FEDERAL energy minister has defended the government’s record on fuel security following criticism this week from the Maritime Union.

In a statement sent to Daily Cargo News, Mr Taylor said Australia had a level of fuel reserves that needed to be defended “in the current environment”.

Mr Taylor said the government had been active in this field, while also criticising the Labor Opposition.

“We initiated the liquid fuel security review and expect it to be released this year,” he said.

“In NSW alone, we saw the Cylde and Kurnell petroleum refineries close under Labor’s last term in office.”

Mr Taylor said many public commentators were approaching the issue primarily from the perspective of the military defence of Australia.

“This scenario is one of a number relevant to our nation’s fuel security,” he said.

“Additional fuel can be acquired to meet surge requirements should our circumstances change, for example, Defence also has 40 international arrangements with partner countries to acquire fuel, reducing the potential impact of market forces in a time of crisis.”

Earlier this week, MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin accused the government of “dropping the ball on fuel security”.

“The cost of addressing this risk is comparatively low: even carrying Australia’s entire import volume on a fleet of Australian tankers would cost less than one extra cent per litre,” Mr Crumlin said.

“The Australian government needs support as a matter of urgency a number of Australian tankers as part of a national strategic fleet to ensure that some level of supplies can be maintained in the event of a crisis.”

Mr Crumlin said there were now no Australian-crewed tankers supplying fuel to our nation.

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“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,” he said.

“This isn’t only a matter of fuel security but also national security. Unlike Australian seafarers, foreign crews have no background checks yet they are carrying petroleum products, ammonium nitrate and LNG around the Australian coast.”

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