Skip to main content

Editorial comment

Which of Australia’s international exports do you think was recently described as a “source of national pride” by the country’s Treasurer, Jim Chalmers? “[Its] brilliance”, Chalmers says, “is not just as an export but as a symbol of Australia. Nothing says Australia quite like Bluey.”

Register for free »
Get started now for absolutely FREE, no credit card required.

For any readers with children (or grandchildren) under 7 years old, it’s likely you will be familiar with Bluey – a television show about an animated family of four Australian cattle dogs. But for those of you who aren’t, I say this: you’re missing out. There is good reason why this Aussie animation has taken the world by storm and amassed record viewing figures (in the US, where it is streamed on Disney+, it was the most streamed show of any genre in early December 2023). Put simply, the show is a delight, for children and adults alike. It is thoughtful and funny and heart-warming in equal measure. If you have seven minutes to spare, I would highly recommend giving it a try (some of my personal favourite episodes include ‘Flatpack’, ‘Octopus’, ‘Stumpfest’ and ‘Sleepytime’).

However, as successful as Bluey has been as a cultural export, it has not been as lucrative as it could have been for Australia’s national broadcaster, ABC. In 2017, the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) attained the broadcasting rights for the show globally (excluding Australia), as well as licensing and merchandising rights worldwide (including Australia). In the BBC’s annual report last year, it was singled out as a significant factor in its 28% revenue increase to £2 billion.1

Another of Australia’s successful − and more profitable − exports is LNG. However, the sector is coming under pressure. The country has been toppled as the world’s top LNG exporter by the US, and the government’s Department of Industry, Sciences and Resources expects exports to decline to 80 million t in 2023 - 2024 and 78 million t in 2024 - 2025, compared to 83 million t in 2021 - 2022. In turn, earnings from exports are forecast to fall from AU$92 billion in 2022 - 2023 to AU$73 billion in 2023 - 2024 and AU$64 billion in 2024 - 2025.

The country’s LNG sector faces growing fiscal, regulatory and legal pressures that producers worry could threaten investment. Last year, the President and CEO of INPEX, Takayuki Ueda, suggested that Australia is “quietly quitting” the LNG business, following increased government regulations.

There is also concern that LNG demand will be impacted by weakening economic prospects in some Asian countries, and increasing reliance on renewables. However, demand across Asia surged in the second half of 2023, with imports rising to a record 26.61 million t in December 2023 (largely driven by China).

In this issue of Hydrocarbon Engineering, we take a forensic look at the country’s downstream petroleum industry (as well as developments in its neighbouring Australasian countries). Starting on p. 8, Contributing Editor, Nancy Yamaguchi, discusses the wholesale retreat of Australasia’s refining sector, the partial recovery in oil product demand, and the impacts on oil product trade.

  1. FILDES, N., ‘How Australia’s ‘Bluey’ conquered children’s entertainment’, Financial Times, (1 January 2024).

View profile