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Tuesday, 22 June 2021
Page: 11


Senator HANSON (QueenslandLeader of Pauline Hanson's One Nation) (13:07): I rise to speak on the Fuel Security Bill 2021. When I came into the Senate in 2016 I raised the importance of fuel security for all Australians. This and previous governments have continually failed to meet the internationally mandated 90 days stockpile of fuel for the people of this nation. That means this government has put at risk the fuel security of our daily transport needs: our defence, our aviation industry, our mining and our commuter needs. Without this internationally mandated 90-day stockpile of fuel, Australia risks coming to a grinding halt. My concerns were echoed by Senator Jim Molan when he entered the parliament in December 2017. What has happened over the last five years? Nothing.

If we go back to the year 2000, Australia had eight refineries that literally met the entire needs of our domestic refined fuel requirements. That is the same year Australia was manufacturing more than 320,000 new cars and over 23,000 commercial vehicles. Fast forward two decades, and Australia's self-sufficiency in the fuel space is going the same way as manufacturing. It's almost dead. Shamefully, in the space of four months, Australian oil refineries in Altona, owned by ExxonMobil, and Kwinana, owned by BP, announced they were closing half of this nation's remaining oil refineries. They suggested the facilities were no longer economically viable. How is that possible?

When I looked at the consolidated income statements of each of these oil companies operating in Australia, I saw that each of them is pulling in tens of billions of dollars of revenue each year from Australians. They drill the oil and gas. They send the bulk of it overseas to Asian markets that have cheap labour. Then we're forced to buy it back from foreign markets, where the oil companies have extracted the bulk of the jobs and profits that should belong to Australians.

Successive governments have squandered the opportunity to negotiate better deals for Australians off the back of these highly sought-after resources. And here we are today expected to pass legislation that will pay these same multinational oil companies $2.3 billion of taxpayers' money to continue refining activities until 2027 and, if we're lucky, until 2030. Well, I've got some bad news for this government: I'm not going to help pass a bill that takes us down the same path as the car industry, which received billions and billions of taxpayers' money only to close. I make no apologies for looking out for the best interests of Australian taxpayers. If we're going to pay $2.3 billion to secure Australia's fuel supply, the government should buy the Brisbane refinery in Lytton and let it become an asset owned by the Commonwealth. It would be a hell of a lot cheaper, and this government could then claim it has secured our refining capabilities well beyond 2030.

John F Kennedy was famous for saying: 'Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.' The truth is this government fears proper negotiations, because multinational companies have walked all over Scott Morrison, just as they did with Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott, Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd. I'll say it again: these overseas corporations come here, they drill and mine our resources, and then they pay little to no taxes. Paying oil refineries $2.3 billion to keep operating in this country is hardly in Australia's best interests. We don't get a single share in these facilities. Instead we hand over the cash and simply kiss it goodbye. Again I remind Labor and the Liberal and National parties what happened to Australia's car industry after they had been given tens of billions of dollars in subsidies. They took the cash and buggered off when it suited them. Now we import every single car and still impose a luxury car tax on buyers—a tax scheme that was designed to help save the Australian car industry. A big help that was! No wonder the government and Labor continue to reject my private senator's bill which amends the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act and calls on policymakers to ensure that the exploitation of these natural resources is for the benefit of the Australian community.

When I investigated how other countries dealt with multinational oil companies around the world, I discovered that Norway had struck the right chord for its citizens, earning $1.5 trillion from its commodities. Australia, on the other hand, last year took a measly $300 million in direct payments for $50 billion worth of gas off the North West Shelf. Meanwhile, Qatar traded slightly less gas than Australia and collected $26 billion in royalties. Can we honestly suggest that successive governments have negotiated the best deals on behalf of Australians when it comes to the resources of our nation? The answer is no.

This bill should be the new definition of insanity. While I strongly support fuel security in this nation, One Nation cannot and will not support the waste of $2.3 billion worth of taxpayers' money as a bandaid for the very real problem of fuel security in Australia. Australians will support me on this, because we've lost so much of our asset-making infrastructure over the period of successive governments. I talk of governments that have sold off to foreign multinationals the Commonwealth Bank, Telstra, power plants and lines, and airports, all of which were profitable for the government on behalf of the taxpayers. They have been sold off now and at a cost to the taxpayer. We are going to do exactly the same with this refinery. I said to the government: Buy it. Put in half your money that you're going to hand over to them. We will get absolutely nothing. We will have no skin in the game. We are not going to get anything back from them for a security of six years or, maybe, if we're lucky, nine years.

We hear Labor in here criticising the government. We have gone from eight refineries down to two and now they are criticising them because we won't have fuel security. That's exactly right. Yet what are they doing about it? What's the suggestion from Labor? It's only that they are going to support the bill. Where is their succession plan? If they were in government, what would they do about the refineries when this comes to an end? Are we going to still keep propping them up? The idea is that we have security by owning our own refinery. The government did tell me, 'We can't get public servants to run it.' Bloody oath, you wouldn't. You wouldn't want public servants running it, because they can't. They're useless. You'd get people who can run it properly at a profit for the Australian people to give us national security. You don't keep selling it and relying on Asia, because, the way China is positioning themselves in the South China Sea, who knows what's going to happen? We won't be able to provide the fuel that we need ourselves. Get the military to run it, if that be the case. We need oil refineries in our own name and providing our own fuel security.

It's not just about jobs. That's exactly why Labor are propping this up at the moment. They don't have any solutions. They don't have any ideas. They are just going along with this and they talk about the jobs. Senator Sheldon stands there talking about poor Tim, asking, 'What am I going to do; where's my job?' Your job can be in having our own oil refinery where we don't expect a company just six or nine years down the track is going to say: 'That's it. We're closed.' They usually hold the government to ransom, saying, 'You've got to pour more money into this.' We did that with the car industry for 20 years. It was half a billion dollars a year for 20 years. And what did that do? Nothing. We had nothing to gain from it. They ended up with the land and the facilities. We got nothing out of it. We had no skin in the game.

That's why Australians and I are fed up with seeing taxpayers' money basically pissed up against the wall. That is exactly what is happening. We should be responsible with the taxpayers' dollars and get back our Australian owned assets. When I went to Norway, their petroleum gas bill was only 25 pages long. Ours is 1,150 pages, with bandaids all the damn time. I can't get any support in this chamber to pass that part of the legislation that has been in Australia's best interests. The first line in Norway's bill is that it be in Norway's best interests. That's why they have $1.5 trillion in the bank for the people.

We are such a resource-rich country. I know why Labor aren't interested in propping up or building their own refinery. They won't get support from the Greens. They can only win the next election on Greens preferences. They know the Greens are totally against fossil fuels, so Labor are heading down the same path—that they don't want fossil fuels in this nation. They don't support the coal industry. They don't support the resource industry. They don't support gas. They don't support the mining that we have in this country. It's all smoke and mirrors. That's what this is all about. Yet they stand there and say that they care about the jobs in Australia. What a load of hogwash! I've heard it all now.

It's about finding solutions. It's about securing our security into the future for Australian jobs and not relying on other countries to meet our needs. What is going to happen when we don't have the fuel for our defence, for our commuters, for our airports, for our planes—for everything? I would like to know what they are going to do then. How is either side going to handle that?