A group of stakeholders in the automotive and transport industry has issued a call on the Federal Government to prepare a comprehensive Transport Energy Plan for Australia to ensure protection in the event of disruption to national fuel supplies.
The joint statement, issued by a group including NatRoad, the Truck Industry Council, National Farmers’ Federation, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Energy Supply Association of Australia, and Gas Energy Australia, points out the federal government’s Energy Green Paper acknowledges the problem of energy security but does not fully explain the risks to the Australian public.
The group statement points out transport fuel is the lifeblood of our society and our economy. Disruption to transport fuel supplies would quickly be felt across all parts of society and across every sector of our economy. Stockholding for vital goods (such as medicines, foods and transport fuel itself) can be as little as 3 to10 days at the point of sale in many cases.
In an increasingly volatile world, severe disruption of our fuel supplies could have catastrophic economic impacts including disruption to food supplies, medical and hospital supplies, military capability, emergency services and our general social cohesion.
The statement also talks about Australia’s dependence on imports of oil and oil-derived fuels, which has grown from 60 per cent in 2000 to over 90 per cent today. The period between 2012 and 2015 will see a reduction of 40 per cent in our national oil refining capacity.
“We call on the Government to review the risks and implications of current industry trends on the security and diversity of Australia’s fuel mix, economic productivity and environmental outcomes,” says the joint statement. “The Transport Energy Plan should include a clear commitment from the Government that a secure, affordable and sustainable transport energy supply is fundamental to Australia’s safety and prosperity.”
Similar calls for action to combat declining fuel security are expected soon from reports to be released by Engineers Australia and a consortium of leading research bodies including the UNSW, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, CSIRO, Geoscience Australia, the Grattan Institute, the South Australian Department of State Development, the United States Studies Centre and the CO2CRC.
“True transport energy resilience will be achieved when Australia can sustain an adequate flow of transport energy to meet critical demand under adverse conditions,” continues the statement. “Australia has options to improve the efficiency of transport fuel use and to produce a proportion of its own transport fuels. Some examples include natural gas, LPG, biofuels and electrical energy. Domestic production from these alternative sources would not only increase the nation’s energy resilience but also improve our terms of trade and create thousands of jobs.”
The group calls on the Government to review the risks and implications of current industry trends on the security and diversity of Australia’s fuel mix, economic productivity and environmental outcomes. The statement says a Transport Energy Plan should include a clear commitment from the Government that a secure, affordable and sustainable transport energy supply is fundamental to Australia’s safety and prosperity.