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Tuesday, 8 May 2018
Page: 3261


Mr KATTER (Kennedy) (14:26): My question is to the Minister for Home Affairs. Are you aware that a report for Australia's principal representative of motoring, the NRMA, by Air Vice Marshal Blackburn said we need clear government assurances that adequate Australian controlled fuel sources exist to supply essential needs in any disruption, whether by political terrorists or armed conflict? In 2014, there was 23 days supply. Minister Frydenberg has announced shrinkage to only 20 days. Will government deliver mandating and action as taken in the US, which is delivering 24 per cent shale oil and 10 per cent ethanol, providing vital security of supply and $7 billion a year in import replacement, and overcoming Frydenberg's shrinkage as well?

Mr DUTTON (DicksonMinister for Home Affairs and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection) (14:27): I presume the last part's out of order, Mr Speaker, so I'll concentrate on the earlier remarks. The member raises a very serious issue, and I want to thank him very much for his passion in relation to fuel security. I direct him to the government's response to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security report on the Security of Critical Infrastructure Bill 2017. The whole-of-government response said in part:

The risk of espionage, sabotage and coercive influence in Australia's domestic liquid fuel refinement part of the supply chain has been assessed as relatively low, due to the sector's diversity and the resilience of the market system to respond to any disruption at a particular location.

But the response went on to say:

However, the sector is heavily reliant on imports, and critical port infrastructure. The infrastructure at ports that support imports of liquid fuel was a key factor in determining which ports are captured by the Bill. The critical ports captured by the Bill provide 92% of total liquid fuels imports.

We went on to respond in this way:

… the Government agrees that fuel supply is a critical issue. As such, the Committee's concerns, including whether liquid fuel assets should be covered by the Bill, will be considered in the next National Energy Security Assessment.

I'm going to ask the Minister for the Environment and Energy to add to the answer, because he has just announced a review in relation to the issue, but it is obviously a serious issue, and I acknowledge his interest in this matter.

The SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business.

Mr Burke: Ordinarily it's the Prime Minister who delegates to different ministers. If the Minister for Home Affairs has now assumed that role, the House should be advised.

The SPEAKER: No, Manager of Opposition Business.

Mr Burke: But he doesn't get to pick, unless the Prime Minister gives an indication. Ministers can't, halfway through, say, 'I don't want to answer anymore; I'll flick-pass to one of my colleagues.'

The SPEAKER: I think you'll find that's not right. Ordinarily it's right. Ordinarily it is the Prime Minister who's been asked the question, but it is within the practice and there is some precedent for it.

Mr FRYDENBERG (KooyongMinister for the Environment and Energy) (14:29): While the Labor Party doesn't think this is a serious issue, we on this side of the House understand its importance and we understand the nature of the question from the member for Kennedy. The fact of the matter is that Australia's liquid fuels—that is, petrol, diesel, jet fuel—are extremely important. We are importing 75 per cent of our crude and more than 55 per cent of our refined product, and we're increasing our reliance on imports. Over the last decade, three out of our seven refineries have closed and our domestic oil production has decreased by one-third as some of the existing oil fields are exhausted. So, we're working with the International Energy Agency and we're working across government on this.

I note the interest paid by members of this side of the House to this issue, including the member for Canning, and Senator Molan and Senator Fawcett, who have also raised issues related to fuel security. The report by the Department of the Environment and Energy will be back to government before the end of the year and will form part of our NOPSEMA report in 2019.

The SPEAKER: Just before I call the member for Chisholm, on the point of order by the Manager of Opposition Business: it was a reasonable point of order, given the circumstances. The Prime Minister of course can refer a question to any of his ministers within their portfolio area. Where a question relates to the responsibilities of both ministers, it is open and reasonable that that occurs. So, the Minister for the Environment and Energy—the question related to his portfolio responsibilities. The Minister for Home Affairs simply couldn't refer the allotted remaining time to another minister. I hope that clarifies things. That was perfectly in order.