Senate debates

Tuesday, 22 June 2021


Fuel Security Bill 2021, Fuel Security (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2021; Second Reading

12:56 pm

Photo of Tony SheldonTony Sheldon (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to support the Fuel Security Bill 2021. Securing Australia's fuel supply is essential for our national economy and our national security. We need a secure supply of fuel to keep planes in the air and trucks on the road. We need a secure supply of fuel to keep our regions connected with our capital cities and to make sure that Australians can buy essential goods like groceries and hopefully—one day, in the not too distant future—get a Pfizer vaccine.

Twenty years ago, eight Australian oil refineries met almost our entire domestic demand for refined fuel. Today we import more than 90 per cent of our refined petroleum. Unfortunately, that appears to be a recurring story with the Morrison government and matters of national sovereignty and security. This government has largely given up on the domestic fuel refining industry, just as it has given up on domestic shipping fleets. Whereas some 30 years ago we had 100 Australian-flagged vessels with Australian crews, paying Australian taxes and complying with Australian laws, we now have just 13. And whereas 20 years ago we had eight Australian oil refineries meeting almost our entire domestic demand, we now have just two oil refineries in Australia, and we import more than 90 per cent of our refined petroleum. It's a shameful outsourcing of Australia's national security. It's a shameful outsourcing of Australia's national sovereignty. And it's a shameful outsourcing of thousands of good-paying, skilled Australian jobs—the sorts of highly skilled, specialised technicians that Australia will need as it transitions to new sources of energy. To send so many of these jobs overseas is a short-sighted act of economic vandalism.

This piece of legislation is long overdue. I want to particularly note the efforts of the Australian Workers Union, which, for many years, has pushed for support for our fuel refining industry, for refinery workers and for our fuel security.

In 2015, the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport produced a report, Australia's transport energy resilience and sustainability. It recommended that the government undertake a comprehensive review of Australia's fuel supply and fuel security. That was six years ago. It took the government three years to finally announce, in 2018, that it would actually do this review. The interim report on liquid fuel security was delivered to the government over two years ago, in April 2019. We still haven't seen the final report, which was due in late 2019. The interim report identified a number of steps the government could and should have taken two years ago. The report identified our serious noncompliance with international energy obligations for domestic fuel stocks. We are required to have a domestic fuel stock of 90 days to protect ourselves against global and domestic oil shocks. We weren't compliant then, and we're not compliant now. In fact, today, we have only 58 days of fuel reserves in Australia. This is still 32 days short—more than a month short—of the bare minimum 90-day target. We're still far below the target. That interim report referred to us as an outlier in our cavalier approach to fuel security. Just as with coastal shipping, just as with maritime crew visas, the Morrison government loves to take liberties with our national security when it comes to fuel reserves.

It's taken six years to finally get to this bill. Australia has suffered through three Liberal prime ministers and four deputy prime ministers to get this far. Australia has also suffered through a series of abject marketing stunts dressed up as announcements. This is where the government's ineptitude really shines. On 22 April 2020, the minister for energy issued a media release titled 'Australia to boost fuel security and establish national oil reserve'. The announcement, said the government, was to purchase two days of cheap fuel—just two days worth, when we are 32 days below our target. It gets better. If you read a few paragraphs down, it turns out that the fuel is being stored 14,000 kilometres away in the United States. The Morrison government's bright idea to protect our fuel security is to store our emergency fuel reserves on the other side of the world. Retired Air Vice-Marshal John Blackburn summed it up well. He referred to it as an 'opportunistic marketing stunt'. He then delivered one of the bluntest indictments of government policy you'll ever see. He said: 'You don't get improved domestic fuel security by buying oil and sticking it in America. It's really that simple.' The Morrison government went back to the drawing board.

On 14 September 2020, the Prime Minister issued a press release titled 'Boosting Australia's fuel security'. According to the Prime Minister, $211 million would be invested in creating over 1,000 new jobs in domestic fuel storage and refining. Within six weeks of that announcement, one of our four remaining refineries, the Kwinana refinery in Western Australia, announced on 30 October that it would close. On 14 December, Minister Taylor issued another announcement. Wait for this one. He said that the government was taking immediate and decisive action to keep our domestic refineries operating. On 10 February this year, two months later, Exxon announced it was closing its refinery in Altona. So, there were two big, flashy announcements that were supposed to create 1,000 jobs. Instead, we have two of our remaining four refineries closed, taking 950 jobs with them. One of these 950 workers is an Altona maintenance fitter, Tim Tomlinson. In February, he said:

It's devastating, definitely, this is the second time I've been through this … I used to work at another refinery in West Footscray until that shut down 10, 11 years ago. It's not good, we don’t know what the future is here … Manufacturing's just about gone in this country. What do we do? Where do we go now? Highly skilled jobs, and we've got nowhere to go.

