Cut our oil dependency – invest in public transport, government urged

The federal government should invest in public transport to cut Australia’s growing dependence on Middle East oil, the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) said today.

“Oil production in Australia is in terminal decline, along with production in most other oil producing countries,” said PTUA President Daniel Bowen. “As a result we’re going to see higher and more volatile prices and a rapidly rising import bill to feed our oil addiction.”

Data from Geoscience Australia shows that oil and condensate production in Australia has already peaked and will fall to less than one third of domestic consumption within a decade, making us heavily dependent on imports unless significant steps are taken to cut oil use [1].

“Public transport is much more energy efficient than private cars, so a commitment to boosting the coverage and quality of public transport could cut our oil imports and greenhouse emissions,” said Mr Bowen. “Reduced oil dependence is clearly in the national interest, so we need a federal commitment to public transport.”

Mr Bowen also warned against assumptions that alternative fuels would fill the gap. “Increased biofuel production is likely to come at the expense of food production and biodiversity. Diverting our entire wheat crop to ethanol production would only replace 15% of our oil consumption but also eliminate an important agricultural export.”

Estimates of the cost to Australian tax payers of the “war on terror” amount to around $20 billion [2]. “Admissions from the federal government that we’re waging a war for oil highlight the true financial and human cost of oil use. It’s time to invest in public transport to cut the cost of oil dependence and greenhouse emissions,” concluded Mr Bowen.

1. Geoscience Australia: Oil and gas resources of Australia 2004
2. The Age: “War on terror costs us $20 billion”, 25/11/2006.

Contact the PTUA