The news that Viva Energy may have to shut down its Geelong Refinery demonstrates how seriously Victoria’s lockdown laws are damaging major businesses.

For the Geelong Refinery’s 700 workers and for the Geelong community, the potential shut down represents a very dark day for one of our city’s most significant employers.

The Geelong Refinery contributes $200 million to the Victorian economy and supplies half of Victoria’s liquid fuel needs. With the plummeting demand for petrol, down by 60 per cent, and diesel, down by 30%, Viva Energy has suffered a loss of $49 million in six months.

Combined with the fall in global demand for oil products and the state of regional refining margins, Viva Energy has confirmed today that the Melbourne’s Stage 4 lockdowns, in particular, are threatening the viability of its refining business.

The Morrison Government is providing the Geelong Refinery $2.5 million a month in JobKeeper payments and is working closely with the sector on a long term fuel security package, given the importance that refineries play in Australia’s fuel security.

The Victorian Government must urgently step up and provide support for the Geelong Refinery and the thousands of direct and indirect jobs which depend on it. It is not good enough that Premier Andrews and his government have refused to agree to deepen the Geelong channel which restricts crude oil cargos and costs Viva Energy more than $20 million a year.

The restriction of movement of Victorians is causing widespread economic damage across the state. We have seen no detailed public health evidence which supports draconian measures such as the 8.00pm Melbourne curfew or lockdowns in parts of regional Victoria where there are no active cases.

It is clear, already, that the Premier must urgently revise his so called ‘roadmap’ which is not only a crushing blow for so many Victorians but has the potential to drive major businesses, such as the Geelong Refinery, off the cliff.

7 September 2020