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Independent Member for Clark, Andrew Wilkie, has called on the Federal Government to immediately deliver on its promise to subsidise a fleet of Australian-flagged liquid fuel carriers to help provide energy security. He has also urged the Labor Opposition to support the initiative.

“Australia has a fuel security crisis and almost nothing is being done about it,” Mr Wilkie said. “Indeed the country’s reserve of petrol, diesel and jet fuel is often measured in only weeks, which is risky at the best of times and downright dangerous in the current global climate.

“The Federal Government is sinking billions of dollars into defence, but we should also be investing in much greater self-reliance and that means securing our international supply chains. And a good first step would be to stop talking and act to establish a fleet of Australian-flagged liquid fuel carriers.

“Yes, the Government and Opposition have made vague promises to get Australian fuel ships. But so far it’s all talk, despite the availability of suitable vessels and operators being ready to go. For example, the Teekay company has two vessels available on condition of a Government commitment being forthcoming for a subsidy of about $10 million per ship per year. There are also two smaller liquid fuel carriers currently just across the ditch in New Zealand, operated by a subsidiary of Australian company ASP Shipping, which will soon be available for lease.

“Clearly we do need to focus on a net-zero emissions future where Australia achieves 100 per cent energy supply from renewable sources. But for now, and as we transition, we need sovereign energy security. This country imports 90 per cent of its refined fuel and much of the limited stock we claim to have in our possession is in fact in the USA or on ships at sea. In other words, we have bugger all fuel security and this must change.”