There are calls for the federal government to come to the rescue of Australia's second-largest oil refinery, with its long-term future under a cloud amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Maritime Union of Australia wants the Morrison government to ponder a public takeover of a Victorian refinery at Corio near Geelong.
As Victorian businesses continue to rail against the government's "roadmap", owner Viva Energy is reportedly considering a full shutdown of the plant to curtail "unsustainable" losses.
The plant supplies about 10 per cent of Australia's liquid fuel needs and is one of only four domestic oil refineries still in operation.
MUA Victorian Branch secretary Shane Stevens said the fuel supplier was using slumping demands as a "bargaining chip" for a taxpayer-funded cash grab.
Rather than bow to the threat, Mr Stevens says Canberra should explore purchasing the refinery to strengthen Australia's self-sufficiency and ensure it has adequate domestic refining capacity.
"The corporate sector is only interested in profits, not Australia's national security," he said in a statement on Tuesday.
"Taking this essential facility into public hands is a far better outcome than simply pouring taxpayer dollars into the pockets of Viva's shareholders."
Australia is heavily reliant on imported liquid fuel, with a 2019 government interim report finding about 90 per cent of the nation's fuel is derived from overseas-sourced oil.
Mr Stevens said Australia was "extremely vulnerable" due to its reliance on internationally-owned tankers to deliver the fuel, an arrangement that couldn't be guaranteed during future crises.
"The federal government must build the resilience of this vital supply chain by increasing domestic storage and refining capacity as well as taking control of how liquid fuels arrive in Australia," he said.
The Geelong Region Alliance is also lobbying regional ministers at both federal and state levels to save the refinery which employs 700 workers.
"Now is the time for Canberra and Spring Street to work hand in glove to find a workable solution for Viva's Geelong refinery to remain operational," G21 CEO Elaine Carbines told the Geelong Advertiser.