I don’t know much about heavy trucking but Lyndon Watson, boss of Don Watson Transport, does. If what he says about the AdBlue shortage is true, 2022 could begin very badly indeed. The crucial point he makes is that crunch time won’t come when supplies literally run out, but well before that – when the public starts to panic-buy. Not just toilet paper this time but everything on the shelves. Given how desperate Australia is for this nectar of the road hogs, the likelihood is that non-Chinese suppliers will chase the premiums we’re being forced to pay and make a tidy killing. DGL Group is standing by to fly in hundreds of tonnes of urea.
Half of Australia’s trucks don’t use diesel exhaust fluid and it may be possible to rig the newer half that does to run without it. Dean Smith, director of Winston Express Haulage in Sydney, isn’t very optimistic about a fleet overhaul. “What do you do? Take them back to the manufacturers and get a special dispensation to turn the AdBlue off for a month? I don’t know.”
The Federal government has established a “task force” to solve the problem – much to Mr Katter’s disgust – but it seems an executive decision is necessary now: wait and see or authorise owners to bypass AdBlue and write off associated costs; also: pressure the manufacturers to keep warranties clean. Dissertations will be written about the Urea Shock. Is it a supply-chain crisis, market failure, geo-political gamesmanship as vendetta, regulatory overkill or a combination? The most important question, however, is this: do we really want an economy in which ‘pollution’ control is baked into the machinery keeping us alive? Scott Morrison says yes.