Interview with Gareth Parker, 6PR

Gareth Parker

GARETH PARKER: The Energy Minister federally is Angus Taylor. Minister, good morning. 

ANGUS TAYLOR: Good morning, Gareth. Thanks for having me.

GARETH PARKER: Sure. You and I have talked in the past about this AdBlue shortage. You've got some good news to report today?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Sure do. Last week, we had 3 million litres of AdBlue produced in Australia by Incitec Pivot, which is 75 per cent of our national demand. That's ramped up by 800 per cent. So they were a very small provider. They're now providing three-quarters of the market and growing. What it's meant is that we've got a lot more supply coming into the market. We've got a B-double leaving Brisbane, where they're producing it, every 20 minutes to go across Australia and that means we're replenishing our stocks. We're restocking those areas where we saw the stockouts and we're seeing really significant improvements in the position so we'll keep pushing on this. For those of you listeners who aren't across the AdBlue issue, if we ran out of AdBlue, the trucks would stop and many cars would stop, too. Indeed, my car requires AdBlue and many do. So this is a really critical issue we've had to deal with over the Christmas/New Year period. 

GARETH PARKER: So how have they been able to ramp that up so quickly and is it likely that they will continue to produce at those levels?

ANGUS TAYLOR: They'll produce at those levels whilst we need it. They've been able to do it because the input for AdBlue is urea, which is fertiliser farmers use to make their crops and pastures grow and we've been able to switch that urea over from being agricultural urea to the higher grade urea we need for AdBlue. So it's been a really terrific collaboration between a local producer and the government and that's enabled us to make that switch very, very quickly and get ourselves into a position where we're not having shortages and we're managing this difficult issue in a way which is giving us the outcome we need.

GARETH PARKER: When you and I last spoke about this issue, Minister, we talked about sort of more permanent onshoring of this production capacity so that we're less reliant on imports, particularly from China. Do you think that the longer-term supply gap is an issue that is, well have we made any progress on it?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, it's certainly an issue we're starting to work through. We had to deal with this short term issue, which would have meant trucks stopping over Christmas and New Year. Of course, they haven't and we've been able to manage the situation, but now we have the breathing space to start thinking about making sure we've got the long term supply we need, just like we need diesel supplies, petrol supplies. These are critical inputs that we've got to have access to. We can't afford to have shortages and that's certainly the focus of the government.

GARETH PARKER: Okay. The ACCC is keeping an eye on this as well. The competition watchdog monitoring pricing closely because I think there were reports before Christmas that the price had tripled. What have you observed about pricing?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Yeah, it's a good question. Look we've spoken to the producers and made it very clear we expect them to price fairly and we've commissioned the ACCC to get involved and they've done exactly that. So they're keeping an eye on this. I mean there’s no doubt the price of urea has gone up, but there was some price gouging and particularly some reselling – a little bit like ticket scalping, which I know the producers are managing very carefully. We are keeping a close eye on it and we will continue to. The extra supply coming into the market though is always the best answer for preventing that kind of outcome because it means if someone's trying to hike the price, there's alternatives around at a more reasonable price and that's certainly what we're starting to see now, that this extra supply is having a real impact.

GARETH PARKER: Minister, thanks for your time this morning.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Good on you. Thanks, Gareth.