Dr David Honey, WA Liberal Leader, today forcefully rejected claims by Federal Labor MP Madeleine King that the Morrison Government had allowed the Kwinana refinery to “wither away”.
Dr Honey said that the only political leader responsible for the closure of the refinery was WA Premier Mark McGowan.
“The Premier was ultimately responsible for the future of the refinery under the Oil Refinery (Kwinana) Agreement Act,” Dr Honey said.
“The Kwinana refinery was the largest and most modern in Australia and it was allowed to close because of the disgraceful inaction of Premier Mark McGowan.
“Questioning by the Opposition immediately following the announcement that the refinery would close last October discovered that Premier McGowan had not even bothered to speak to the Prime Minister about keeping the refinery open, even though he was aware that it would close months earlier.
“The Federal Government’s $2.5 billion refinery assistance program was announced in September 2020.
“He made no effective effort to lobby BP strenuously enough to keep the refinery open or seek to find an alternative oil company to replace BP.
“The Labor Government in Victoria had successfully done this previously when they secured Viva Energy to replace Shell who planned to close their Geelong Refinery.
“Under the State Agreement, Premier McGowan was duty bound to find another company to take over the operations of the refinery. He did nothing and this vital piece of strategic infrastructure was lost to the State, as well as 680 highly paid employees.
“As former President of Kwinana Industries Council, I was very familiar with the operations of this refinery and the reality is that until COVID struck, this refinery was profitable.
“It provided crucial fuel into this State and low emission diesel and low sulphur fuels that are critical for the safety of our workers in the mining industry.
“This refinery did not need to close if Premier McGowan had taken a more pro-active approach at the time, including working with the Federal Government to keep it open.
“It was Premier McGowan who effectively signed off the death warrant on this invaluable piece of economic infrastructure that has now been lost forever.”