Maribyrnong City Council Peak Oil Contingency Plan

As one of a team of three at The Institute for Sensible Transport working on this project, I'm very pleased to be able to announce Australia's first Peak Oil Contingency Plan, developed by Maribyrnong City Council in inner west Melbourne.

This follows on from Maribyrnong's first steps in developing a Peak Oil Policy and Action Plan which we talked about in early 2008 here at The Oil Drum.

Here is the Media Release about the Peak Oil Contingency Plan from Maribyrnong City Council:

Maribyrnong City Council’s Peak Oil Contingency Plan first for Australia

Making history as the first-ever local government organisation to strategically address the impacts of rising oil prices, Maribyrnong City Council has completed their Peak Oil Contingency Plan.

The newly completed Peak Oil Contingency Plan spells out the threats and shifts required by Council to achieve the same level of community service provision in times of reduced oil availability and subsequent escalated prices.

In April 2008, Council endorsed the Peak Oil Policy and Action Plan following engagement with the Maribyrnong community. The Peak Oil Contingency Plan, one of the recommendations listed in Council’s Peak Oil Action Plan, was undertaken by Council’s consultants, Institute for Sensible Transport.

“As the level of government closest to the community, it’s local Councils that residents will turn to in times of peak oil crisis when petrol prices will become unaffordable and food prices will skyrocket,” said the Mayor of the City of Maribyrnong, Cr Michael Clarke.

“And it’s the very core community services provided by Councils that will be potentially affected by a reduction of oil availability, yet it’s these same services that cannot be compromised. This includes things like rubbish collection, home meal deliveries and other aged care, maternal and child health services and our road maintenance programs.”

“The Peak Oil Contingency Plan illustrates the ways we can maintain these services and survive significant threats, with as little impact on our community as possible when times of limited oil supply hit global and local economies.”

“In coordinating our responses to peak oil threats, Council will introduce a greater level of resilience into our operations, as well as assist in creating a more resilient, prepared community,” said Cr Clarke.

The Peak Oil Contingency Plan has made a number of recommendations, which will be worked into the annual Peak Oil Action Plan.

“We have been on the front foot the last few years in addressing environmental issues, with our carbon neutral commitment. Some of the Contingency Plan actions have already been implemented, while others will require greater planning and resources. Nevertheless, we are steadily implementing key steps to prepare Council for a reduction in global oil supply,” said Cr Clarke.

Recommendations in the Plan to boost resilience to oil depletion included:

  • Introduce car pooling software, boost work from home options and encourage sustainable transport use and video conferencing facilities
  • Create opportunities for urban food production
  • Boost the proportion of Council budget dedicated to sustainable transport
  • Advocate to State and Federal Governments for improved public transport
  • Reduce demand for oil consumption across Council service areas.”

Cr Clarke said Council is continuing to embark on an exciting, challenging journey to tackle Peak Oil and has undertaken considerable work so far to ensure Council’s core services are delivered in an environmentally sustainable way.

“We have incorporated our Peak Oil work into existing Council processes such as our Risk Management Framework, Council Policies and our Business Continuity models. From here, there is plenty more to be done – and now that we are equipped with out Peak Oil Contingency Plan, we are ready for the challenge,” said Cr Clarke.

Here is what Elliot Fishman at the Institute for Sensible Transport had to say:

Our team worked closely with council staff to assess council’s operations and vulnerability to oil supply constraints. This process led to the identification of ten service areas considered most vulnerable to either a short or long term reduction in available fuel supplies.

We facilitated a workshop in which council staff nominated the key threats to their business area posed by a reduction in fuel availability and what response measures they could implement to mitigate against these threats.

Using a risk management approach, we were able to develop risk profiles for each of the ten service areas and prioritise the recommendations made by council staff. This analysis enabled our team to provide practical recommendations to assist council to meet its fuel use reduction targets and increase Maribyrnong’s resilience to future threats posed by fuel supply disruptions.

Project deliverables:

  • Analysis of local demographics and transport patterns
  • Analysis of council’s operations, services and oil consumption
  • Identification of ten critical service areas most vulnerable to oil supply disruptions
  • Facilitated workshop with over 35 council staff
  • Risk analysis of service areas against a short and long term reduction in oil supply
  • Critical analysis and prioritization of response measures to oil depletion
  • Recommendations to increase council and community resilience to future oil supply disruptions.