When the Prime Minister shows up for the photo-op for a flashy announcement, it's workers like Tim who are left behind to pick up the pieces. These 950 direct jobs that are the thousands of jobs downstream from these refineries are being put at risk by six years of negligence and delay.

The Liberal government's flippant attitude towards the industry over the last six years is a disgrace. It's utter negligence towards thousands of Australian jobs. It's utter negligence towards our national security. We have the government talking about beating the drums of war with China when, according to the Australasian Refinery Operatives Committee, or AROC, most of our refined imports come from north Asia through the South China Sea. Not only have we had the Morrison government oversee the offshoring of our oil refining industry, but it has been outsourced to trade routes through the South China Sea. All the while, the Morrison government's top bureaucrats talk about beating the drums of war with China. Isn't that absolutely reckless? Australian Workers Union national secretary, Daniel Walton, has summed it all up well. He said, 'Relying on imports across the South China Sea is clearly something we cannot take for granted anymore.' He also said:

Being able to make our own fuel is a critical sovereign capability. Without it, our national and economic security are completely at the mercy of trade routes that are threatened by potential international conflict or pandemics.

It's just common sense to protect our national security. We must be able to make our own fuel and not depend on imports through the South China Sea.

While Labor supports this bill, it's important to understand that the Morrison government has been dragged to this point over six years. While the Prime Minister has been out doing photo ops and press releases, two of our remaining four refineries have closed. This bill is too little, too late for 950 workers at Altona and Kwinana. As recently as three years ago we imported only 60 per cent of our refined fuels. Imports now account for 90 per cent of our refined fuel sector. That increase has come under the leadership of Mr Morrison. He cannot shirk accountability for this one. He cannot shift blame for that to the state governments. It is his responsibility and that of this government.

This bill certainly does not address all the Prime Minister's gaping holes in our national security. We are still completely reliant on a fleet of foreign owned tankers, and those tankers are still crewed by foreign crews, who come into Australian ports with 24 hours notice. While Australian maritime workers wait three months for a security clearance, these same foreign seafarers, who are moving our fuel supplies along with many other supplies, get their security pass in 24 hours because there aren't proper checks. It's a national disgrace. While Australia's maritime workers wait for those three months, it's important that we don't have to wait six years to get that hole patched up.

1:07 pm

Photo of Pauline HansonPauline Hanson (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak on the Fuel Security Bill 2021. When I came into the Senate in 2016 I raised the importance of fuel security for all Australians. This and previous governments have continually failed to meet the internationally mandated 90 days stockpile of fuel for the people of this nation. That means this government has put at risk the fuel security of our daily transport needs: our defence, our aviation industry, our mining and our commuter needs. Without this internationally mandated 90-day stockpile of fuel, Australia risks coming to a grinding halt. My concerns were echoed by Senator Jim Molan when he entered the parliament in December 2017. What has happened over the last five years? Nothing.

If we go back to the year 2000, Australia had eight refineries that literally met the entire needs of our domestic refined fuel requirements. That is the same year Australia was manufacturing more than 320,000 new cars and over 23,000 commercial vehicles. Fast forward two decades, and Australia's self-sufficiency in the fuel space is going the same way as manufacturing. It's almost dead. Shamefully, in the space of four months, Australian oil refineries in Altona, owned by ExxonMobil, and Kwinana, owned by BP, announced they were closing half of this nation's remaining oil refineries. They suggested the facilities were no longer economically viable. How is that possible?

When I looked at the consolidated income statements of each of these oil companies operating in Australia, I saw that each of them is pulling in tens of billions of dollars of revenue each year from Australians. They drill the oil and gas. They send the bulk of it overseas to Asian markets that have cheap labour. Then we're forced to buy it back from foreign markets, where the oil companies have extracted the bulk of the jobs and profits that should belong to Australians.

