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Australia Pumping Empty

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Australia Pumping Empty
Fuel rationing may be just one of a series of shocks facing drivers and commuters in Queensland, Australia. Looming oil shortages will produce the biggest change in society since the industrial revolution, Sustainability Minister Andrew McNamara warned yesterday.

To underscore his concerns, Mr McNamara will appear in a documentary film premiering May 20th in which he says the days when Queenslanders could “travel on a whim” in oil-powered vehicles are numbered. The documentary, ‘Australia Pumping Empty‘, argues southeast Queensland is squandering billions on road, bridge and tunnel projects on which few will be able to afford to travel.

A report by Mr McNamara for the Queensland State Cabinet on the impact of the fuel crisis is expected to include recommendations on rationing, the future of public and private transport and sustainable population issues. It has been ordered on the premise that there is overwhelming evidence world oil production will peak in under a decade. It is expected to recommend risk mitigation measures such as cuts in fuel consumption and encouraging the development and use of alternative fuels, technologies and strategies. It will also outline demographic and regional changes as Queenslanders change travel, work and living habits.

“I think people are going to be in for a shock when they find it’s too expensive to drive their cars to work and then, when they get down to the station, they find the train is full and they can’t get on board,” Mr McNamara said. He will recommend the State Government focuses urgently on ways to cut private-car use. “I cannot overstate this – we need to adopt a wartime mentality. We’re going to face a level of urgency that will require dramatic change.” Private car use is expected to trend towards hybrid vehicles and then to electric. “But will we have enough electricity generating capacity when everyone comes home and plugs their cars in to recharge?”

Mr McNamara said no government would want to introduce fuel rationing but it could not be ruled out. It might become an option as fuel supplies run down and prices rise to avoid a situation where only the rich can afford private transport. “We face the need for a whole new economy, from the way we generate power, to how we deliver water, to how we live”.

It’s good to see that someone, somewhere, is taking all this seriously.

‘Queensland’s vulnerability to rising oil prices’ – taskforce report April 2007


Written by Pete Smith

May 18, 2008 at 8:38 am

2 Responses

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  1. “A wartime mentality”

    Funny you should say that. Today a friend was telling me about the 1940’s weekend she’d just been to in Haworth and she said it was a “right-proper” step back in time. The camaraderie atmosphere was captured with great authenticity and there were many conversations about how people “made do” back then and got by with the little that was available to them. But then, that 1940’s generation had never experienced the throwaway, mod-con, instant gratification lifestyle that we are living today and I think it’s going to be a lot harder for the current generation to adapt to a ‘wartime’ lifestyle than it was for them.

    I have to say, when I’m stuck in traffic watching all the other car-users, there’s not a day goes by that I don’t think it’s all going to burst one day. It’s just so unsustainable.


    May 20, 2008 at 5:35 pm

  2. An Australian said all that! Core blimey mate, must be something in the water. 🙂

    Was listening to a programme today about a big bush fire that encroached upon the outer suburbs of Canberra in 2004, killing 4 and burning 500 houses just like that. Very dry conditions.

    Today water rationing is common regards their gardens. Things are pretty desperate out there. Queensland is looking into a desalination plant because their water problems are so bad. Basically more and more of Australia is turning into desert.


    May 20, 2008 at 5:48 pm

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