House debates

Monday, 14 February 2022

Private Members' Business


6:27 pm

Photo of Bob KatterBob Katter (Kennedy, Katter's Australian Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That this House notes that the Member for Kennedy and the Member for Clark call on the Government to provide for sovereign fuel security in Australia during the transition to reliance on renewable energy and net-zero carbon emissions, including by ensuring:

(1) a ban on Australian oil exports;

(2) Australian processing, by Australian owned and operated companies, of Australian oil;

(3) Australian petroleum contains a minimum of 33 per cent renewables (algae and ethanol inter alia), by 2027;

(4) Australian manufacture, by Australian owned and operated companies, of drop-in fuel using waste materials, with a targeted supply of a minimum of 33 per cent of the Australian fuel diesel market by 2027;

(5) Australia stockpile a minimum of six months supply of fuels, oils and lubricants, noting that:

(a) these materials are manufactured in Australia from Australian oil; and

(b) where this is not possible, that imports be restricted to those materials genuinely unable to be manufactured in Australia from Australian oil;

(6) any investment in industrial facilities to meet the requirements of this motion be limited to the genuine need for fuel security, with the object that Australian manufacturers achieve 100 per cent energy supply from renewable energy and net-zero carbon emissions; and

(7) Australian manufacture of electric vehicles, and their component parts including battery production, with a target of 100 per cent of all local, state and federal, government vehicles and buses, in metropolitan areas being Australian made by 2035.

For those who don't know—and I hope everyone does know—China and Russia have been meeting. All China wants is Taiwan, and all Russia wants is the Ukraine. We've heard it all before, haven't we? 'All I want is the Sudetenland.' Then: 'All I want is Czechoslovakia.' Then: 'All I want is Poland.' And then: 'All I want is Russia.' So it is a terrible time which we're getting into.

Now, you talk about defence. Honestly, members of the ALP and the LNP in this place should hang their heads in shame. You have two days of fuel supplies. When we kicked up a hell of a stink about the fuel supplies, there were emergency supply tankers put in America—on the other side of the globe.

What we've moved is a motion for a ban on the export of oil. There could be nothing more illogical and stupid than to allow 27 per cent of our requirements in diesel and petrol to go overseas, which we then buy back. It goes overseas to Singapore and to South Korea. If China places an embargo—'Oh, they wouldn't do that!' Well, talk to the Germans in World War I, when Winston Churchill made sure the Anglos had control of every drop of oil on earth. The Germans decided they wouldn't be a third-rate power and they went to war. As to World War II, we all know what forced Japan into the war—an oil embargo. As a young man—I think I was 21 years of age—I joined up because we were at war with Indonesia. Over what? Borneo oil. But this government has no supply of oil whatsoever in the country. They can't use their own Australian oil because it can't be processed in our refineries, except for about three per cent of it. So if China embargoes our fuel, the whole thing becomes a mockery. There is no way that you can move one single soldier from that point to that point. So we're moving this bill. We're not talking about it; we're doing something about it.

As to reducing CO2—well, quite frankly, I think the things that have been done in Australia are a farce. I've always been one for reducing CO2. But if you convert waste to diesel, that's 33 per cent of your oil needs. And they're already doing it: Southern Oil are already doing it in Wagga Wagga and Gladstone. It's not pie in the sky. The Prime Minister has visited; the Premier of Queensland has visited. So they're already doing it. The Germans did it for the last two years of the war—waste to diesel; pyrolysis—by the Fischer-Tropsch method.

Our manufacturing industries are gone in this country. Well, let's get them back. And I defy the ALP or LNP to tell me one single thing that they have done to get those industries back.

Now, what we are proposing is that all government vehicles in metropolitan areas be electric; that would extend our fuel supply but also would mean that we're not dependent upon the fuel supply for at least three or four per cent of our vehicles. They are to be made in Australia by an Australian-owned company. Now wouldn't that be something! Wouldn't that be something, if we were actually constructing motor vehicles in Australia again! Did we make good motor cars? Seventy-two per cent of the market was held by Australia.

