A new cash splash from the Morrison government to stimulate the struggling oil refinement industry has instantly slid in popularity as an industry peak body has claimed that the allocation of $250 million is merely a “drop in the refinery”.
Following an announcement from Prime Minister Scott Morrison while on the electoral campaign trail that the Commonwealth will allocate a quarter of a billion dollars to subsidise Australia’s aging oil refinery infrastructure, the Smart Energy Council (SEC) wasted no time in slamming the package as not being enough to sustain Australia’s fuel security.
Unimpressed by the federal government’s persistent focus on keeping Australia’s legacy oil refinement plants on life support while other renewable and sustainable industries are gaining traction, the SEC’s chief executive John Grimes feels the government is ignoring a major energy crisis fomenting beneath the surface.
“After nine years of inaction from the federal government, Australia is facing a genuine fuel security crisis. If Australia’s supply routes are blocked, we have at most three weeks of supply before we run out of petrol and diesel,” Mr Grimes said.
Accusing Australia’s fuel security of being an “absolute disgrace”, he sounded the alarm on a “desperate need” for a national fuel security policy and a national energy policy.
“Scott Morrison’s gift to the oil companies and a short-term drop in fuel excise is no substitute for a comprehensive plan,” Mr Grimes said.
Essentially condemning the allocation of $125 million to Viva Energy Australia and Ampol each at their respective refineries at Geelong and Lytton as analogous to “putting $1 in the tank when you’re running out of petrol” while addressing a fuel crisis, he said “we cannot dither any longer”.
“We need national leadership on this critical issue,” he said.
Another thorn in the SEC’s side is the Morrison government’s landmark Fuel Security Services Payment (FSSP), ensuring oil refineries operate until at least mid-2027, as well as its policy in finalising a ‘minimum stockholding obligation’, and co-investing $260 million in new diesel storages that will lead to a 40 per cent boost in Australia’s diesel stockholdings.
Due to the SEC’s penchant for promoting renewable energy solutions as opposed to fossil fuels, Mr Grimes pleaded with the government to invest more in electric vehicles and zero emissions transport, renewable energy and renewable hydrogen, “creating the jobs and industries of the future”.
But the federal government might beg to differ on the SEC’s accusations of fossil fuel bias, as it already backs EV charging infrastructure through its expanded $250 million Future Fuels Fund, including $178 million of new funding for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
Additionally, the federal government has committed $2.1 billion to help increase the uptake of low and zero emissions vehicle technologies, as well as more than $1.5 billion to grow the Australian hydrogen industry.
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