profits are being raked overseas, yet Chevron, Exxon and Shell – as written here many times – are egregious tax avoiders, Exxon booking $70bn in income over 7 years without paying a cent in tax.

Yet Australia’s chattering classes fixate over tiny budget items like paying for Covid leave. This is not “can’t see the forest” for the trees, this is “can’t see see the Amazon rain forest for the twig”. The foreign gas lobby is  laughing all the way to the bank – at Australia’s expense – while wilfully blowing up the planet.


Michael West established Michael West Media in 2016 to focus on journalism of high public interest, particularly the rising power of corporations over democracy. West was formerly a journalist and editor with Fairfax newspapers, a columnist for News Corp and even, once, a stockbroker.

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