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Monday, 20 June 2005
Page: 143

Mr MURPHY (5:11 PM) —Recently, as part of a study tour, I visited Brazil to obtain further information about its sugar cane and ethanol industries and the benefits, both environmental and economical, that are flowing to that country. I am very pleased to see that the members for Hinkler and Herbert are in the chamber here this evening to hear what I have to say.

Mr Neville —We are great supporters of the sugar industry.

Mr MURPHY —I know you are. The Brazilian government first mandated a five per cent addition of ethanol to gasoline in 1931. Following the international oil crises of 1973 and 1979, Brazil rapidly increased its production of sugarcane to the point where, today, it is the leading sugarcane and ethanol producer in the world. By adding ethanol to gasoline, Brazil has secured its energy needs and created many job opportunities as well as a reduction in pollution and the lowering of greenhouse gas emissions.

It is well known that sugarcane producers in Australia are struggling. My concern is that the government continues to subsidise an inefficient industry without helping it to go in different directions—for example, by providing further financial assistance to the sugarcane producers to encourage them to make ethanol. It is also well known that the oil industry is a very powerful lobby. It is disgraceful that many petrol stations in Sydney put out messages guaranteeing that no ethanol is mixed in the gasoline. This perpetuates the myth to Sydney motorists that ethanol is harmful to the motors of ordinary cars. Nothing could be further from the truth. A mix of 10 per cent ethanol with gasoline is a very safe and environmentally friendly measure.

In Brazil today, all cars run on a minimum of 25 per cent ethanol. Brazil has shown the world that the use of ethanol to power motor vehicles is the way to go, both environmentally and economically. I can report first hand that the Brazilians are laughing at the almost daily price hikes in the cost of a barrel of oil. Oil is a finite resource and it is not environmentally friendly, so today I call on the Howard government to follow Brazil’s example and to do everything to assist and encourage the production of ethanol in Australia. I am sure that one day, once Australians discover for themselves that the mix of 10 per cent ethanol with gasoline is not dangerous to their motor vehicles, Australia, like Brazil, will produce cars that run on 25 per cent to 100 per cent ethanol. That would be good for our environment and for the economy.