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Howard's band-aid approach to oil crises.

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ALP News Statements

Joel Fitzgibbon

Shadow Minister for Mining, Energy

and Forestry

Media Statement

21 August 2004

Howard’s Band-aid approach to Oil crises.

John Howard has finally woken up to the fact that we have an oil price crisis, but is talking about no more than a band-aid measure which would do nothing to address Australia's dependence on imported oil.

The Howard Government's announcement of a plan to protect Australia's oil supply represents damage control spin designed to distract attention away from its role in forcing up petrol prices and its failure to produce a strategy to address Australia's growing oil import dependency.

When the Prime Minister released his discredited Energy White Paper in June he stated: “the level of security in transport fuels is not currently under threat.”

Two months on, with petrol prices rising and with his election stocks falling, the Prime Minister appears to have woken up to the looming oil supply crisis which Labor has warning of for the past 12 months.

Yet the Howard government still has no strategy to address Australia's rapidly growing oil import dependency.

Australia is consuming oil three times faster than it is finding it and has been doing so for the past seven years.

Copying the USA's strategic reserve to protect the Australian economy from supply disruptions may have merit, but at a cost of more than $1 billion for less than a month’s supply.

Where is the real plan to reduce Australia's long term exposure to supply disruption, the whims of OPEC and instability in the Middle East?

Meanwhile, Australia has 140 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, some of which could be transformed into ultra-clean synthetic diesel and jet fuel using available technology that is commercial at oil prices above about US$28.

To meet just half of Australia's current demand for refined products for the next 30 years, Australia would need to use only about 45 trillion cubic feet of gas, or less than a third of our known reserves, leaving plenty for export markets.

The Howard Government has an "LNG Action Agenda" for exporting our abundant reserves of

natural gas but no plan for our own domestic needs. A Latham Labor Government will give the task of bringing more of our offshore gas reserves onshore and establishing a gas to liquids industry the priority it requires and deserves.