Truck drivers have had a seemingly impossible two years. They’ve had to endure Covid restrictions, border closures, been locked out of rest stops and faced mandatory testing, but through it all they have kept Australia moving.
Now, with Christmas on the horizon and their workload picking up, truck drivers are again facing a crisis. But this time it is of the government’s making.
The AdBlue shortage is the crisis we didn’t have to have.
Since early November, the trucking industry has known that restrictions placed on export of urea from China would eventually hit Australia’s AdBlue supplies. Since early November, these groups have been calling for action.
But despite this warning, the Morrison-Joyce government failed to adequately prepare. Instead of shoring up our supplies early, it is only over the last week that government ministers have begun to consider the crippling impacts the AdBlue shortages might have on our economy.
Labor welcomes the announcement last week of a taskforce to confront this problem, but a taskforce alone won’t fix it.
Industry needs more short-term certainty about current and future supplies.
To provide this, the Morrison-Joyce government must immediately reveal how much AdBlue is in Australia, how much is on its way, and the ways in which they will meet any supply shortfalls.
Importantly, the Morrison-Joyce government needs to make sure that Australian truck drivers aren’t being ripped off at the bowser every time they have to fill up.
My colleague, Senator Glenn Sterle, is himself facing quadrupling prices as he drives his truck up WA’s coast.
I’m hearing the same from drivers all across Australia.
This isn’t fair – where are owner-drivers and operators supposed to find the extra money to cover rocketing prices?
While these challenges need to be tackled now, this shortage points to bigger shifts that are needed in our economy.
If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it is that we cannot always rely on overseas nations to prop up our own supply chains. In the future, we have to be able to look out for ourselves.
It’s ridiculous that we no longer have the capacity to make sufficient quantities of AdBlue onshore. We have all the supplies, and we have all the skills, we just don’t have a government with the will to do it.
Australians in every industry need a government that is serious about Australia’s fuel security and confronting the challenges of increasingly stressed supply chains.
With concerns now growing around wooden pallet shortages threatening beer supplies over summer, it is clear that the urea crisis won’t be the last supply chain threat to Australia’s economic recovery.
That’s why Albanese Labor has committed to working across industry to develop our own capabilities, making sure we can stand on our own two feet and ensuring Australia’s supply chains remain resilient, no matter what the future might throw at us.
That’s why we need a future made in Australia.
Catherine King is the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development