“..There is immense bureaucratic opposition to having a meaningful strategic reserve in Australia. This is part of a now anachronistic faith in globalisation and just-in-time economics. The government, in thrall to the bureaucracy, wants to count oil we have purchased, or have a guaranteed right to purchase, as part of our reserves. The Petroleum Institute agrees.

That is fine, as is everything we do, so long as we never face a real crisis. Unlike the Menzies generation of leaders, who ruled with the living memory of two world wars, our bureaucracy cannot take seriously the prospect of a real crisis ever confronting Australia.

Peter Jennings, of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, delivers this withering judgment: “I don’t think it’s a credible guarantee.

“In an emergency the Americans, like any country, would privilege their own needs. The only realistic option is to bite the bullet and develop modern fuel farms. Sensible nations like Japan and Israel have done this.”

Former deputy prime minister John Anderson labels it “a matter of national urgency” to establish the 90-day onshore reserve. “We are so vulnerable to a fuel supply shock,’’ he says..”