The Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) is a not-for-profit independent think tank that aims to promote Australia’s economic development in a sustainable and socially balanced way.
Amid the growing concern of rising petrol prices CEDA organised a seminar with Chris Skrebowski, a leading oil analyst who has a background as an oil journalist and a planner and analyst within the industry.
Chirs Skrebowski spoke about peak oil, which is when global oil production begins an inevitable decline because new oil fields cannot offset declining production from ageing fields. Chris Skrebowski’s research has indicated that peak oil is likely to occur in 2010 and possibly sooner depending on the accuracy of oil supplies within the Middle East.
The debate surrounding peak oil has shifted from being a question of IF to WHEN. There is now general consensus that peak oil is real and will occur generally sooner rather than later. This will of course have serious repercussions for Melbourne, Australia and the world.
While alternative fuels obviously have a role to play, it is clear that alternatives such as bio-diesel or hydrogen will not be able to directly replace oil. It will therefore be imperative that fuel sources are used as efficiency as possible requiring increased prominence for public transport.
With no major rail extensions and inadequate bus services, the State Government has failed to adequately respond to the questions surrounding petrol prices. People, particularly in the outer suburbs, are already experiencing increasing financial hardship due to rising petrol prices and yet the government has failed to provide frequent, direct and readily available bus services to the two-thirds of Melbourne located beyond the rail network.
The State Government’s Bus Plan (which was never officially released despite being a key document of Melbourne 2030) clearly stated that a fifteen-minute frequency for direct bus services along Melbourne’s major roads was required to encourage a modal shift towards public transport. Unfortunately the State Government has provided Melbourne’s outer suburbs with nothing more than minimum service levels of an hourly frequency.
The State Government has had ample opportunity to plan for Melbourne’s future transport needs and yet time and time Melbourne has continually been disappointed. With predictions of ever increasing petrol prices the time to act is quickly running out.