Five key focus areas in FY23
This week, 300 delegates joined ACAPMA for the staging of the 2022 Asia Pacific Fuel Industry Forum – an event designed and delivered by the fuel industry for fuel businesses in Australia. The event opened with a video salute to the industry for the work done in supporting the Australian community through fire, flood and pandemic. It concluded with a summary of the five key themes that will be championed by ACAPMA – on behalf of our members – in the year ahead. Click here to read more
This week saw the conduct of the 2022 Asia Pacific Fuel Industry Forum – an annual event for the Australian Fuel industry that had to be deferred during 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19.
Delivered under the theme of “Doing business in a post COVID19 Economy”, around 300 delegates were provided with a variety of perspectives from industry leaders and regulators about how the business environment has changed in the last two years – and what that means for the fuel industry in the future.
Day 1 opened with an address from ACAPMA President Wade Death who acknowledged the heroic efforts of the industry in recent years before providing a summary of ACAPMA’s priorities for the future. Chief amongst these priorities is the need to address the distortion to competition created by deliberate and systemic wage underpayment – an issue that, while perpetrated by a relatively small number of businesses, has a very significant impact on competition in all markets.
“I am not saying that we want to see business owners that make honest mistakes jailed for wage underpayment practices, not at all. Rather as a Board we are saying, we must rid our industry of unscrupulous businesses that engage in deliberate and systemic wage practices that cheat their staff of their legal wage and create unfair competition for the rest of us”, said ACAPMA President Wade Death.
The Day 1 opening keynote was delivered by one of the Captains of Industry, Scott Wyatt, CEO of VIVA Energy. Scott shared a perspective on the changing fuel supply landscape and what that will likely mean in the face of the energy transition in the years ahead. Delegates then heard from regulators, leaders and innovators in what was a packed conference agenda.
Day 1’s presentations concluded with an energising and confronting presentation from Mr Craig Hamilton, ABC Broadcaster and public speaker, who shared a very personal insight into the challenge of maintaining good mental health in the face of adversity that hit home with many in the room.
Day 1 was capped off perfectly with the New Sunrise Group Gala Dinner which provided an opportunity for delegates to simply relax with good food, great music and rekindle relationships with colleagues that they hadn’t seen for years.
“The New Sunrise Gala Dinner was a relaxed affair, and it was great to see people get out of their chairs, mingling and renewing old acquaintances following years of virtual meetings. With the swing band going in the background the sound of colleagues catching up really was something special”, said ACAPMA’s CEO Mark McKenzie
Day 2 of the conference kicked off with a keynote from another of the Captains of Industry, Angus McKay, CEO of 7 Eleven, who turned our attention to the changing Petrol-Convenience landscape with some valuable insights into the way that COVID has changed the behaviour of the convenience customer and the need for business to adapt to an increase in digital commerce. The conferencing continued with a focus on practical learnings and a focus on the future.
Day 2 concluded with ACAPMA CEO, Mark McKenzie, reflecting on the five key themes that were aired at the conference – issues that will form the foundations of ACAPMA’s advocacy activity in the year ahead as our industry adapts to the realities of the Post COVID-19 world.
- 1. Adapting to the changing Fuel supply landscape
The nature of fuel supply in Australia has been forever altered by COVID and we are yet to see whether the rise of geopolitical conflict, as now evidenced in Europe, will further alter the global supply landscape.
Australia now has just two fuel refineries in the country, with BP and Exxon Mobil electing to close their refineries in the last two years. This has resulted in new legislation being introduced by the Australian Government to incentivise the retention of the two remaining refineries, as well as legislation (that is yet to be enacted) to increase fuel stockholding requirements on industry participants (i.e. refiners and importers).
While the industry implications of this agenda are being managed by the Australian Institute of Petroleum, this is also a growing are of interest for ACAPMA as we seek to ascertain the likely flow on impacts on fuel wholesale and fuel retail businesses.
Of particular interest is the likely supply demand-balance going forward as this will have a major bearing on wholesale fuel price volatility.
We have learnt that COVID has impacted investment in global refinery production and continued speculation about the likely trajectory of alternative fuels is creating significant challenges in the maintenance of existing global refinery infrastructure and the commissioning of new assets in line with demand.
