MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin has renewed calls for an Australian tanker fleet able to ensure fuel supplies in the event of international conflict.

Mr Crumlin was speaking following the publication of reports showing Australia now had just 22 days of petrol and 17 days of diesel at its disposal.

“The Australian government needs to 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 in a statement.

Mr Crumlin said several inquiries and reports in recent years had focused on the important issue of fuel security, including the MUA’s report titled ‘Australia’s Fuel Security – Running on Empty’, written by shipping analyst John Francis.

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

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“It’s doubling up on the government’s initial policy negligence in allowing Australia to lose its refinery capacity of oil we own and is sourced in our country, and then allow tax avoidance and dodgy shipping governance to replace our domestic shipping capacity. No one has been at the wheel of energy security in Canberra for a very long time. It’s a joke with very few laughs for Australian jobs, economic independence and long term planning”

He noted the cost of addressing this risk was “comparatively low”.

“Even carrying Australia’s entire import volume on a fleet of Australian tankers would cost less than one extra cent per litre,” he said.

The MUA is now a component of the Construction, Forestry, Mining, Maritime and Energy Union, following a merger last year with the CFMEU.

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