Second Reading - Fuel Security Bill 2021


Senator STOKER (Queensland—Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General, Assistant Minister for Women and Assistant Minister for Industrial Relations) (13:34): 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.