“We have to be careful that we don’t end up with the same issues that are now plaguing the stationary energy sector, where the electricity industry has retired fossil fuel generation assets at a faster rate than the rate of growth in renewable energy generation – as this will create a shortage in supply that would drive up fuel costs sharply”, said Mark
Accordingly, this is an issue that ACAPMA will continue to monitor in the next 12 months.
2. Ensuring policy honesty on EVs
In the wake of an increased community emphasis on environmental issues, all Australian politicians are falling over themselves to be announce aggressive targets for the adoption of EV’s. These targets, however, are being publicly announced without any plan – in some cases without even a basic plan – of how these targets will be achieved.
“Don’t get me wrong, ACAPMA believes that the Australian fleet will transition to majority electric drivetrain operation – be it battery electric or Hydrogen fuel cell in the future – but there is a complete absence of work on how the Australian economy will get there in any practical sense”, said Mark
There are very significant challenges to mass market adoption of EVs. These include:
(a) a national grid that does not have the spare capacity to support EVs;
(b) an absence of EV charging infrastructure;
(c) a high cost premium for EVs that mean that they will likely only be an option for well-off households; and
(d) a limitation in supply that already indicates the 2030 targets being set are unrealistic.
“There is a need for policy honesty on EV’s. Today’s politicians will likely not be around when these targets fall due and so their credibility rests on them presenting transition plans to the community now – plans that are credible”, added Mark
3. Facilitating the move from product to people centricity
COVID has seen a marked change in customer behaviours and the perception of the Australian Petrol and Convenience Channel. Our businesses have stayed open through fire, flood(s) and pandemic and the ability of our industry to provide products and services to the community has not gone unnoticed.
We have also seen a significant shift in customer behaviours, with many adopting digital payments and purchasing behaviours that must be accommodated by fuel businesses if they are to survive and thrive in the future.
“ACAPMA’s focus will be to work with our members and partners to make the transition to digital commerce easier, while simultaneously developing an expanded range of compliance and training services that support the transition from a sole focus on products to one that supports a culture of people-focussed retail”, said Mark
4. Ensuring industry regulation is prudent and practical
Our industry is one of the most regulated in the country. Our businesses must navigate an increasingly complex web of regulations from dangerous goods to environmental protection, industrial relations and wage compliance, to food safety handling and fuel price reporting.
“ACAPMA will continue to press all Australian Governments to ensure that regulation is fit for purpose and developed from a good understanding of how our industry operates”, said Mark.
“Basically, that means engaging with government during policy and regulatory processes before draft legislation is produced – and that will remain a core part of our advocacy focus in the year ahead”, added Mark.
5. Supporting mental well-being
The people in our industry are a tough lot. They provide services to the community, often in the face of uninformed criticism about fuel prices.
But in recent years, the pressure on business owners and their staff has been intense and our people are suffering fatigue. This brings substantial risks in terms of ensuring the mental well being of the people in our industry – employers and employees alike.
To that end, ACAPMA has initiated conversations with new stakeholders about how best to ‘quietly support’ those in our industry who are currently struggling with mental wellbeing.
“Ultimately, our goal is to equip our member businesses with the knowledge and expertise to provide mental first aid in workplace in the same no-nonsense way that they deal with physical first aid”, said Mark.
“The APFI Forum is an opportunity for the industry to come together, usually each year, and it is an opportunity for ACAPMA to communicate in detail its focus for the coming year, empowering delegates with not only the opportunity to engage with that focus and activity but also providing them with the information and contacts they need to succeed now and be ready for the opportunities of the future” said Mark.
“This year the APFI Forum was special, following, as it did, the long hiatus for COVID, but as a small industry association we could not deliver this first class event without the support and engagement of our sponsors and trade partners. We appreciate the support of all of our sponsors, but a special thanks goes to our Platinum Sponsors Convenience World and Marsh Insurance” added Mark.
“Next year the APFI Forum is heading to Brisbane. Running from the 4th to the 7th of September 2023, next years Forum will see the format grow in some very exciting ways working with our Platinum Sponsors, but what will not change is the detailed focus on thought leadership and quality conference content. We hope to see you there” concluded Mark.