ATA cheers as fuel security Bills pass Parliament

New laws seen as strengthening road freight resilience

ATA cheers as fuel security Bills pass Parliament
Andrew McKellar


Federal Parliament’s passage of fuel security Bills this week will improve Australia’s fuel security and keep the trucking industry moving in times of emergency, according to the Australian Trucking Association (ATA).  

The Fuel Security Bill 2021 and Fuel Security (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2021 follow extensive lobbying from the ATA, among others, and is expected to improve Australia’s stocks of transport fuels and support continued domestic fuel production. 

The move comes seven years after the latest bout of fuel-security concern began – the ATA joining motoring body the NRMA, Engineers Australia and independent senators in calling for action.

This followed the release of the NRMA’s report, Australia's liquid fuel security, which highlighted Australia’s breach of its 90-day liquid fuel stockholding obligations under International Energy Agency (IEA) agreements.

"Liquid and diesel fuel are critical to Australia’s economy, with 98 per cent of energy for the transport sector source from liquid fuel," ATA CEO Andrew McKellar says. 

"Despite this, Australia has dangerously low fuel stocks with only 20 days of consumption cover for diesel. 

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

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. 

Read how fuel security was raised as an issue in Parliament in 2014, here

The MSO will begin 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," McKellar says. 

"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," McKellar says.  

"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." 

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