Speech - Constituency Statement (Australian Fuel Security)









The upcoming closure of BP's Bulwer Island refinery will have a devastating impact on my electorate, with the loss of over 350 jobs. It also means that Australia now imports 91 per cent of its petroleum from foreign tankers. This is up from 60 per cent in the year 2000. In fact, Australia now relies on a single megarefinery, in Singapore, for over half of our unleaded petrol supply. Yet the government's recent energy white paper concludes:

Reliability of fuel and crude supply to Australia, which underpins fuel supply domestically, is maintained through diverse international crude and fuel suppliers.

This view is delusional. As a nation we are dependent on petroleum for virtually all of our transportation. Petrol, diesel and aviation fuel accounted for over 90 per cent of transport energy use in 2012-13.

If the shipping routes through South-East Asia were disrupted, the Australian economy would grind to a halt in a matter of weeks. The NRMA has said that we have as little as three weeks of fuel supply in Australia. We are dangerously reliant upon one refinery for our fuel supplies. In essence, we have adapted a 'she'll be right' approach to fuel security, relying on the historical performance of global oil and fuel markets to provide, in all cases. We are completely at the mercy of foreign supply lines.

This is now an issue of national security, not just of energy security. Quite simply, our current approach to fuel security is not good enough, and more needs to be done to address Australia's fuel security. Not only are we losing our refining capability but also we are losing our domestic bulk-transport capability. We are losing jobs and we are risking a potential environmental disaster.

In recent weeks BP has announced it will offshore the crewing of the bulk carrier British Loyalty. There is not a lot of loyalty from the British towards what is happening here in Australia: closing down the refinery at Bulwer Island, offshoring, and all of the staffing and manning of our coastal fleet. It is now government and industry policy to deregulate coastal shipping, which is opening it up to foreign seafarers. This is a potential safety disaster. British Loyalty will be the third bulk-fuel tanker in the past six months to have its crewing placed offshore. Australia is now completely reliant on foreign shipping and crews, and Australian jobs are going right out the back door. That means, from next month, there will be only two remaining Australian bulk-fuel tankers out of something like 64 bulk-fuel tankers. As a Queenslander this is deeply concerning to me, because it also brings with it a threat to the environment.