Press conference, Sydney
14 September 2020
Subject: Australia's fuel security
ANGUS TAYLOR: Today we've announced a major new package to shore up Australia's fuel security. This will deliver a range of benefits. First of all, it's designed to put downward pressure on prices and ensure that consumers have a reliable, affordable supply of liquid fuels - of diesel, petrol - they need to live their lives and get on with commuting and running their businesses. Secondly, it will deliver jobs. So, the stockholding obligations will deliver 950 jobs in building almost 800 million litres of new diesel capacity. And on top of that, this is about shoring up the jobs that are so crucial in our refining sector. On top of that, this will deliver the sort of control over our destiny with liquid fuels that we need. We need to be in a position where if we can't import, we can continue to run those essential services that are so essential for Australians every day, whether it be in farming, commuting, tradies or other essential services.
Now, there's three parts to the package. The first is a refiner production payment, recognising the role the refineries play in our fuel security. They are essential to process the crude oil we can produce from Australia, from Bass Strait and other areas, to ensure that if imports can't occur then we are still getting those essential fuels we need. The second part of the package is a minimum mandatory stock holding, ensuring that we have enough stocks, particularly of diesel, to keep the wheels of industry turning. And thirdly, the Government will be contributing $200 million to support the establishment of new storages for diesel in particular. This is recognising the significant investment that has to occur to deliver more onshore storage and of course, the Government is contributing $200 million of that.
JOURNALIST: Is this the end of the plan for securing more fuel here or is this not just a drop in the ocean for what we need?
ANGUS TAYLOR: No, this is a very significant contribution. This will ensure that we meet our International Energy Agency obligations. It will ensure that we have a refining sector that can process our crude, here in country. It will ensure that we have control over our own destiny, if imports are disrupted and it will ensure that we maintain jobs, not only in building new storages but in our refining sector and most importantly or equally as importantly, in our customer's sectors. So, if you look at agriculture or truckies, they need diesel. They need to have diesel when they have to harvest or when they have to move product, and those jobs are essential, not just, of course, for their customers, but to keep those sectors moving.
JOURNALIST: When do you imagine that we'll have this fuel on shore?
ANGUS TAYLOR: Well the aim is to get these storages built as quickly as possible. Obviously, it takes time to build storages, but we will move as quickly as we can to finalise the details of this package, work that through with industry and get construction moving.
JOURNALIST: You said that we've had during COVID, we've had ample supply, but there are other circumstances where we may not. What are the types of circumstances you're planning for, these worst possible situations?
ANGUS TAYLOR: The obvious circumstance is disruptions to imports. That's where we need to make sure we have stocks onshore in Australia. But, we also have our capacity to process our own crude oil, coming out of that Bass Strait and elsewhere through our own refineries, to deliver to those essential services. So, they're circumstances that we're talking about. They're extreme circumstances, but the truth is, Australia has done extremely well in managing a strong reliable supply of liquid fuels, and part of that is about our own ability to process and produce crude oil here in Australia, but part of that is because we have a range of different sources we get our fuel from and that reduces our risk. So, we've done well, but we need to make sure we can continue to do well into the future.
JOURNALIST: Just on some other matters, how concerning is it to hear that China's collected a database and profiles of tens of thousands of Australians, including some prominent and influential figures?
ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, if true, it's concerning. If true, it's concerning. But, that's exactly why we have made a major additional investment to the cyber-security of this nation, ensuring that we are secure against cyber intrusion. We've recently renewed our cyber strategy and that's an important step forward to make sure that Australians are safe and secure.
JOURNALIST: So, what efforts are being made to identify how this information has been collected?
ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, as I say, if true, it's concerning. But I've seen the reports, as you have today, I really don't have more to say about it.
JOURNALIST: So, does Australia or Five Eyes communities have similar databases to this?
ANGUS TAYLOR: As I say, I've seen the reports today. But what I'd emphasise is that our cyber defence is crucial, our cyber-security is crucial. We need to make sure Australians are secure against cyber intrusion. This is becoming a major issue right across the world and it is why we are ramping up our investment in this area, making sure that we have the capability, the toolkit to keep Australians secure and safe at all times.
JOURNALIST: What would this database be used for?
ANGUS TAYLOR: Again, I'm not going to add anymore to what they have already said that point.