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Emergency fuel reserve should be in Australia

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10 March 2020

The Australian Government should not have agreed to lease space in the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve and should, instead, store an emergency reserve here, Australian Trucking Association (ATA) Chair Geoff Crouch said today. 

“Liquid fuel is critical to trucking and critical for our economy. This is both a national economic issue and a national security issue,” Mr Crouch said.  

“The United States is on the other side of a very wide ocean. The arrangement to meet Australia’s fuel security obligations by tapping into the US reserve is simply not realistic,” he said. 

At the end of 2019, Australia had just 24 consumption days of petrol and 22 consumption days of diesel in stock. 

“Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor has previously stated that it could take up to 40 days for fuel to make its way from the US to Australia. That’s up to 16 days that Australia would be brought to a standstill with no access to fuel,” Mr Crouch said. 

“Without trucks and the fuel that powers them, Australia stops. As most commodities produced or consumed in Australia are delivered by road, no fuel means supermarkets would go empty, medicines wouldn’t get delivered and rubbish bins wouldn’t get emptied,” he said.   

The ATA and its members have been campaigning since 2014 about Australia’s fuel security and in 2019 made a detailed submission to the liquid fuel security review, concerned the government has unrealistic expectations about what would happen in a fuel shortage emergency. 

“We’re calling for domestic fuel security as well as the need to address the legal uncertainties that trucking businesses would face if expected by government to prioritise the delivery of particular goods during a fuel emergency,” Mr Crouch said. 

“During a fuel emergency, there would be no guarantee that trucking businesses would have the commercial ability to implement government priorities. With our supply chains increasingly operating on a just-in-time delivery model, once trucks stop we quickly start running out of consumer goods.” 

The ATA and its member associations collectively represent the 50,000 businesses and 200,000 people in the Australian trucking industry. Together, the ATA and its members are committed to safety, professionalism and viability.