Successive governments have squandered the opportunity to negotiate better deals for Australians off the back of these highly sought-after resources. And here we are today expected to pass legislation that will pay these same multinational oil companies $2.3 billion of taxpayers' money to continue refining activities until 2027 and, if we're lucky, until 2030. Well, I've got some bad news for this government: I'm not going to help pass a bill that takes us down the same path as the car industry, which received billions and billions of taxpayers' money only to close. I make no apologies for looking out for the best interests of Australian taxpayers. If we're going to pay $2.3 billion to secure Australia's fuel supply, the government should buy the Brisbane refinery in Lytton and let it become an asset owned by the Commonwealth. It would be a hell of a lot cheaper, and this government could then claim it has secured our refining capabilities well beyond 2030.

John F Kennedy was famous for saying: 'Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.' The truth is this government fears proper negotiations, because multinational companies have walked all over Scott Morrison, just as they did with Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott, Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd. I'll say it again: these overseas corporations come here, they drill and mine our resources, and then they pay little to no taxes. Paying oil refineries $2.3 billion to keep operating in this country is hardly in Australia's best interests. We don't get a single share in these facilities. Instead we hand over the cash and simply kiss it goodbye. Again I remind Labor and the Liberal and National parties what happened to Australia's car industry after they had been given tens of billions of dollars in subsidies. They took the cash and buggered off when it suited them. Now we import every single car and still impose a luxury car tax on buyers—a tax scheme that was designed to help save the Australian car industry. A big help that was! No wonder the government and Labor continue to reject my private senator's bill which amends the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act and calls on policymakers to ensure that the exploitation of these natural resources is for the benefit of the Australian community.

When I investigated how other countries dealt with multinational oil companies around the world, I discovered that Norway had struck the right chord for its citizens, earning $1.5 trillion from its commodities. Australia, on the other hand, last year took a measly $300 million in direct payments for $50 billion worth of gas off the North West Shelf. Meanwhile, Qatar traded slightly less gas than Australia and collected $26 billion in royalties. Can we honestly suggest that successive governments have negotiated the best deals on behalf of Australians when it comes to the resources of our nation? The answer is no.

This bill should be the new definition of insanity. While I strongly support fuel security in this nation, One Nation cannot and will not support the waste of $2.3 billion worth of taxpayers' money as a bandaid for the very real problem of fuel security in Australia. Australians will support me on this, because we've lost so much of our asset-making infrastructure over the period of successive governments. I talk of governments that have sold off to foreign multinationals the Commonwealth Bank, Telstra, power plants and lines, and airports, all of which were profitable for the government on behalf of the taxpayers. They have been sold off now and at a cost to the taxpayer. We are going to do exactly the same with this refinery. I said to the government: Buy it. Put in half your money that you're going to hand over to them. We will get absolutely nothing. We will have no skin in the game. We are not going to get anything back from them for a security of six years or, maybe, if we're lucky, nine years.

We hear Labor in here criticising the government. We have gone from eight refineries down to two and now they are criticising them because we won't have fuel security. That's exactly right. Yet what are they doing about it? What's the suggestion from Labor? It's only that they are going to support the bill. Where is their succession plan? If they were in government, what would they do about the refineries when this comes to an end? Are we going to still keep propping them up? The idea is that we have security by owning our own refinery. The government did tell me, 'We can't get public servants to run it.' Bloody oath, you wouldn't. You wouldn't want public servants running it, because they can't. They're useless. You'd get people who can run it properly at a profit for the Australian people to give us national security. You don't keep selling it and relying on Asia, because, the way China is positioning themselves in the South China Sea, who knows what's going to happen? We won't be able to provide the fuel that we need ourselves. Get the military to run it, if that be the case. We need oil refineries in our own name and providing our own fuel security.

It's not just about jobs. That's exactly why Labor are propping this up at the moment. They don't have any solutions. They don't have any ideas. They are just going along with this and they talk about the jobs. Senator Sheldon stands there talking about poor Tim, asking, 'What am I going to do; where's my job?' Your job can be in having our own oil refinery where we don't expect a company just six or nine years down the track is going to say: 'That's it. We're closed.' They usually hold the government to ransom, saying, 'You've got to pour more money into this.' We did that with the car industry for 20 years. It was half a billion dollars a year for 20 years. And what did that do? Nothing. We had nothing to gain from it. They ended up with the land and the facilities. We got nothing out of it. We had no skin in the game.

That's why Australians and I are fed up with seeing taxpayers' money basically pissed up against the wall. That is exactly what is happening. We should be responsible with the taxpayers' dollars and get back our Australian owned assets. When I went to Norway, their petroleum gas bill was only 25 pages long. Ours is 1,150 pages, with bandaids all the damn time. I can't get any support in this chamber to pass that part of the legislation that has been in Australia's best interests. The first line in Norway's bill is that it be in Norway's best interests. That's why they have $1.5 trillion in the bank for the people.

