The ATA  says that  the passage of fuel security bills through  the Australian Parliament this week, will improve Australia’s fuel security and keep the trucking industry moving in times of emergency.

The ATA says the Fuel Security Bill 2021 and Fuel Security (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2021 follow extensive lobbying by the ATA and will improve Australia’s stocks of transport fuels and support continued domestic fuel production.

“Liquid and diesel fuels are critical to Australia’s economy, with 98 per cent of energy for the transport sector source from liquid fuel. Despite this, Australia has dangerously low fuel stocks with only 20 days of consumption cover for diesel,” ATA CEO Andrew McKellar said.

“The ATA and its members have been campaigning on fuel security since 2014 and today’s announcement is a significant win for industry,” he said.

The bills will establish a minimum stockholding obligation (MSO) that will require fuel importers and refiners to maintain a minimum level of transport fuels, including diesel. The MSO will commence in July 2022, with a 40 per cent increase in diesel stockholdings from 2024. The bills also establish a fuel security services payment (FSSP) to support domestic refineries.

“This will strengthen the trucking industry’s capability to withstand major fuel disruptions and can keep Australia supplied in times of emergency,” Mr McKellar said.

“Combined with the Government’s $200 million program for building new diesel domestic storage, this represents a significant boost to fuel security.”

The Government should now progress the expected review of the Liquid Fuel Emergency Guidelines 2008 and section 47 of the Liquid Fuel Emergency ACT 1984 to ensure trucking businesses cannot be sued for prioritising customers in line with government policy during a fuel security emergency.

“Under current rules, trucking businesses would face legal uncertainty if expected by government to prioritise the delivery of particular goods, such as food, during a fuel disruption,” Mr McKellar said.

“Delivery contracts in the trucking industry do not typically allow for the delay or non-delivery of a contracted job as a resulted of a fuel shortage or guidance from government to prioritise a particular type of delivery for the health, safety or welfare of the wider community,” he said.