Sunday 27th May, 2018

Government accused of “sitting on its hands” over fuel security

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

MARITIME Union assistant national secretary Ian Bray has criticised the federal government for inaction over national fuel security.

Federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg this week announced a review, but Mr Bray said the government had been “sitting on its hands” and that Australia had been non-compliant with the International Energy Agency’s 90-day fuel stockholding obligation since March 2012.

“The Senate has held inquiries into both fuel security and flag-of-convenience shipping, while the Energy White Paper and Defence White Paper also investigated our increasing reliance on foreign fuel,” Mr Bray said.

“Unlike the Abbott/Turnbull government, the MUA has continually led the debate on fuel security in recent years but this has fallen on deaf ears with the number of Australian-crewed tankers now down to zero,” he said.

“There are now no Australian-crewed tankers supplying fuel to our nation, down from 12 in the year 2000. At the same time, the number of refineries has halved to four. This means we now import more than 90% of our fuel and that number is rising.”

Mr Bray noted Engineers Australia told the fuel security Senate inquiry in 2015 Australia’s total stockholding of oil and liquid fuel comprised two weeks of supply at sea, five to 12 days’ supply at refineries, and 10 days of refined stock at terminals and three days at service stations.

“All of these doomsday scenarios have been heard before yet the government expects us to believe the trigger for an emergency has only just occurred – they are playing us for mugs,” he said.

“Australians would expect our government to have a better plan and this would involve more refining here and Australian-crewed ships to carry it around the coast.”

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