“There is one thing that stands in the way of industry reaching its full potential yet again, it will not be the price of oil, it will be the failure to close the competitiveness gap that has opened up between Australia and our rivals in the LNG international sector,” he said.
Mr Ferguson said competition will come from countries which can produce and sell LNG cheaper than Australia.
To remain competitive and globally dominant in the industry, Mr Ferguson said Australia’s workforce and management must innovate and become more efficient and productive.
Despite more competition, the LNG sector’s contribution to the economy is expected to grow.
“This sector’s economic contribution to the national economy will more than double to $65 billion,” he said.
“Revenue to government, and I’m sure this is a focus of the new Prime Minister, is expected to rise from $8.8 billion in 2012 to reach almost $13 billion a year by the end of the decade.”
On the role of government in the industry, Mr Ferguson said strong political leadership and investment in jobs is needed.
“Our business and political leaders must reject complacency,” he said.
“Whether it's onshore or offshore, we need to do everything we can to attract investment and jobs especially now when they are needed the most.”
Red tape must be removed, approval times streamlined and overlap between state and federal regulatory regimes reduced, he said.
Mr Ferguson said there has been massive investment in LNG recently and Australia is expected to become the world’s leading LNG producer.
“About $200 billion is being spent to develop new gas exploration projects,” he said.
“Between early 2014 and the end of 2018, the nation’s LNG production capacity will have more than tripled.”
Australia cannot be content with being the largest LNG producer in the world, it must also be the best, he said.