The full report is available from the Institute for Sensible Transport website here (2.8MB PDF).

Maribyrnong is one of several local Government organisations in Australia starting to move on peak oil, so we hope to see more peak oil policies and action and contingency plans soon. Thanks to my colleagues Elliot and Joe, and Grace and Gavin and the rest of the team at Maribyrnong for what was a very interesting and enjoyable project to be involved with.

Maybe the next level of Government will step up to the challenge soon?

Thanks For the Post Phil. I gather from the comment that you had some input. Would you care to share a bit more about what they were looking at? Maribrynong at least has electric trams and trains.
Also, you make note of a hope that "next level of Government will step up to the challenge soon" I left John Brumby with a copy of "The Last Oil Shock: A Survival Guide to the Imminent Extinction of Petroleum Man by David Strahan" around September 2008. If he has read it, it very well describes the problem.
(I didn't actually think it offered much in the way of survival tips despite its title). My personal view was that Victoria is in real trouble. I voted with my feet and moved my family to Tasmania.

Thanks again Phil for your efforts!.



Am about to download the report and have a read. May send it to my local councillors who are all facing an election in October!

AusDarren - do you think you have jumped out of the frying pan into the fire? We live on an island. All our fuel, vast majority of our manufactured food and goods comes to us via sea transport and we rely heavily on a fly-in and drive tourist industry. All exports go out via sea and air? Sorry to spoil your decision to move. :-(

The Victorian energy grid is under threat. The Latrobe Valley is not being maintained adequatly since privatisation, (serious load shedding already happens over summer.) The possibility of an emission trading scheme is not helping at all. I expect increasing blackouts as a result.

Tasmania has a low population, the electricity supply is almost pure hydro, is not over developed, has an ability to grow food for its population. The rail network while not perfect at least exists. There are several steam engines in usable condition.
The cities are small. Distances between towns are small. owning a horse or pony is very popular. Also being an island, it offers significant protection. Tourism is not a sustainable industry in a post peak world.
Yes Tasmania does have some challenges, and they should not be underestimated, but so does everywhere else. Australia's manufacturing industry, textile footwear and clothing, have all but disappeared replaced by imports.

I am very happy with our decision to move. and I love it here as well.

The report is most interesting, though I suspect a 3% decline may be rather optimistic. Which council area are you in Tassie Tiger?
I am in Northern Midlands.

Thanks for the comments!


G'day AusDarren,

Don't get me wrong. I love the place. I am an Islander born and bred here. I think we are in a unique position to deal with PO but only if we act now. Are you involved with the Transition Tasmania Network where you are?

Just a note re hydro power. Until very recently we were importing between 25 and 30% of our power from the coal fired stations on the mainland via Basslink. It use to rain here a lot more than it has!!!!

I live in the City of Clarence which takes in the eastern shore of the Derwent River in Hobart and all our councillors are up for election in October so the report is very timely.

BTW we have 4 horses.

Tassie Tiger

Just as a side note, tourism should be fine. NZ had nearly the same tourism income in real terms in 1880 as it does now. With slow steamers taking weeks to reach the destination, wealthy people would spend many months touring around at a leisurely pace on slow train, coastal ships, and would stop in every little town along the way.

A lot less tourists, but not much less money coming in. In the post-oil world, zeppelins, electric trains, and fast sailcraft could bring you a valuable tourist trade.

Or maybe they'll just virtual travel over the internet. 8]

tussock, just a cationary note.

Just as a side note, tourism should be fine. NZ had nearly the same tourism income in real terms in 1880 as it does now.

Predicting the future based upon the past is a bit of a mugs game. This is the very technique we criticise economists and market watchers for using.

Once we enter our "special period" of energy and capital decline we must pass through sorting out the distribution of political power and resource distribution. As this progresses other secondary activities such as tourism will take on some sort of clarity and stability.

In my view we should allow at least a couple of generations for the most disruptive phase this transition process. Also this decline and transition will likely be on going for many more generations and and be very unpredictable and probably violent. Bass Straight might make a somewhat effective moat, however perhaps everyone shouyld go over to Port Arthur, sit on an old stone wall and think about why Tasmania was such an effective prison.
By the way, I back-packed around Tass in 1971 and loved it and the people.
You might be interested in some nostalgia.

