Michael Fabbro

From the Principal’s Desk – Fabbro Talks

As I sit here at my desk on a somewhat overcast Monday morning, the news speaks of floods devastating Queensland, bombs falling on Ukraine and when I reflect upon all of the other local and world events ruminating in the background it makes me feel as though the world is spinning just a little bit too fast for its own good at the moment! The housing market is rocketing, petrol is $2.20 a litre and with a State election one month away and a Federal election only a few months after that, it certainly is a time of uncertainty. There appear to be a lot of plates spinning in the air!

It’s interesting to me that despite moving into our third year of “Covid times” and observing the impact that event had on our Nation, especially from the perspective of identifying how reliant we are on the rest of the world for so much, (apparently even for face masks until Detmold stepped into the breach), that our Government has not sought to reduce that reliance in any meaningful way.

Circa $400BN was thrown at the economy from Federal and State governments and it has resulted in a booming economy, but what lasting benefit have we gained? Perhaps some better transport routes; but have we increased our manufacturing capacity? Have we increased our capacity for onshore fuel security? Preparing for a scenario where our supply lines are interrupted appears to be ‘back of mind’ for our politicians. It would be nice to see some forward thinking, and investment, to build capacity, let alone confidence, that if there were a shipping blockade impacting Australia, we could still function for more than the length of our fuel security, reported to only be at between three to four weeks.

Now to be fair, the Government did introduce a Fuel Security Act last year, however it’s target for increased storage and increased capacity rely predominantly on industry investment. The lofty goal of increasing diesel storage capacity by 40%, reported in 2018 to be at 21 days, is hardly going to have an impact. Ninety per cent of our liquid fuels are imported! $302M is allocated to refineries to make ‘better fuels’?? I think I just want fuel! The fuel I have now will do!

We did have four fuel refineries in recent times, Altona, Geelong, Kwinana, Lytton and Geelong. Twenty years ago we had eight that met virtually all domestic demand. Can you believe, in the last fourteen months, we have sat by as two of those four have been closed. BP closed Kwinana’s refining capacity, opting for storage only, and Exxon Mobil closed Altona going the same way. The Government has scrambled and offer $2BN to make sure the operators of the remaining two refineries stay open, however it makes us look fairly darn vulnerable on that front!

Anyway, food for thought for when your politician knocks on your door in the coming weeks and months.

On matters legal, the Courts have wound back up to full speed now that January is in the rear view mirror. We had a disappointing, but not unexpected, result for a client battling the onset of over height towers in the CBD. The current planning laws are allowing developers to build as high as they like with little regard to nearby residents who purchased on the understanding there were height limits in place where they live. These height limits appear to be ‘no limit’ to anyone wanting to build to the sky, with little apartments for people to reside. I’d like to think if the development plan for an area contemplated a height limit of 18 or 20 metres I could hope I would not see a 54 metre tower, (and all the associated increased traffic and inconvenience that involves), plonked right alongside me!

Enough of my ramblings, I trust you have all had a great summer, enjoyed an opportunity to have a break and I hope you enjoy this month’s newsletter.

Remember, if there is anything of a legal nature that is concerning you … “we’re here to help”!

For information on the range of  legal advice and services that we provide, head to:

Michael Fabbro

Practice Principal

Ezra Legal

Categories: Blog

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