A FIRE on board Vietnamese oil tanker Aulac Fortune off Hong Kong highlights the need for Australia to have its own tanker fleet, Maritime Union national secretary Paddy Crumlin says.

The tanker fire resulted in the death of at least one crew member and injuries to at least four.

Mr Crumlin took aim at Coalition administrations over the past five years for failing to act.

“The Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison Government has been in power for more than five years and done absolutely nothing to address fuel security yet senior ministers blame everyone but themselves for their epic failure,” Mr Crumlin said.

“Australia is in a much worse position than when the Coalition came to power in 2013. There are now zero Australian-crewed tankers supplying fuel to our nation and just four refineries,” he said.


“This means we now import well over 90% of our fuel and that will be 100% before we know it unless government policy changes the direction of the industry.”

Mr Crumlin noted comments from energy minister Angus Taylor in Daily Cargo News that additional fuel could be acquired to meet surge requirements and that defence also had 40 international arrangements with partner countries to acquire fuel.

“The incident off Hong Kong shows the precarious nature of the industry. A similar fire at one of the mega-refineries in Singapore could bring Australia to its knees – not only due to lost production but also the fact that vessels on the spot market would most likely shoot through to the highest bidder and we would have a price war on our hands,” Mr Crumlin said.

“The Morrison Government’s response shows it is floundering on fuel security. Senior ministers are trying to deflect their inaction to the need for more domestic production and fracking on projects without any approvals.”