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Monday, 20 June 2011
Page: 3316

Senator FIELDING (VictoriaLeader and Whip of the Family First Party) (19:38): Today we are debating a package of four bills that deal with content based taxation to certain alternative fuels: the Taxation of Alternative Fuels Legislation Amendment Bill 2011, the Excise Tariff Amendment (Taxation of Alternative Fuels) Bill 2011, the Customs Tariff Amendment (Taxation of Alternative Fuels) Bill 2011 and the Energy Grants (Cleaner Fuels) Scheme Amendment Bill 2011. The bills seek to extend the grant given to biodiesel, renewable diesel and ethanol, which is 38.143c per litre. This grant is due to expire on 30 June 2011—that's right, next week. At the same time, the bills phase in a fuel excise on LPG, LNG and CNG from 1 December 2011, with stated increases through to 2015.

Recently I visited a biodiesel plant in my home state of Victoria to see firsthand how the industry operates. I heard how important this grant is to the industry and how, without it, the whole biodiesel industry could be wiped out. That is not something that I want to see, especially given that the biodiesel industry is on the verge of finding even more efficiencies through its independent research. Alternative fuels such as biodiesel, renewable diesel and ethanol are worthy of support, and I am critically aware that to delay passage of this legislation would seriously jeopardise these industries. The grant is due to expire, as I said, on 30 June 2011, so there is urgency to pass this package of bills.

The decision by the government to introduce an excise on LPG is certainly not something I would advocate as it would impact on motorists who have converted their cars to LPG and the taxi industry. Successive governments from both sides have encouraged families to convert their vehicles to LPG while at the same time indicating they would impose an excise. Unfortunately, families are not aware that this has been a move by both sides of parliament. Nevertheless, it is important not to ignore the other components of this package of bills. Given that it is critical that the alternative fuels grant continue beyond 30 June 2011, I have no choice but to support the package of bills.