Transcript - Australian Renewable Fuels Week conference


As always, I begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of this region – the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples.

I pay my respect to their elders past and present and I extend that respect to any First Nations people joining us today.

The transport industries interacts with and impacts every corner of our nation.

When you get to the heart of it, the imperative of our drive to net zero and renewables is about protecting those very same environments that First Nations communities have been protecting and cherishing for time immemorial.

The example that those communities have shown in caring for place should be at the front of our minds.


As we all know, two years ago, we were elected to government with a clear mandate on climate change.

And our ambition is now law, setting a 43 per cent target by 2030 for Australia’s emissions reductions and net zero by 2050.  

We are within striking distance of meeting our 2030 target, and now we are setting our sights further to develop our plan to net zero by 2050 together - as a government and as you are in industry.

In that journey, I know that renewable fuels have an essential role to play – that’s why I have championed their development ever since we came to government.

One of my first speeches as a Minister – back in July 2022 – was in fact focused on renewable fuels, particularly in the aviation sector.

I am sure that some of you will remember that speech because it was at another Bioenergy Australia event!

At that event in Sydney, I committed to establishing an Australian Jet Zero Council, because I knew then that not only did we have a lot of work to do to develop renewable fuels in Australia, but that every step of the way we had to work closely with industry to achieve our goals.

I made this commitment in one of my first speeches as a minister because I know full well that aviation, heavy vehicles and maritime transport have limited decarbonisation options, and if we are to achieve our ambitious targets we need to develop renewable fuels industries right here in Australia.

The challenge is large, but we must achieve it.

Domestic aviation emissions in Australia more than tripled between 1990 and 2019 and Australian jet fuel demand is projected to increase by 75 per cent from 2023 to 2050.

Together, domestic aviation, heavy vehicles and domestic maritime transport are projected to be close to 10 per cent of national emissions in 2030.

Emissions from heavy duty trucks, buses and rail doubled between 1990 and 2021.

And liquid fuels – including petrol, diesel, jet fuel and biofuels - make up 52 per cent of Australia’s final energy consumption.

If we are to achieve our goals, we have no choice but to decarbonise this consumption and these sectors – and that means more renewable liquid fuels.

Developing a plan, growing the economy

That challenge is why my department will be conducting final consultation on a draft Transport and Infrastructure Net Zero Roadmap and Action Plan, designed to support the reduction of transport emissions.

This Roadmap and Action plan is one of six sectoral decarbonisation plans that are currently under development – covering all major components of the economy.

Late last year, we sought initial suggestions and ideas from stakeholders for the Transport Sector Plan – and I thank those of you who contributed to this exercise.

Through that process, we have heard the challenges ahead of us but, on the other side of the coin, there are opportunities too.

Australia is well placed to lean into a low carbon liquid fuel industry.  We have access to renewable feedstocks, and progress is being made to set up local production facilities.

Detailed public consultation on our overarching plan is expected early this year.

However, we are already exploring some discrete elements of the renewable fuel mix – like the development of sustainable aviation fuel – through other mechanisms.

I’d like to briefly explore what we’re doing in the areas of aviation, maritime and heavy road vehicles. 


As well all know – aviation is critical to our nation’s way of life. 

Indeed, I am sure that many of us in this room flew here for this event.

On a per capita basis, we are second to the United States for annual emissions from domestic flights. If you add in international flights we rank fifth in the world.

Our Government knows this – and is committed to working with the sector to support the reduction of Australia’s emissions, while growing jobs. Including through sustainable aviation fuels and emerging technology. 

That is why we’ve established the Australian Jet Zero Council - which is working with the sector to identify opportunities for collaboration and to promote, mobilise and galvanise industry’s own efforts. 

That is also why we have announced a $30 million Sustainable Aviation Fuel Funding Initiative through ARENA – the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

And that is why we have committed to an Aviation White Paper process, which will examine the full range of issues across the sector - emission reductions among them. 

The preceding Aviation Green Paper noted that Sustainable Aviation Fuel is the most advanced means to support net zero by 2050 in this sector.

Over 2000 submissions were received on the Green Paper. Consideration of these will inform the White Paper, which I intend to deliver in the middle of the year.


Moving on to the maritime sector …

To decarbonise, shipping is looking to evolve from a single universal fuel to a future with multiple alternative fuels.

Given the global nature of the industry, this will be a huge transition, especially given the uncertainty surrounding supply locations.

We are working hard to ensure we play a key part in that transition given we are the largest island nation in the world and the fifth largest user of shipping services, which carry over 99 per cent of our international trade by volume across more than 400 commodities in and out of Australia.

We are pursuing this at the international level through our participation in International Maritime Organization negotiations and our consistent, ongoing collaboration to develop green shipping corridors.

We are pursuing this at the national level by working closely with the maritime industry to develop a Maritime Emissions Reduction National Action Plan.

This plan will set the strategic direction, and recommend actions, to decarbonise our own maritime transport sector; as well as contribute towards reducing international shipping emissions. 

The plan will seek to identify opportunities and future-proof the domestic maritime industry, ensuring Australia benefits from the global net zero maritime transition. 

Again, I expect to receive a draft of this plan by the middle of the year.

Meanwhile, a few of our current actions towards reduced maritime emissions include:

  • investing in the development of clean hydrogen industrial hubs near ports to produce renewable, hydrogen-derived fuels (including for ships)
  • engaging internationally to establish green shipping corridors to support the export of our renewable energy products; and
  • reviewing and developing responsive regulatory frameworks, such as developing a domestic Guarantee of Origin certification scheme for locally-produced hydrogen.

Heavy road vehicles

Next, when it comes to heavy road vehicles, there have been some advances in battery electric and hydrogen technologies.  

Nevertheless, I know that there will still be a role for Low Carbon Liquid Fuels for many years.

Particularly in sectors like long-haul road freight.

Low Carbon Liquid Fuels, such as renewable diesel and biofuels, have the advantage that they can be used in conventional internal combustion engines, to varying degrees.

As such, they will play a key role in our clean energy future.

In summary

Now, I know that sounds like a lot of challenges, but the opportunity is clear.

Not only in terms of decarbonisation, but in terms of jobs.

Modelling for Australia’s Bioenergy Roadmap estimates bioenergy could potentially contribute 26,200 new additional jobs by the 2030s and 35,300 jobs by the 2050s, with at least one in four additional jobs expected to be in regional areas.

As a regional MP, I emphasise the potential benefits of renewable fuels enough.

I know that there is so much more work to do in this space, and I know that we cannot do it without the support and cooperation of industry.

That is why this event and the discussions you are having here in Canberra this week are so important.

Thank you for time today and all the best with the rest of your conference.