Finally, as to renewables: algae is the really big special thing here, and Israel is mapping out the way forward. As to renewables, of course, no less a person than Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth said that the first answer to the world's CO2 problems is ethanol. So why aren't you doing something about it? I mean, you people sit in this place—you're the government! And you were the government—the ALP was the government.

Mr Wilkie is seconding this motion. I was on a 24-hour hour call-up to go and fight in Indonesia. He actually was in the Army when they saw combat. So, both of us, from our backgrounds, feel it imperative to do something. We feel it imperative to do something serious and practical.

I'm not going to go into why the present methods we're using to cut down CO2 are totally impractical and totally illogical, but no less a person than Al Gore has put up solutions. On fuel: we are at 28 per cent, whereas, in America, they're almost totally self-reliant now as to fuel. They are sick of fighting wars. You had World War I; you had World War II; you had the Indonesian war; you had the Arab wars, which just seemed to go on forever; you had the Gulf War and the Afghanistan war. Let's stop fighting the wars and supply our own petrol so that we don't have to fight the wars, and, if we get into one, we can defend ourselves. (Time expired)

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Oxley, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I call for a seconder for the motion.

Photo of Andrew WilkieAndrew Wilkie (Clark, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.

6:33 pm

Photo of John AlexanderJohn Alexander (Bennelong, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'd like to thank the members for Kennedy and Clark for bringing this debate forward today. Fuel security has always been important, but these are probably the most fraught times for this since the seventies. Aside from the more protectionist nature of trade today and the implications on tariffs at international borders, the pandemic has tightened supply lines, and a single container ship wedged in the Suez has shown us how dependent global trade is on a few small choke-points. This debate really does matter. It also couldn't be more timely. On the weekend, I saw fuel at $2.28 in Sydney. Clearly, fuel shocks are real.

While I don't agree with all of the protectionist measures in this motion, there are certainly some elements which are critical and should be addressed immediately by the government. The call to stockpile six months fuel supply is vital to ensure we can keep moving, even in a crisis. I am pleased to see that the government is acting on this. We are securing a baseline level of key transport fuels to be kept onshore to act as a buffer against supply shocks through the implementation of a minimum stockholding obligation. This will see a 40 per cent increase in our local diesel stocks. But, when prices stabilise again, we must invest in fuels to ensure that we have domestic storage.

Beyond the need for storage, sovereign manufacturing capabilities are also essential, which is why the government is ensuring that we have access to the fuel we need to keep Australia moving. We have already locked in Australia's refining capacity and its 1,250 employees through the landmark Fuel Security Act. This means that the Ampol refinery in Brisbane and the Viva Energy refinery in Geelong will both remain in operation until at least mid 2027. In fact, the Viva Energy refinery at Geelong in Victoria has extended this commitment until 30 June 2028, one year more than the minimum required period under the Fuel Security Act 2021. Locking in our refineries is a matter of national security, of Australia's sovereignty and our self-sufficiency at critical times, our resilience, and our resilience as a nation. It means that we continue to have the ability to refine domestic crude oil in times of emergency.

We are investing in our refineries through the fuel security services payment, which recognises the vital role that refineries play in our long-term fuel security. The payments are designed to ensure that refineries are supported in downtimes, not when they are performing well. Due to reduced demand, the pandemic resulted in a surplus of fuel products, particularly jet fuel. With the demand dropping by over 80 per cent, refineries faced challenges in reducing the production of petrol and jet fuel while maintaining diesel production. The first quarter of the fuel security services payment has now been finalised by the government, with payments well below the maximum support available. For quarter 1, 2021-22, Ampol will not receive any payments, as their payment rate is zero cents per litre. The results demonstrate the fuel security payment system is working as intended, with refiners only receiving support from the government when refinery market conditions are poor. In the case of Ampol, their margins have rallied to such an extent that they do not need any support. Viva's margins are also improving, with the payments well below the maximum available. This is the economically responsible way to support domestic industry.