We are such a resource-rich country. I know why Labor aren't interested in propping up or building their own refinery. They won't get support from the Greens. They can only win the next election on Greens preferences. They know the Greens are totally against fossil fuels, so Labor are heading down the same path—that they don't want fossil fuels in this nation. They don't support the coal industry. They don't support the resource industry. They don't support gas. They don't support the mining that we have in this country. It's all smoke and mirrors. That's what this is all about. Yet they stand there and say that they care about the jobs in Australia. What a load of hogwash! I've heard it all now.

It's about finding solutions. It's about securing our security into the future for Australian jobs and not relying on other countries to meet our needs. What is going to happen when we don't have the fuel for our defence, for our commuters, for our airports, for our planes—for everything? I would like to know what they are going to do then. How is either side going to handle that?

1:19 pm

Photo of Malcolm RobertsMalcolm Roberts (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | | Hansard source

As a servant to the people of Queensland and Australia, I note that while the government's bill has some merit it raises far more questions than it answers. Before proceeding, I want to compliment Senator Hanson on her comments. At last, someone's standing up for Australia. We understand that the government has a dilemma, because the government and the Labor Party have deferred—put off—a decision on fuel security for years. In that deferral, putting it off, they have put our nation into an almost impossible position. And still, through this bill, the government shows that it has not faced up to the issue of fuel security. Let me remind everyone: energy is crucial to human progress.

One hundred and seventy years ago was the start of the industrial revolution. Look how far we've come. Look at everything in this room. Look at everything around you—in a city, in a town, while you're driving in a car. That has come in the last 170 years. Why? Sure, it has been human creativity but, above all, it has been the relentless ever-decreasing real price of energy. Electricity was unheard of 170 years ago. Coal-fired power stations and petroleum powered cars were unheard of, undreamt of, 170 years ago. A king 200 years ago would not have lived as easily, as safely, as comfortably, as well, as long as people on welfare today. That shows remarkable human progress.

Senator Hanson and I raised energy security in 2016. The government avoided the decision. Now the Liberal-National coalition want to push it out to 2027. They want to avoid it again. It has deferred the decision again, and Labor will support them. So much for job security and investment across all industries. The key to driving an economy is low energy prices and energy security. That's what brings investment for future jobs. Now, in response, what we see is a lack of thought and a lazy, lazy approach.

Why? Why do so many so-called solutions of the Liberal, Labor and National parties end up being, simply, a gift of taxpayer money to multinationals who are not taxed? Why does the government have a fetish for labelling bills with the word 'security'? I'll tell you why. It attracts votes, even if the bill does not provide security. Australians love security. All humans love security. We've had cybersecurity, border security, energy security, internet safety security and data security, often hiding a lack of security. When it comes to votes, Labor and Liberal know the word 'security' buys votes. Yet the word itself—security—is not real security. All three tired old parties repeatedly fail to provide real, meaningful, lasting security. They refuse to get back to basics and the truth.

We know that job security is important. We want it beyond 2027, though, for the jobs of refinery workers, construction workers and, when we get back to cheap, reliable fuel, all workers across all industries, including agriculture, not just manufacturing and services. Two refineries have recently shut. That was half of our refineries. We have to do something, then, to ensure future fuel security. The government's attempts simply reduce the risk for refineries. We understand why. But taxpayers pay for that, and at the end of the deal in 2027 we have nothing to show for it—nothing, zip. So where's the government's energy plan? A plan is not a plan without addressing the five Ws and one H. That's a simple management tool, management concept: Why? What? When? Where? Who? Then comes: How?

This government, like so many Liberal-National and Labor governments, goes straight to the 'How?' missing the specifics, the actions, the time lines, the responsibilities, the justification of cost-benefit analysis and a business plan. Government plans that jump straight to the 'How?' are not plans, unless the five Ws are addressed. Look at climate. Look at energy. The same applies everywhere. Look at the NDIS. Look at education. They are fundamentals that are really important for our country.

Why does the government repeatedly avoid facts and data and a disciplined, objective approach to policy and, instead, adopt media lines and pander to Greens ideology and drive policies in accordance with then Senator Mathias Cormann's often repeated dictum, 'We will fulfil our global obligations'?

