Australia Has Less Than 20 Days Of Petrol Stockpiled, Labor Claims

If war breaks out or a national emergency were to happen, Australia has just 19 days of petrol on standby, according to Labor.

That is a fraction of the 90-day stockpile recommended by the International Energy Agency.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is trying to put the problem at the top of the political agenda.

“What is the point of having the world’s best war fighting technology, if you can’t fly, sail or drive," he said on Thursday.

"As we've become more reliant on the global fuel market, we've also become more vulnerable to international risks and uncertainty."

Bill Shorten during a tour of fabrication workshops at Midland TAFE in Perth on Thursday. (AAP Image/Rebecca Le May)

The Labor opposition claimed jet fuel reserves are at 23 days and diesel at 22, all far short of international standards.

But the problem is not new.

Since 2012, the nation’s fuel levels have been below the magic 90-day number.

Shorten trumpeted the numbers on Thursday as he announced Labor's plans, if it wins government, to create a new National Fuel Reserve. He said a reserve of fuel, owned by the government, was a "national security measure".

(Getty Images)

“We will consult with industry, oil and gas importers, refineries and with national security experts on the implementation of the government National Fuel Reserve," he said.

But the federal Energy Minister hit back, claiming Labor had fudged its numbers.

"We have over 80 days of stocks," Angus Taylor countered.

“The real question is how is Labor going to pay for their policy?”

“They’ve got two options -- they can either slug taxpayers with extra taxes, or they can slug us all at the bowser.”

(Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

Taylor said the government had announced a review of the fuel reserves a year ago, and would analyse those findings "in the coming weeks".

“We want to in the next ten years start building tank farms, to make sure that we increase our reserve,” Shorten said.

“We also want to start researching alternative fuels so we are less dependent on other parts of the world.”

The announcement follows Labor revealing plans to build a national fleet of ships, to secure access to fuel in the event of an emergency.