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Ethanol bounty scheme must be restored, research grant provided: Democrats

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Senator Meg Lees Senator John Woodley Australian Democrats Australian Democrats

Environment Spokesperson Rural Affairs Spokesman

October 28,1996______ MEDIA RELEASE___________ 96/708


THE Coalition Government may back down on a $2 million research grant promised to the ethanol industry after its disastrous Budget decision to end the ethanol fuel bounty scheme, the Australian Democrats say.

Democrats Environment Spokesperson Senator Meg Lees said the Government did not appear to be committed to the $2 million grant, which was planned to demonstrate technology used to produce ethanol from lignocellulosic waste.

"I have been told by ethanol industry sources that the Government, after months of saying the grant will go ahead, has decided to sit on the funds until it has evaluated an ethanol research and development program," Senator Lees said. "I do not trust this Government's commitment to environmentally friendly programs and I fear the ethanol industry is about to be dealt another blow."

Senator Lees and Democrats Rural Spokesperson Senator John Woodley this morning toured the Manildra Group's Nowra ethanol plant and discussed the impact on rural Australia of the Government's decision to scrap the bounty scheme.

Senator Woodley said the ethanol story was indicative of a Government which had no concern for regional and rural Australia.

"I am appalled that an initiative as important as this for rural jobs and regional development should be discarded by a Government supposedly elected as friends of the Bush," Senator Woodley said.

"What has this Government got against supporting value-added primary industries and initiatives of business people trying to develop regional Australia?"

Senator Lees and Senator Woodley called on the Government to restore the ethanol fuel bounty scheme and make a commitment that the $2 million ethanol grant would still be offered.

"Manildra Group has injected $28 million into its plant and production in an effort to bring an environmentally friendly fuel onto the market. The abolition of the ethanol fuel rebate has been a severe blow to the company and to the growers," Senator Lees said.

To arrange comment phone Senator Lees on (06) 277 3765 or Senator Woodley on (06) 277 3728 or 0419 025 150.

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