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Wednesday, 10 September 2003
Page: 19777

Mrs GASH (9:56 AM) —This morning there is an article in the Sydney Morning Herald by Mike Seccombe making all sorts of outrageous claims about millions of vehicles not being able to take ethanol. To say I am confused by these suggestions is an understatement. These sorts of statements fly in the face of the recognised world situation on the issue. I should add that this information has not been released as a federal government research report and I am told that there is considerable dispute as to the accuracy of some of these statements. So let us cut through the politics of this.

Petrol companies around the globe use ethanol in their petrol. Car companies—Toyota, Honda, Ford and the others—produce cars that run very well on ethanol. In Europe and the United States they would laugh at these sorts of accusations, but somehow in Australia world best practice on renewable additives to fuel is not worth knowing about. Someone is running a campaign based on misinformation and half-truths about ethanol, and I believe that this is part of a plan to demolish a viable and successful regional industry. I will not sit by and watch the oil companies bring the ethanol industry to its knees. For most of the cars on this list, the car companies have admitted that it takes a minor adjustment in the engine management systems for their cars to happily accept an ethanol additive.

Ethanol is good for the environment and it is good for the regional economy, and that means jobs in Gilmore, in Gwydir and in Dawson—and in your electorate, too, Mr Deputy Speaker! I make no apology for unashamedly standing up for this issue when it means environmental benefits for all Australians and secure employment for rural and regional families. Adding ethanol to fuel is one of the government's practical environmental initiatives. It is time for the same oil companies that sell ethanol in their petrol every day of the week around the globe to take down—and I repeat, take down—their `no ethanol' signs.

But we should ask the question: where are the Labor Party on ethanol? Do they actually have a policy on ethanol? Why is it that they refuse to take a stand for the employment security of regional Australian families? I repeat: it is part of a plan to demolish an existing industry. I will not watch the destruction of an industry take place because of lies, innuendo and the Labor Party's trying to score points at the expense of workers and families in my electorate of Gilmore. I really hope that the Labor Party start playing sensible games on this issue, which, as I said, is important to the electorate of Gilmore. There is no doubt that ethanol cannot be used for pre-1986 cars, two-stroke engines, motorcycles, outboards and aircraft. We have stated that, and with the labelling proposal for the petrol bowsers this will be made very clear to the Australian public.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. I.R. Causley)—Order! In accordance with standing order 275A the time for members' statements has concluded.