What he means is and what he meant was: our obligations to globalists. We are the world's largest exporter of energy, largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, second largest exporter of coal. We were the largest and we still have the highest quality coal but we have been overtaken by Indonesia as the largest exporter. Yet we have the world's highest domestic gas prices and electricity prices, now three times that of countries who use our coal to generate their electricity. Three times our prices using our coal—why? Why can't we use our own gas domestically? Why can't we build a transnational pipeline to bring North West Shelf gas to the east and convert it to produce liquid fuels like petrol and diesel? The gas is suitable. Why can't we use the gas itself to power cars directly? Why can't we brainstorm and discuss alternatives, many alternatives, in the national interest?

Consider what the government says is a solution. The government will pay up to $2 billion to multinationals to keep them here. Remember the car makers, as Senator Hanson reminded us? We paid them billions to stay here and then they left and, as a final insult, sold their factories and their land to developers and pocketed the cash, after we gifted them so much taxpayer cash. Is this a solution, when in 2027 the oil companies can simply leave, run away, after we give them up to $2 billion along the way? Liberal-Labor put off making a decision and now, when our country has self-inflected deeper problems, make a half-baked solution that really defers it again until 2027, when we will have to face up to it again. Why? Because we haven't faced up to it now. Why? Because the government lacks the will to listen and to do something novel and appropriate for the people of Australia and their national interest. Just as Senator Hanson recounted, Norway is doing something in its national interest.

In 2027 then what? China and our Asian competitors will, rightly, continue using hydrocarbon fuels like natural gas, coal and oil. For decades, we have had a small volume market. How can we compete with Singapore and China in refining fuels and do so with fair wages for good workers in this country? Here is a hint: energy. Singapore lacks any resources apart from human resources—a well-educated, industrious people—but it has solid stable governance that puts Singapore first. It has a superior tax system, a superior education system, superior governance focused on Singapore's national interest.

China, it takes a different strategy, one that won't last but here is what it does: it exploits labour, sacrifices the environment, sacrifices worker safety. We can compete because we have Australian management and leadership; we just need to let it have a go—our energy combined with our people, Australians, Australian workers and our executive leadership in business.

Other facts need consideration. The government repeatedly bet on technology that's unproven and very expensive. They're dreaming about hydrogen that currently costs about $6 a kilogram to produce and say they have a vision for $2 a kilogram. Even at $2 a kilogram, the electricity cost is $200 per megawatt hour, four times the price that coal can do it now. So in their dream, they're going to send us bankrupt. Solar is another one of their dreams—dependence on China, who makes the damn things, cost, reliability, unreliability, instability, the loss of jobs. This is what the government is dreaming about. Wind—same applies—dependence on China, cost, reliability, stability, instability and loss of jobs. China, meanwhile, continues building coal-fired power stations. In its Paris Agreement, it has to do nothing until 2030 and then maybe it will think about it.

We have abundant clean goal and gas; we should be the super power, as we were when international investors flocked to the Hunter Valley, Central Queensland and Victoria to build aluminium refineries near cheap abundant coal. Those jobs are gone and, under current Liberal-Labor-Nationals policies, the few that remain in aluminium are doomed. Instead, the trio put bets on unproven, pixie farts for energy and stake Australia's energy on rainbow-coloured unicorns in some imaginary Garden of Eden in the future. It abandons workers and the people of Australia. It abandons our country. It is hollow rhetoric keeping people ignorant, hollow rhetoric destroying our economy, hollow rhetoric destroying our national future.

So, let's consider some possible options. What about this? Create a corporation to run the refineries. Issue government bonds, with bonds investing in the corporation in the same way we do with low-income housing. Buy the damned assets. Use the bond funds to buy oil and build additional fuel storage. Modernise the refineries to produce high-quality fuel to international standards. Fill up the oil tanks at startup to eliminate risks in the market. Once it's up and running, sell 49 per cent of the ownership in the refinery on the stock market and invest the other 51 per cent with the Future Fund. That's its job: holding assets on behalf of the Australian people to produce future income for future generations and ensure future fuel security. Government absorbs the initial risk—in the proven refineries, anyway—with proven personal enterprise, with oil industry executives managing the business and with proven executives and proven workers running the show, combined with accountability from the stock market.

The benefits are that Australians own the business, taxes stay here and the overall cost to taxpayers is considerably less, because we'd sell off half the enterprise. And the purchase price for an abandoned asset would be very low. People would buy shares because the risk is in setting up the venture and the asset would be stable. Fuel storage would work exactly as it does now on our overseas storage: buy when prices are low and sell when prices are high, to drive down prices at times of high prices, as with our existing International Energy Agency commitments. Major fuel producers would buy shares to get access to trading in stored oil. We could make extra money storing oil for other nations—Pacific countries, Indonesia.

