A national fuel reserve should be set up to ensure Australia has enough in case of emergency, Labor leader Bill Shorten has said. The announcement has been welcome by unions and industry alike.
Mr Shorten pledged a Labor government would create an entity to build up national fuel reserves and ensure they don’t fall below the international standard of 90 days’ supply.
He cited the Department of Environment and Energy, which estimates Australia, a net energy importer, has 19 days of automotive gasoline supply, 23 days of jet fuel supply and 22 days of diesel supply. You can read the T&L report on the subject here.
Mr Shorten said Labor planned to start building ‘tank farms’ to store the additional reserves in the next decade and also wanted to research alternative fuels.
Trucking industry welcomes fuel reserve plan
Labor’s commitment to boost Australia’s fuel security would help protect the economy from international risks and uncertainty, the chairman of the Australian Trucking Association Geoff Crouch said.
The ATA represents the 50,000 businesses and 211,500 people in the Australian trucking industry.
“Fuel security is critical to trucking and keeping the Australian economy moving,” Mr Crouch said.
“Over 75 per cent of non-bulk domestic freight is carried by road, making fuel security vital to local supply chains and the ability of businesses and consumers to buy and sell goods.
“Last year, the International Energy Agency reported that Australia is vulnerable to unexpected changes in regional demand and disruptions in supply.
“The IEA reported that our stocks are at an all-time low, do not meet our international obligations and limit Australia’s options for addressing a disruption in supply.”
Mr Crouch welcomed Labor’s commitment that it would, if elected, commence detailed consultation around the design of a government-owned National Fuel Reserve to boost Australia’s fuel stocks of emergency reserves.
MUA: “an essential step”
The maritime union has welcomed Labor’s commitment to create a government-owned National Fuel Reserve, describing it as an essential step to protect Australia from natural disasters or global crisis that could disrupt oil supplies.
The Maritime Union of Australia said Australia has been in breach of the International Energy Agency’s 90-day fuel stockholding obligation since March 2012, with figures released last month showed the country had just 22 days of petrol and 17 days of diesel on hand.
MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said the fuel reserve commitment, along with Labor’s previous announcement of a National Strategic Fleet that will include oil tankers and gas carriers, were vital steps required to safeguard the security of an island nation that is reliant on fuel imports.
“For nearly seven years, Australia has been in breach of the IEA rules that are in place to ensure member nations have the capacity to weather unforeseen disruptions to the global supply chain,” Mr Crumlin said.
“Australia is the only developed oil-importing country without government-controlled stocks of crude oil or refined petroleum products, which has become more and more of an issue as the proportion of our fuel that is imported has risen to well over 90 per cent.”