Environmental Benefits Ignored as Parliament Rejects Biofuels Bill
Queensland’s ethanol and biofuels industries has been dealt a significant blow as both major parties, and surprisingly even the Greens voted against Katter’s Australian Party’s (KAP) Liquid Fuel Supply (Minimum Biobased Petrol Content) Amendment Bill 2022 (the Bill).
The Bill offered a potential lifeline to Queensland’s struggling ethanol and biofuels industry, and its rejection raises concerns about the missed opportunities for Queensland’s economic growth and environmental sustainability when it comes to ethanol, sugar cane and grain production.
Hinchinbrook MP and KAP Deputy Leader, Nick Dametto first introduced the Bill into the Queensland Parliament in October 2022. The Bill sought to strengthen Queensland’s biofuels industry by increasing penalties for fuel retailers that fail to comply with the State’s four per cent bio-based petrol mandate, which since being implemented in 2017, has never been achieved.
Secondly, the Bill sought to assure consumers that the E10 they choose to purchase for their vehicle actually contains a minimum quantity of ethanol (nine per cent). Currently there is no floor value for ethanol content in E10 and the fuel could contain as little as one per cent ethanol.
The Hinchinbrook MP said he introduced the Bill not only because of its environmental benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions but because it would also support regional economies and communities by providing an increased market for locally grown crops.
“Producers such as the Dalby Bio-Refinery have been crying out for State Government support. The KAP has always backed ethanol in Queensland and that is why we put together this simple piece of legislation.
“The four per cent ethanol mandate has never been met and there have been a number of exemptions given. In fact, up to a quarter of all retailers in Queensland currently have an exemption for not selling four per cent bio-based petrol from the total volume of all petrol sold,” Mr Dametto said.
“Not one fine has been handed out to those larger retailers who have failed to comply with the mandate and that is why KAP introduced two amendments within this legislation.
“The first amendment was to double the fines for those larger, non-compliant retailers. This would send a strong message to those deliberately rorting the system. Secondly, for those consumers who choose to do the right thing by the environment and want to support the grain and sugar industry, they should be assured that when they purchase E10, they are getting at least nine per cent ethanol in that fuel.
“Currently in Queensland there is no floor in the ethanol content in bio-based fuels, meaning E10 could contain as little as one per cent ethanol. In New South Wales they have a floor of nine per cent and a ceiling of ten per cent which is also easy to achieve in Queensland.
“Tonight it was pretty disappointing that I had to respond to several Liberal and Labor MPs who had obviously not even bothered to read the legislation. The errors and misconceptions included everything from getting the actual penalty amounts incorrect through to spreading blatant falsities about E10 in Queensland and how small businesses would be adversely impacted.
“The Bill was very straightforward and wouldn’t have impacted on smaller retailers at all. Mum and dad service stations are already automatically exempt from the mandate under the existing legislation and guidelines.
“Thank you to the Member for Mirani and the Member for Noosa who both saw this Bill for what it was and voted with KAP.
“Both sides of Parliament, united in their negligence, have done a huge disservice to Queensland and our State’s biofuels industry by misinterpreting this Bill. I am not sure how either of their constituents and political supporters from the sugar cane growing regions will feel about their decision.”
KAP Member for Hill, Shane Knuth MP said the Bill was so simple and uncomplicated, it should have been a no brainer to support.
“It does not disadvantage small retail fuel operators who remain exempt under the current legislation,” he said.
“All it does is simply ensure that Queenslanders are getting what they pay for and retailers promoting E10 are actually supplying E10 mixed fuel with at least nine per cent ethanol.
“The Government not supporting this Bill sends a clear message that all their posturing on a clean future for Queenslanders is just an act.”
The rejection of the Bill comes as a significant setback for both the ethanol industry and Queensland’s broader goals of environmental responsibility.
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