Wednesday, 7 February 2007
Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee; Report
I present the final report of the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee on Australia’s future oil supply and alternative transport fuels, together with the Hansard record of proceedings and documents presented to the committee.
Ordered that the report be printed.
That the Senate take note of the report.
In tabling this report I would like to make a few quick observations, because it is a unanimous report and there are various members of the committee who want to make an important contribution. The report represents the views of all the parties represented on the committee. Putting together a set of views that we could all agree on has required compromise and some restraint. I think that it is a balanced and sensible committee report.
This inquiry started out focused on the idea of peak oil, which is the notion that global conventional oil production will reach a peak and then start to decline irreversibly. Some think this might happen soon enough to be of concern, but there are a range of views about timing—probably some time from 20 to 45 years is the variation in the timing. One thing we can be certain of though is that the oil supply will not last forever. We need to start working on this now, because putting replacement technologies in place will take a lot of careful planning over many years. There are certainly no easy solutions and there will be shared pain in the process.
Several technologies are highlighted in this valuable report and I sincerely thank everyone that made a contribution. These technologies are available for producing transport fuels from alternative sources. Some of these are renewable, like ethanol, which I am sure Senator Nash will be keen to have a few words on later. One which both this committee and the PM’s biofuels task force thought shows promise is lignocellulose ethanol production, and we recommend in the report that the government look more closely at research funding in this area. In discussing alternative fuels the committee has tried to present a balanced view of the prospects of various technologies. I would like to thank the committee. It has done a great job. We have come up with a unanimous report and I think that everyone made a valuable and important contribution.