Why are petrol prices being buried by government?

by Chris Harries

Tas government hides oil report

Members of this citizens’ lobby spent much time and effort contributing to the state government’s Oil Price Vulnerability Study, a project that cost the Tasmanian taxpayer some $300,000. Following a protracted two year gestation, the Report was finally released in December of last year (2013), and reported in the Mercury.

Although obviously massively ‘sanitised’ as it passed the desks of multiple heads of agency and ministerial advisers we were surprised that the final report, although truncated, was refreshingly clear in its language and reasonably blunt about Tasmania’s particular vulnerability to oil supply disruptions and likely price increases at the petrol pump.

The bad news we bring you today is that this document, owned by the people of Tasmania, has been pulled from the state government’s websites and has archived it, so you can no longer get it direct from live sites. The good news is that if you Google for it the archived file comes up via the National Library now has the document on its links, so you can still get it. At least for now.

But there’s no need, we’ve uploaded it directly onto this website and you can download it from here.

Why is peak oil such a taboo subject?

We must add here that the Tasmanian government is by no means the first instance where information about the oil depletion issue is being hidden rom the public. We reported on a national issue here. Then there was UTAS’s Peak Oil risk management study. Although congratulated on being the first university in Australia to take a lead and put oil price volatility into its risk management, UTAS chose to subsequently hide its report from its public website.

For those interested, we’ve also uploaded UTAS’s report directly onto this website. You can get it HERE.

Why is peak oil a taboo subject? I think it is true to say that, though the oil depletion issue is as comprehensively studied as is climate change both issues are subject to a high level of official denial – the pathology of denial runs equally through both issues. However, the public has been much less exposed to the oil depletion issue and what is at stake for society so it is much easier for governments to try to hide this from public view.

Meander Council deserves credit

On a much much brighter notes, this year Meander Valley Council took an admirable lead in the Tasmanian setting and published its Oil Price Vulnerability Action Plan, and, to its credit, has undertaken and published this study with full transparency. You can download its study from the Council’s site here.

During the past decade numbers of local governments throughout Australia have done the sensible thing and have included possible oil supply disruptions and price hikes into their management risk assessments. Public opinion should demand that these issues are taken seriously by our state and national governments, since they face the same risks albeit on a much bigger scale.

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