Thank you, Mr Speaker.
And thank you to the Member for Kennedy.
He and I both represent electorates where people need to drive great distances to work, live and access healthcare.
So the eye-watering cost of petrol these days is a top of mind issue for us both.
In the year to September, petrol prices have gone up 25%.
It’s $1.62 in Wangaratta this morning, and $1.68 in Wodonga.
Unfortunately, prices are projected to stay high.
Some analysts say prices could $2 by the end of the year.
When you’re driving an hour each way to work, or for weekend footy, or to see a GP, that hurts.
Now lots of politicians are running around saying they will bring down petrol prices.
But we need to be honest with people.
The reality is there is not much any Australian Government can do to affect the price of fuel.
The reason prices are so high because the price of crude oil has gone up, and because global supply chains are under pressure as the world recovers from COVID-19.
And because Australia is almost entirely reliant on imported liquid fuels, there’s not much we can do about it.
In the year before the pandemic struck, Australia imported over 60,000 megalitres of liquid fuel, around two-thirds of our total consumption.
Australia imports our liquid fuels from countries like China, Japan, Singapore, and the UAE.
Each year, we spend almost $40 billion importing this fuel.
Australia has just two domestic oil refineries left, and the Government is forking out $2 billion over the next decade to keep these alive.
The brutal reality is that Australia has a fuel security problem.
Our entire economy, and our national security, rests on an unreliable, insecure supply of a polluting, expensive, imported product.
It would take one hostile nation disrupting trade routes, or one major natural disaster disrupting our supply chains, and Australia would be left high and dry.
As we move into a more uncertain world, where petrol prices are skyrocketing, we need to make the smart decisions to guarantee sovereign energy security and protect Australians from paying through the nose.
That means renewables.
Australia is blessed with the best renewable energy resources in the world. And they are the cheapest form of power available to us.
If the Government did more to make electric cars affordable, to build the charging infrastructure we need, and to invest in renewable energy, we wouldn’t have these problems of expensive and volatile fuel supply.
You could power your car with the solar panels on your roof – and you can do it on the cheap.
If Australia generated all of our power, it would mean we are less vulnerable to the whims of other countries and global markets.
We could build our energy security on a supply of cheap, clean and locally-generated power. Power that we can never run out of.
And instead of sending $40 billion a year to offshore oil companies, we’d be sending that money into the pockets of regional Australians, because renewable energy will be generated in the regions.
We have seen in the pandemic that global supply chains can be fragile.
We have seen that those countries that can manufacture their own vaccines are in much stronger positions than those who cannot.
We have seen the behaviour of countries hoarding not only vaccines, but PPE, ventilators, and other essential medical equipment.
And yet on the critical question of our fuel security, the Government is leaving us entirely open to an increasingly uncertain world.
Let’s make our power here.
Let’s pay our farmers not foreign oil companies.
Let’s rely on cheap fuels, not expensive ones.
I call on the Government to do more to invest in renewables, and get the cost of electric vehicles down, so that everyday Australians can pay less at the bowser, and have more to spend on the important things in life.