KAP to move stronger biofuels laws in face of global fuel crisis
18th March 2022
Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) Deputy Leader and Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto has flagged his plans to strengthen the State’s ethanol mandate, calling the current legislation a “wet lettuce leaf” that enables global oil companies to laugh all the way to the bank at the expense of Queenslanders.
Currently E10 fuel in Queensland must have no more than 10 per cent ethanol in the blend, but the lack of a ‘floor figure’ means E10 pumped from the bowser may contain as little as 1 per cent ethanol.
Australia’s lack of fuel security has dominated the public sphere since the Russian invasion of the Ukraine triggered international oil prices to soar.
This has led to an unprecedented price hike at the bowsers, with a litre of unleaded now costing more than $2.20.
Pressure has mounted this week for the Prime Minister to approve a petrol excise tax cut, but KAP MPs have argued the short-sighted policy would be a “band-aid on a bullet hole” and would do nothing to address the nation’s dismal fuel security dilemma.
Mr Dametto said Australia currently produced less than 10 per cent of its own fuel, down from 40 per cent in 2000, and was now beholden to fragile international supply chains and price structures.
He said Queensland should have a thriving biofuels sector and, with its abundant sugar cane crop that could easily diversify away from sugar production to ethanol the only thing holding it back is solid government support.
Queensland is one of two Australian states to have an ethanol mandate and, despite it coming into effect in 2017 after significant lobbying by the KAP, the mandate target has never been reached or enforced.
By law at least four per cent of unleaded fuel sold in the State should be ethanol, however the current sale rate is a measly 2.9 per cent and around half of all fuel retailers operating in Queensland have been exempt from the State’s ethanol mandate at any given time.
Mr Dametto said the number of exemptions, which can be given at the discretion of the Minister for a variety of reasons, signalled a failure of the current policy and the shallow degree to which the Palaszczuk Labor Government was committed to the biofuels sector.
“It is madness that the ethanol mandate is not being taken seriously, and frankly, offensive the degree to which the fuel companies are being allowed to flout the law,” he 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.
“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 environmental policy, a cause they seek to champion when it suits them.
“How can they be taken seriously in regard to electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles if the State can’t get setting up a biofuel’s industry right?”
The KAP’s Bill will seek to amend the State’s ethanol mandate to so that all fuel retailers must take reasonable action to ensure that the E10/ethanol-blended fuel they sell contains a minimum of 9 per cent and a maximum of 10 per cent ethanol and advertised as such, while also increasing to penalties for non-compliance by fuel retailers with the Act.
“In response to the growing concerns from consumers, the KAP has been spurred on to bring forward its legislative efforts to tighten the ethanol mandate – this law must be strengthened to promote an up take of biofuels in Queensland to bolster our national fuel security,” Mr Dametto said.