Alternatively: fuel security is ultimately a matter of defence security. Has anyone in the government considered taking the refineries and getting the defence forces to operate the refineries in 2027? Or the government could, as a minimum, simply take the refineries' land if refiners close down and leave. If they shut up shop after we gift them billions, why not take their real estate? We need some skin in the game, as Senator Hanson said. We need something for our money. Get the land as partial payment.

Another issue: tax oil companies fairly. Stop giving foreign multinationals a free ride. They exploit our resources, use our assets, use our services, use our trained people, and rely on our defence forces and our laws—for free, damn it! They don't pay for any of it. Fix the tax system. Start with taxing multinationals. Jim Killaly, the former deputy assistant commissioner for taxation, in charge of large companies and foreign taxation, said, in 1996 and in 2010, that 90 per cent of Australia's large companies are foreign owned and since 1953 have paid little or no company tax. The government needs to establish honest energy policies across all our energy needs and invest in infrastructure to restore our nation's productive capacity. It needs to restore national sovereignty, to restore good governance based on data and facts and on putting the national interest first.

All these would be enormous changes from current government approaches—decades of such approaches. They would be a return to our nation's roots and the time when Australia led the world in per capita income. Instead, the government's approach is a short-term bandaid at best. And 2027 is not the end. We need to think and prepare for beyond that. Liberal, Nationals and Labor governments, for the past three decades, have thought that 'long-term' means just two budget cycles: two years—that's it. Australians deserve better—far, far better.

This bill is not even a bandaid. It's a deferral, a putting off. It's Labor, Liberals and the Nationals playing hide-and-seek, hiding the reality from the public. It confirms this government's incompetence and laziness and continues decades of poor, dishonest and accountable governance. Now, I'm all for personal enterprise—or, as some may say, private enterprise. I'm all for security. Instead of repeated gutless bandaids and short-term fixes, where's the long-term solution? Where's the vision? Where's the national interest? Let's secure our nation's future with a comprehensive solution that addresses the basics for all Australians: job security, industry security and national security.

1:34 pm

Photo of Amanda StokerAmanda Stoker (Queensland, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to close debate on the Fuel Security Bill 2021 and the Fuel Security (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2021. These bills are critical to fulfilling the government's ongoing commitment to ensure long-term fuel security in Australia, supporting our economy and keeping our critical services running.

The Fuel Security Bill addresses the need to safeguard our country against disruptions in the market and the need to ensure that Australians have access to reliable and affordable energy. Through these bills, we are placing a minimum stockholding obligation on industry, requiring a percentage of their total import and production volumes to be stored in Australia. Not only will that improve our domestic security but it will assist Australia to meet the 90-day stockholding obligation that it has as a member of the International Energy Agency.

The fuel security services payment is also a critical measure of this bill. By providing an adjustable cent-per-litre payment to market conditions—linked, in a sense—we are supporting domestic refineries to only limit their downside risk. This will mean that we are providing support only when it's truly needed and that we're not making payments when times are good. We will also further protect our taxpayers by ensuring that this payment is capped at 1.8c per litre and by having a comprehensive compliance and monitoring framework in place.

If we lose the last two refineries we have in Australia, we will lose the last of our ability to refine fuel onshore and the ability to refine domestic crude oil in an emergency. Any risk to that capability is simply not acceptable. Without the measures in this bill, it's very likely that Australia's remaining refineries will close within the next five years, leaving our country 100 per cent dependent on international supply chains for our petroleum products.

Through these bills, the government will also protect 1,250 workers employed across the Ampol and Viva refineries. A further 1,750 construction jobs will be created for the major infrastructure upgrades that are needed, and another 1,000 jobs created to support the construction of new diesel storage. The government has already secured the agreement of the Ampol refinery in Brisbane and the Viva Energy refinery in Geelong to operate until at least—at a minimum—30 June 2027 if these bills are successful, although of course our objective is much longer term.

Similarly, the Fuel Security (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill ensures that the minimum stockholding obligation and the fuel security services payment will operate as intended. It will also allow for the proper monitoring of the integrity of both measures and will reduce the regulatory burden on the industry.

In closing, Australia is dependent on a strong and stable fuel market to thrive, and action to support the security of that fuel will be delivered through these bills. I thank my colleagues for their consideration of the bills and commend them to the Senate.

Photo of Slade BrockmanSlade Brockman (WA, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that the amendment moved by Senator Rice be agreed to.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (13:46): The question now is that the bills be read a second time.