House debates

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Matters of Public Importance


3:34 pm

Photo of Tim WilsonTim Wilson (Goldstein, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister to the Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction) Share this | Hansard source

There was no intention to misrepresent the member for Kennedy. At every point I have reiterated the fundamental concerns that he has raised and how critical it is that we have reliable, affordable energy and available energy for our country, for a multitude of purposes. The question is not whether we need it; the question is how best you achieve it. That is the basis of our plan and part of our approach as a government.

One of the most critical things is that you don't achieve security by isolating yourself from the rest of the world. In fact, last year I wrote a paper—which may be of interest to the parliament—focused on the challenges of supply chains and managing risk, and particularly cited a paper by Baldwin and Evenett from the Centre of Trade and Economic Integration at the Graduate Institute in Geneva. It was in the context of COVID-19, but the principles remain fundamentally the same. The report found:

The risk management literature has been looking at the resilience and robustness of supply chains for more than 20 years. It does not conclude that domestic production or shorter supply chains are the best way of addressing risks.

It goes on to say that, instead:

By allowing buyers to tap supplies produced in many national markets, individual supplier-specific and country-specific risks will be reduced.

If you isolate yourself, you can only depend on yourself. If you work with other nations of good standing who are willing participants, you can hedge the risk and spread the risk across the board.

That is very much the approach we are also taking when it comes to domestic policy. How do we harden our infrastructure, our supply chains and our security, while also not cutting our nose off to spite our face? That is why the Morrison government is taking strong action to further boost Australia's long-term fuel security by locking in the future of our refining sector. This is an issue not just of security but also supply. Our comprehensive fuel security package will support around 4,000 jobs, protect the jobs in our refineries and increase the amount of diesel we will keep onshore to address exactly the challenges the member for Kennedy outlined. And, of course, we don't just do this in isolation around the refining of existing or traditional fuels like diesel.

Also, what do we need to do to build the industries and the foundations of the future of the Australian economy, particularly in the context of fuels? I think specifically about the challenges that we as a nation will face in the future with freight, as we move towards carbon neutrality. It is easy to say that we can just wave a magical wand through a piece of legislation, as some members may wish to, and somehow our challenges around reaching carbon neutrality are suddenly going to be solved. That's not the reality. We know that technology is going to be part of that solution and building the infrastructure and the foundations of Australia's future energy security is going to be a critical part of that conversation.

When the Prime Minister and I, the minister, the member for Higgins, who I understand is here, and Senator Henderson, from the great state of Victoria, were at the Toyota plant in Altona, we saw the real power of hydrogen as part of the transport fuel strategy of the country. There are companies, increasingly, investing in hydrogen power, particularly for passenger vehicles. And there is the work that's being done with electric vehicles as well. The reason that hydrogen is so important is precisely the point that the member for Kennedy outlines. When we think about the issues of security around fuel, this very quickly transfers onto the broader issues that our country faces as a consequence of our road network and food security. It's fine to create food, to manufacture and process food, but if you can't get it from the factories or from the farms and into households, or at least into nearby supermarkets, we have a food security risk. Hydrogen fuel—as part of that freight network to enable, in a carbon neutral future, the capacity for goods to be freighted across the country—is going to be an important part of that conversation as well. That's why we understand how important fuel and fuel security is going to be, because in the end it goes right to the heart of our capacity to succeed as a country and deliver for Australians what they want: national security, freight and food security, the creation of jobs and opportunities, and a vibrant manufacturing sector that value-adds onto our primary industries. So there is a lot that we are doing in this space.

As I said, it's not just in the context of hydrogen; it is also critical that we are doing it in new sectors that will build the future of the Australian economy. You just need to look at the work that we are doing in critical minerals. I see the minister in front of me who is in charge of the Critical Minerals Strategy. When we look at what we need to do to build energy security for the country, it is not just in the transport fuel space, which I understand is mostly what this motion is about, but also looking at the other sources of energy generation that underpin the electricity network that we are going to need in its many forms. Critical minerals are particularly important for building renewable resources, so they can be part of that solution. And, of course, they are minerals that we can export to the word.


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