COVID-19 OFFERS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR GENUINE FUEL SECURITY

MARK BUTLER MP.
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1 month ago
COVID-19 OFFERS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR GENUINE FUEL SECURITY
MARK BUTLER MP
Australia relies on shipping to move 99 per cent of our imports and exports, including fuel. 

The current COVID-19 emergency has seen fuel prices fall to record lows. Labor urges the Government to use this opportunity to increase our nation’s fuel security. 

While Labor supports recent Government actions to secure additional fuel reserves, stockpiling it in the USA means it is not accessible in times of emergency. Seeking to transport fuel in a foreign flagged vessel in times of crisis or conflict is extremely difficult.

Australia currently relies almost entirely on foreign flagged vessel to meet our fuel and other freight needs. In times of national crisis or emergency, we need to be able to call on Australian flagged vessels with Australian crews to transport our fuel and other essential resources.  

In just 30 years the number of Australian-flagged vessels has shrunk from 100 to just over ten. It is clearly in our national interest to change that. 

For the past six years the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government has stood idle as large multinationals dumped Australian flagged and crewed vessels so they could hire overseas crews.

This has destroyed the jobs of Australian seafarers and created a situation where none of the vessels our nation relies upon to deliver our essential supplies of crude oil, aviation fuel and diesel are registered in this country or crewed by Australians.

By comparison, Norway has 519 vessels carrying the Norwegian flag, the United Kingdom has 1157 flagged vessels and China has 4608 flagged vessels.

Federal Labor believes that an expanded Australian maritime sector is vital to our economic sovereignty and national security. 

Labor calls on the Government to recognise that a commitment to a strong Australian maritime industry is essential to our national security – because that is the only way we can truly ensure our fuel and supply chain security in times of global instability or emergency.

The Government must take these issues more seriously.  Their commitment to fuel security cannot be allowed to start and end with stockpiling fuel in the United States.

The Morrison Government needs to recognise Australia’s vulnerability due to a lack of our own sizeable merchant fleet.