HAS it ever been easier for governments to avoid responsibility and create scapegoats? As long as the villains are persona non grata to the left – or at least culturally invisible to it – any distraction will do. Want to ban an Islamic terrorist group without copping grief from the aggrieved? Simple: ban a non-existent “right-wing” outfit at the same time. Don’t want the sting of responsibility for forensic lab bungles during a young woman’s murder investigation? Do a Palaszczuk and blame it all on the LNP. And, of course, if you absolutely, positively have to get out of Dodge overnight: the unvaccinated ! They’re labelled refuseniks but recusants is more accurate.
Enter AdBlue. The shortage of the urea-derived diesel cleanser continues to be a sleeper crisis that may become a serious problem early in the new year. Two weeks ago, I quoted Bob Katter pleading with the Morrison government to suspend regulations mandating AdBlue for the nation’s trucking fleet (excepting older models). Since then, a Federal ‘task force’ has overseen a deal with Indonesia to secure 5000 tonnes of urea (enough to last a week) and another with Incitec Pivot to boost local production to a mega-quantity. Fair enough but nobody is sure how much AdBlue is available right now to keep the country provisioned over the next few months. The government’s estimate is about 15 million litres – enough for five weeks, possibly seven. Australian Trucking Association chairman David Smith says Incitec’s product won’t be on the market until the end of January. On my reading of the volumes being cited, it’s going to be a close-run thing.
Fortunately, AdBlue is no more mechanically necessary for a diesel engine than a Save The Whales sticker. That means this is the gentlest kind of supply chain warning a nation ever gets. Big enough to shake things up; not big enough to cause a food riot. Running a just in time system for industrial necessities – let alone via the good offices of a stroppy totalitarian behemoth – has been foolish for a long time. It isn’t China’s fault we don’t have strategic reserves of urea or the capacity to whisk it up. On the subject of blame, a Federal government that calls in the ACCC to monitor AdBlue prices four days after the ACCC sanctioned emergency collusion in the industry takes a sliver of cake. Not the whole blame-somebody-else cake; not this year.