Fuel prices, fuel sovereignty & EV – House of Representatives | Ross Vasta MP

 I rise today to speak on the strong action the Morrison government has taken and is taking to reduce emissions whilst growing our economy. At Glasgow, the Prime Minister outlined our plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and we’re doing this with technology, not taxes, and choices, not mandates. That’s the Australian way. To reach net zero, we are considering the future of our technologies. We recognise the role future technology breakthroughs will play in closing the gap, with new and emerging technologies to reduce emissions by a further 15 per cent by 2050.

And we’re delivering a balanced approach to achieve this through our commitment to securing our fuel sovereignty. I’m seeing firsthand the benefits of our government’s commitment to affordable reliable energy in my electorate of Bonner. We’ve locked in Australia’s sovereign refining capability with our fuel security package supporting the Ampol refinery in Lytton, in Bonner, and Victoria’s Viva Energy refinery in Geelong, backing more local jobs for more local families.

Fuel is critical across our economy and the Morrison government is acting in a practical, responsible way to reduce emissions while preserving Australian jobs and taking advantage of our new opportunities for industries. We’re considering the livelihoods of our truckies, our tradies, our farmers, our commuters, our miners and, of course, everybody who travels in Australia. We are also protecting families and businesses from higher fuel prices, ensuring they can keep more of what they earn. In fact, we will be keeping fuel prices amongst the lowest in the OECD.

Locking in Australia’s fuel security will deliver benefits for all Australians. Traditional fuels will continue to be the dominant fuel source for transport beyond 2030. We cannot be complacent about fuel security because of this, and this package will lock in these refineries until 2027. It is critical for our farmers, our emergency services, our truckies and our industries, who rely upon diesel to keep Australia moving. Diesel consumption has increased over the last five years.

Of all major transport fuels, it is the most important for all Australians as it underpins our economy and critical services. If it wasn’t for our government’s commitment to fuel sovereignty, it is likely Australia’s remaining refineries would have closed within the next five years. Between these two refineries, this would mean losing 1,200 direct jobs and forfeiting 1,750 new construction jobs. The fallout would have had devastating impacts on jobs in all fuel-dependent industries and our local economy.

Earlier this year, I was extremely pleased to welcome the Prime Minister and the Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, to Bonner for the announcement of this package. On a local level, this package equated to 550 direct local jobs. The flow-on effect of this certainty in the local community could not be underestimated.

When I joined the Prime Minister and Minister Taylor on a tour of the refinery, we walked past a worker holding up a handwritten sign which read, ‘Thank you for supporting our refinery.’ I was beyond humbled to read this, because this is exactly what we do. We support real people, people with families, people with passion for their work. These are people with incredible skills, and we absolutely must harness and ensure that our sovereignty stays here with us.

This package will also complement our Future Fuels and Vehicles Strategy, which will empower consumers to drive the car that they want. This will be done by enabling the right environment, rolling out infrastructure and making the grid EV ready through priority reforms. It’s backed by a $250 million Future Fuels Fund focused on public EV charging, commercial fleets, household smart-charging and heavy and long-distance vehicle technologies. It also forms part of the more than $2.1 billion our government has committed to support the uptake of future fuels and vehicles.

Labor’s 2019 policy would have forced Australians to purchase an EV regardless of whether it was right for them, by setting a target that 50 per cent of new car sales had to be EVs by 2030. But our government won’t be telling Australians what car they must drive or increase the cost for those who can least afford it through taxes, bans or standards. We know this will just drive up the cost of Australian family vehicles, so we’re taking action to strengthen our economy and back our industries, and reduce emissions while we are at it.