Katter’s Australian Party federal candidate for Herbert, truckie Clynton Hawks, is calling for an amendment to legislation to allow truckies to temporarily ‘turn off’ their emission control systems until the urea supply situation is sorted out.
“This would ease the pressure on the supply chain,” said Hawks.
Hawks said China’s ban on exports of urea to Australia had crippled supply, and that immediate action was required from the federal government.
“People on social media joking about not having pressies under the tree because of supply chain issues are gravely under-estimating the impact of the urea shortage,” he said.
“Without trucks, Australia stops, and most of our trucks cannot run without this product.”
Urea is a key ingredient of AdBlue, a diesel fuel additive injected into exhaust systems to lower emissions, as well as a key ingredient of fertiliser.
China banned the export of urea in October to ease pressures on the price of their own domestically-produced fertilisers.
“Australia imports 95 per cent of its urea, and 80 per cent of that comes from China,” Hawks said.
“Everyone in the trucking and agriculture industry in Australia could see what was coming as a result of China’s export ban.
“But we haven’t heard a peep out of the Australian government except that they are ‘monitoring the situation’.”
The majority of diesel trucks on the road require the AdBlue additive in order to be compliant with Euro 4 and Euro 5 emission standards, which came into force in Australia in 2014.
Hawks said AdBlue prices were already on the rise and are expected to increase even further in the coming months, tripling to around $1500 a tonne within a year.
“The dramatic price increase will put pressure on already-struggling trucking operators,” he said.
KAP Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter said Australia’s economies and industries would continue to suffer if the nation remained beholden to the international market for key commodities like urea.
He said was deeply alarmed that, despite global demand for urea skyrocketing, Queensland’s only manufacturer of the product had announced it would close its Gibson Island production plant in 2022.
Incitec Pivot, which has operated its Gibson Island factory for more than 50 years, currently employs 170 people and produces 280,000 tonnes of urea annually.
It has cited the rising cost of natural gas, which is vital in its production processes, as the reason for the closure, and in a statement to the ASX last month confirmed it was unable to secure an economically viable long-term gas supply.
Katter said Queensland mined and exported an abundance of natural gas each year, with 23 million tonnes exported in 2020-21 alone.
He said it was perverse that the state government had never implemented an effective gas reserve policy like Western Australia or most other developed countries.
“This has smashed opportunities for existing operations and also prevented proposed projects from getting off the ground,” Katter said.
“Literally, factories slated for Australia have been abandoned and built overseas based purely on the way Queensland’s – and other states’ – LNG policies have been rolled out.”