House debates

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Matters of Public Importance


4:19 pm

Photo of Katie AllenKatie Allen (Higgins, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

The Morrison government is taking strong action to further boost our long-term fuel security by locking in the future of our refining sector, and that's been through the landmark Fuel Security Act 2021, where we've looked at the refining capacity to secure ongoing operations of refineries in both Brisbane and Geelong. These will stay in operation until at least mid-2027.

As part of this commitment, the government will also co-fund $250 million in major infrastructure upgrades. This is important, because it will help to lower the sulphur fuel content of our fuels for our onshore refining. This lowering of the sulphur content in fuel will bring benefits of around $1 billion in avoided health costs due to better air quality. This will also help motorists to save costs on maintenance. Our fuel security package is important not only for ensuring our short- and medium-term support of the refinery industry but also for making sure we improve the health of our consumers.

The issue with our fuel security package is that there are two things coming at us at speed. Firstly, we have been dealing with the COVID pandemic, and that has had an effect on our supply chain. There is absolutely no doubt about our sovereign supply chains; whether it's been for medicines, PPE equipment or tests, we have had issues to address. That can also be true for fuel security, so it is important that we turn our minds to the issue of how to make sure we have fuel security.

But it's not just COVID that we've had to deal with, with regard to self-sufficiency and security; we've also had the issue of the world transitioning to a decarbonised economy. Australia has been very fortunate that it has had a lot of access to cheap energy in the past and will continue to in the short to medium term. But we are going through a transition which means we need to build the infrastructure of the future. That's why we recognise that, while fuels are transitioning, we need to get ready for the green superpower led future that is awaiting Australia. This includes the government's strategic investment in the Future Fuels and Vehicles Strategy. This strategy will help empower consumers to drive the car they want and help support an enabling environment by rolling out infrastructure and making the grid electric vehicle ready.

The transition that needs to happen, where we move from being dependent on diesel and on fossil fuels, is going to take time, and it is going to take technological development to get us there. But this government is committed to a carbon net zero 2050, underpinning the infrastructure changes, technological development and business development that is going to have to happen to get us there sooner, faster and safer.

Our strategy is backed by the $250 million Future Fuels Fund, which will focus on some very important aspects. The first is public EV charging stations. We know Australia has some particular issues with regard to being a big continent and us liking to drive a long way. Anyone who's been to Europe knows that they have much shorter distances. Australians love to get in a car and drive a long way. We need to make sure our public EV charging stations are supplementing the private EV charging stations that are growing like sunflowers across this great continent. A number of constituents in my electorate spoke with me last week about the work they are doing in the private EV charging sector. We know GET and JOLT are two such EV charging businesses that have grown very rapidly and are providing private EV charging. We as a government are backing in private enterprise and filling the gap with public EV charging. We also understand household smart charging will be important for the future, and we also know we're going to have to deal with heavy and long-distance vehicle technologies in a very different way. These will be fuelled by hydrogen—green hydrogen in particular.

As we move from a liquid fuel past based on fossil fuels to a liquid fuel future based on green hydrogen, we know there is a lot of change coming to this country. And who do you trust better than us to lead you into that future? Who do you trust better than a government that understands the technology led development of future fuels, of infrastructure, and understands that industry partnering with government is the best way forward by enabling the gaps to be filled by government but not the whole thing to be driven by government? Partnering with the private sector to support uptake and stimulate co-investment in future fuels is how we get to a greener, cleaner future faster.


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