Low fuel stocks the 'real' threat to national security

Low fuel stocks the 'real' threat to national security

The Federal Government needs to step up and meet Australia’s automotive fuel security obligations instead of diverting the blame to the states for not giving carte blanche to local oil exploration, Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie said today.

The comments were made by the Centre Alliance MP today after Question Time when she asked the Energy Minister Angus Taylor when the Government would increase its automotive fuel stocks from 27 days “physically in the country” to the “recommended 90-day supply”.

“Oil prices spiked after a drone attack on Saudi Arabia’s largest production facility last month and Australian motorists are paying for it at the bowser,” Rebekha said.

“We are living in volatile times and a prudent Government would be planning for contingencies because it will be a matter of 'when' not 'if' an international incident occurs.

“For the Minister to say Australia hasn’t had a major fuel disruption in 40 years, that the government is negotiating with the United States for a strategic petroleum reserve and that Australia should do more to extract its own oil reserves, doesn’t address the very real issue our nation faces right now.

“Australia has an International Energy Agency (IEA) obligation to hold 90 days' worth of automotive fuel in the event of market failure, but as of July 2019, we only had 27 days' supply physically in the country and 58 days’ worth of stock if you include contracts or purchased fuel in transit.

“Forget about raiding journalists’ offices in the interest of national security, let’s just make sure we have fuel security in Australia sooner rather than later to prevent significant economic and social disruption in the event of a major disruption in our petroleum markets, or heaven help us war came to our shores.

“Blaming the states for holding back oil exploration in Australia is a red herring. It doesn’t solve the immediate and serious problem and even if oil tenements were opened up tomorrow, they wouldn’t be refined and available in Australia.”

Two years ago the Government passed the Liquid Fuel Emergency Amendment Bill 2017 to spend $23.8 million to buy 400 kilotonnes of fuel contracts in the 2018/19 and 2019/20 financial years.

“These offshore reserves are the equivalent of five days of fuel,” Rebekha said.

“If we’re going to meet the 90-day obligation and have the fuel in Australia the Government needs to bite the bullet and spend more than $128 million."