Interview with Warwick Long, Victorian Country Hour

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: AdBlue shortages.
10 December 2021

Warwick Long: Minister for Trade, Dan Tehan joined me earlier on the program. We have a bit of time to fit this in now. Here’s a little bit of what he had to say.

Dan Tehan: Look the government wants to work very closely with industry to understand the current disruptions in the global market for urea. And obviously the key ingredient in diesel exhaust fluid, AdBlue. So, we’ve set up a taskforce so we can clearly understand what the issue is and then make sure we put the right policies in place and the right approach to ensure that we can make sure that the ongoing need for AdBlue can be met here in Australia.

Warwick Long: So, we heard from many farmers on this program in the last week, scrambling around towns like Shepperton to try and find additional AdBlue supplies after shuttles worth have been sold out from under them in just days. Are you hearing similar stories?

Dan Tehan: Look what we’re hearing is for in the immediate, that our needs can be met. So that’s positive but what we do need to be making sure is that we’re securing those future supply chains. And that’s why we’ll be reaching out in particular to key countries who can supply urea and AdBlue to ensure that we can get those ongoing supplies. I spoke to the Indonesian Trade Minister yesterday, we’ll be making representations in Saudi, in the UAE, in Qatar, also with Japan, just to make sure we can ensure those future supplies can be provided. In the short term, what we’re hearing back is that we can meet the current need but obviously in the medium to long term we want to make sure we’ve those critical supply chains in place.

Warwick Long: Yeah, so five weeks’ worth of supply in the country at the moment. That’s from the government and that’s pretty sound do you feel?

Dan Tehan: That’s based on all the feedback that we’re getting, both from industry and from a departmental level and there’s been a large amount of work that’s been done to try to get a clear-cut assessment of that. And that’s the best information that the government has available to it at the moment, and we think that it is based on some very sound research that’s been done by departments and by industry itself.

Warwick Long: You mentioned that you spoke to your Indonesian counterpart already, and you’re planning to make other representations. What are you hearing?

Dan Tehan: Yeah, what we’re hearing is that they are willing to provide us with Urea and with AdBlue, which is a very positive start. We’ve obviously got to go through additional procurement processes, work through all that. But that work is being undertaken as of today and what we’re hearing is reassuring in terms of what we should be able to do to meet future needs.

Warwick Long: And in the meantime, you don’t expect there will be any disruption to transport by Christmas due to concerns about AdBlue?

Dan Tehan: No, the clear-cut advice we’re getting is we have at least 5-6 weeks of supply.

Warwick Long: Did the reports then of shortages and speculation it would really affect Australia’s tracking and agriculture industries take you or the government by surprise then?

Dan Tehan:Look what we’ve seen throughout this pandemic is that there has been impacts on supply chains and that can lead to certain apprehension in certain markets. So, what we’ve got to do is make sure we put the processes in place so that everyone can understand what the actual situation is, how much stock is available and what we need to do to meet future needs. And that’s why this taskforce has been set up so that we can do that. So, we can work closely with industry so that consumers know exactly what the current situation is. Because we’ve seen through the pandemic, that you can get misinformation and that can lead to distortions. So, we want to make sure when it comes to AdBlue and urea, that we’ve got a taskforce, that we’ve got the information out there for everyone who needs this very important ingredient, and they understand what the current supply situation is.

Warwick Long: And what it comes to AdBlue and urea, obviously a major supplier to the past to Australia has been China, there’s been trade tensions there. Is this taskforce and the government’s work here about finding alternative supplies of these products to Australia from outside of China?

Dan Tehan: Well, what we’ve seen is that there’s been very strong demand from these products in China itself. So, the domestic demand has grown quite significantly in China. So, you’ve got basically a situation which is really around increasing global supply. That’s what we need. And that’s why we’re reaching out to other countries to see what they’re able to provide us. So, everything we’re seeing is this is very much a supply and demand issue, not in any way a geostrategic issue.

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