Fuel retailers given hall pass on State’s ethanol mandate

24th January 2022

Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said Queensland’s biofuels potential was being hampered by the Palaszczuk Labor Government.

Almost half of all fuel retailers operating in Queensland have been exempt from the State’s ethanol mandate at any given time, signalling a failure of the current policy and the shallow degree to which the Palaszczuk Labor Government is committed to the biofuels sector.

Katter’s Australian Party Deputy Leader and Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said any time between January 2018 to June 2021, 47 per cent of the fuel companies liable to comply with the mandate had been provided an exemption.

He said the revelation, which meant the current ethanol sale rate of 2.9 per cent was not a surprise, indicated that laws in Queensland applying to multinational fuel companies were made to be broken.

“It is madness that the ethanol mandate is not being taken seriously, and frankly, offensive the degree to which the fuel retailers are being allowed to flout the law,” Mr Dametto said.

“The KAP pushed the mandate through the Parliament back in 2017 because we wanted to improve our nation’s fuel security, value-add to existing agriculture industries, bring down the cost of fuel and importantly, reduce tail-pipe emissions that are damaging not only to the environment but also to our health.

“More than 1,500 Australian deaths can be attributed to tailpipe emissions each year, and by international fuel standards ours is the dirtiest in the world – the U91 fuel still for sale here is not accepted in many countries around the world.

“E10 can reduce these emissions by 30 per cent, and more if higher blends are used.

“The current state of the mandate in Queensland significantly erodes the State Labor Government’s credibility on the environment, which is a cause they champion constantly to drive policy agendas.

“How can we be talking about electric, let alone hydrogen-powered, vehicles if the State can’t even get enforcement right on a measly four per cent biofuel mandate?”

Queensland Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Mick de Brenni admitted the failure of the State’s mandate in his reply to a Question on Notice from Mr Dametto, published late last year.[1]

“Since the introduction of the mandate, there have been 164 time-limited exemptions granted to fuel retailers. Since January 2018 to June 2021, the average percentage of liable fuel retailers holding an exemption in each quarter is 47 per cent,” Mr de Brenni said.

“When the mandate was introduced, fuel retailers needed time to investigate retail site infrastructure compatibility with ethanol, potential infrastructure upgrades and costs, and E10 availability at each site.

“The dominant grounds for exemptions included the unreasonable cost of compliance to upgrade infrastructure, incompatible infrastructure with compliance plans (such as infrastructure upgrade programs to convert sites to sell E10) and that E10 was not available from their fuel supplier.”

Mr Dametto said it was confusing that fuel companies operating across the State were still struggling to handle ethanol-blended fuel given at least 65 countries across the world had mandates in place.

He said former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie had also paved the road to compliance back in 2005 as part of the Smart State strategy, offering million dollar-plus in rebates back to fuel retailers who cleaned storage tanks and converted their bowsers and signage to handle ethanol fuel.[2]

“Ensuring the ethanol mandate is complied with, and possibly even expanded, will be one of the KAP’s major priorities in 2022,” Mr Dametto said.

[1] https://documents.parliament.qld.gov.au/tableoffice/questionsanswers/2021/1436-2021.pdf

[2] https://www.smh.com.au/national/qld-government-push-for-ethanol-20050412-gdl42n.html

Nick Dametto MP