Thanks AusDarren..

The actions were very specific to the provision of council services rather than the community as a whole. Also our role was to facilitate the process and for staff to generate the ideas for their own areas, rather than us trying to come up with the ideas.

So much of the focus was on things like getting council staff to work, working from home, creating larger inventories of critical supplies (to mitigate short-term disruptions), alliances with other local government organisations to share staff/resources, alternative supplies of critical goods etc.

Probably the more significant ideas were those around changing the delivery model for some of the service areas - eg rather than services to people's home's being delivered by a few people travelling many kms, the idea is to move to a more 'distributed' service delivery model, where local people provide the care/support that people in their area need, thus substantially reducing the amount of fuel used.

If you want more than that.. you can read the report! :-)

Based on my interactions with a few Minister's and their advisors, I'm not at all optimistic about State or Federal Government showing much of a lead on peak oil anytime soon, but can only hope..

Interesting comment you make about state and federal government's Phil. I tend to agree. I believe they will be driven by local communities who will/have started the ball rolling on dealing with peak oil and will eventually demand that the pollies get their act together.

I came across this article in my google alerts.

Interesting contrast in local government views across the expanse of one city.

Excellent activity by all concerned. I will pass on to Adelaide's Holdfast Bay council. It will come as something most perplexing to them.

First the oil runs out and then the sea comes up...

I see that some of the heavily-populated parts of Maribrynong are only 2 metres above sea level.

Well done on the PO Plan though.

Maybe the next level of Government will step up to the challenge soon?

Unlikely. The QLD Government was handed Robert McNamaras Peak Oil report a year or two back. It was front page of The Courier Tabloid for a day, and promptly dissapeared into the aether, never to be seen again.

At least his 'replacement', Rachael Nolan, Minister for Transport, is a Peaknik. SHe doiesn't appear to be having a huge amount of public success, however, although that could simply be a sort of confirmation bias, because a lot of useless infrastructure stuff (like Clem7 tunnel, AirportLink, Gateway duplication) was already underway when she got elected.

AusDarren, Tassie Tiger I'm another refugee from the mainland been here five years living near Mt Field. I don't know about drying out we had 1000 mm of rain June-July-August.

I sent an email to my local council (Central Highlands) last week pointing out they assume we would all have cars and plenty of fuel in years to come. No reply but I guess it's there for reference as in 'I pointed this out way back in 2009'.

When you live on back roads it's scary how car dependent you are. To test the alternative I plan to cycle or motorbike 3km to the nearest bitumen road to take the 6.50 am college bus into Hobart suburbs, then take the metro bus into the CBD. I'll do enough shopping to fill a small backpack then return mid afternoon. They reckon it was island inbreeding that really caused the extinction of the Tasmanian Tiger, not hunting. Without cars we could be headed the same way.

Be sure to send us a few words about your travel experiment Boof so we can include it as a guest post on TOD! Take a picture too :-) Sounds like fun..

And I was also born in Tassie and Hobart is a place I'd love to live in again.

I think there are some people (educated citizens of TOD excluded) who plan their post-peak self sufficiency move to the country without realising just how car dependent you can be when you are a long way on dirt roads from the nearest shop. You have to be REALLY committed to being self-sufficient or it can be a worse outcome. I'd rather live close or even in a nice size rural town - one with some nice engineering jobs and plenty of rain would be perfect!


Another Tasmanian moving back from the mainland

Just in the process of buying a property down South near Ida Bay.

Best wishes for the future

Whaddayaknow, here's something I helped dig up just a few kilometres from Ida Bay.

Hello Boof,

Good to hear from you

Thanks for the picture bit unfortunately I can't make out what it is?

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Australia in last quarter of its oil age (paper distributed at ALP
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Submission Fuel & Energy Inquiry Senate

Sunmission Energy White Paper 2009

Submission Aviation Green paper

Electric rail crash program

NW Transport Inquiry

End of Freeways; submission #47 F3-M7 corridor review

Submission #69 to Senate Inquiry on oil supplies

How Cross City Tunnel planners ignored peak oil

Critique of BTRE working paper 61: Is the world running out of oil?

Critique of Howard's Energy White Paper

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