Companies exporting gas from Australia are 95 per cent in foreign hands, new analysis from a think tank shows.
The Australia Institute study has found seven out of 10 gas export projects are at least 90 per cent owned internationally.
The findings come as households and businesses face soaring gas prices fuelled by increased local and overseas demand.
The institute’s senior research fellow and author of the analysis, David Richardson, says Australians are paying a fortune to largely foreign companies making a windfall during the energy crisis.
“As gas companies lobby for ever-more expansion for export profit, Australians are entitled to ask how this industry is serving the national interest,” Mr Richardson said.
Energy Minister Chris Bowen met with industry heads last week, flagging a renegotiation of a contract signed by the Morrison government, in order to allow more gas to be redirected from export to domestic supply.
The institute’s analysis also shows the top 20 ASX-listed companies are on average 80 per cent foreign owned.
Overseas investors have a 51 per cent stake in Telstra, despite a 35 per cent cap. Qantas is 62 per cent under foreign ownership despite a 49 per cent limit on overseas investors.
Australia’s mining industry was found to be 90 per cent foreign owned, including BHP – founded in NSW – which was 94 foreign owned.
The Commonwealth Bank is 81 per cent foreign owned.
Polling by the Australia institute found Australians thought foreign investment was “too big” despite underestimating the scale of it.
“This research highlights the need for further work by the government to examine the extent of foreign ownership in Australia,” Mr Richardson said.