I'm pleased to see the government has remained committed to domestic refining. It is not too long ago that most states had their own refinery, and, while the companies operating them saw business sense in moving offshore, it is good to see that the government has acted to ensure that not everybody has left the market.

While Australia's fuel supplies have remained secure and affordable through the pandemic, we know we need to shield Australians from potential shocks in the future and enhance our national security in the process. Our economy relies heavily on energy and liquid fuels, and this will continue to grow. (Time expired)

6:38 pm

Photo of Andrew WilkieAndrew Wilkie (Clark, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

Let there be no misunderstanding: this country must achieve net zero carbon emissions as soon as possible, and by that I mean 2035, not 2050. It also means that this country must not invest in any new oil, gas or coal projects, but it does mean we need to fast-track our renewable energy industries, including fast-tracking the development of an Indigenous electric vehicle industry. But none of those ambitions and needs let the government off the hook that, right now, and for the immediate future, we need energy security when it comes to fuels, oils and lubricants. Yes, let's get rid of them as soon as we can. But right now, tomorrow, next month, next year, we must have absolute fuel security when it comes to our carbon based fuels, oils and lubricant. What have we got instead? This country imports 90 per cent of our refined fuel—90 percent coming from overseas—and much of our 68-day stock that we claim to have in our possession is in fact in the United States of America and on ships at sea. In other words, we have bugger all fuel reserves within our borders, on our land. In fact, as of November last year we had only 54 days of jet turbine fuel, 24 days of petroleum and 20 days of diesel.

I make the point again: fuel in America is useless in a crisis and fuel on ships is potentially useless in a crisis, in particular, when we have only four refineries in this country and two are closing. All this is happening at a time of real, genuine international drama. What if there's another war in the Middle East? What if there's a war over Taiwan? What if there's a war in Ukraine? I notice that even today, just a couple of hours ago, Minister Dan Tehan warned that supply chain issues may worsen with a Russian invasion of Ukraine. This is real. What about if there are industrial catastrophes in the oil refineries of Singapore or South Korea? These are all potential scenarios. These are all real threats to the importation of fuel to this country. So why on earth we don't have at least 60 days supply of jet fuel, of petrol, of aviation gasoline, of all the oils and lubricants, beggars belief and is a failure of governance in this country by a series of governments of both colours.

Of course, the best solution to this is absolute self-reliance through renewable energy. That's what we actually need, and we have an abundance of these renewable energy sources that we can be bringing online far more quickly than we are already doing. In fact, Australia is genuinely a renewable energy powerhouse with remarkable resources like our wind, our solar, hydro, the potential for geothermal, wave, tide. There are also the emerging technologies that are on the drawing board and technologies that we can't even fathom just yet, ones that we will discover over the next several years if we get behind these industries.

I suppose one of the key points of this motion by the remarkable member for Kennedy is that we need government to be involved in every way possible by investing in these new industries and new technologies. I think paragraph (7) of the motion is very important, and that is that Australia moves to establish the manufacturing of electric vehicles and their component parts, including battery production—for which we have the minerals—'with a target of 100 per cent of all local, state and federal government vehicles and buses in metropolitan areas being Australian made by 2035'. That's achievable. We have the know-how, we have the money, we have the resources. We just don't have the political will and the incentives to make it happen. That's all we need. If this country is going to achieve net zero—I hope by 2035—and 100 per cent reliance on renewable energy then we need the government to be more involved with regulations, with funding, with incentives. I reckon a great start is a target of 100 per cent local, state and federal government vehicles and buses by 2035. Heavens, all those levels of government rely on federal funding and so we have the levers at our disposal to force them to make it happen.

Photo of Darren ChesterDarren Chester (Gippsland, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

There being no further speakers, the debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.

Federation Chamber adjourned at 18:43