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Minister comments on measures aimed at boosting the ethanol industry.

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Thursday 12 September 2002



Minister comments on measures aimed at boosting the ethanol industry.



HAMISH ROBERTSON: The Federal Government has just announced measures a imed at boosting Australia's ethanol industry. 


From next week, ethanol, which can be produced from either sugar, or grains, will be taxed at the same rate as petrol when it is used in fuel, but the producers will get that amount back as a subsidy. 


The measures are aimed at encouraging the ethanol industry in Australia. It's been pushed hard by sugar producers, who see turning their product into ethanol as a viable alternative to using it as food. 


Louise Yaxley has just spoken to the Federal Agriculture Minister, Warren Truss. 


LOUISE YAXLEY: How will this announcement on ethanol help the sugar industry in Australia? 


WARREN TRUSS: Well it will help build confidence, for the ethanol industry in Australia, of the Government's commitment to help build a major bio-fuels industry in Australia.  


And to give it the confidence that this industry will have a secure future. 


LOUISE YAXLEY: Why didn't the Government then go further and act on the suggestions it had received very strongly, from some, to make a particular level of ethanol mandatory in petrol? 


WARREN TRUSS: This particular decision is an interim; one for 12 months, while we complete the work being undertaken through the five million dollar study on the use of ethanol as a fuel is Australia.  


We hope later in the year to have sufficient information to be able to make decisions about a permanent regime to support the bio-fuel industry in Australia and to meet the Government's election commitment to increase the share of bio-fuels in our fuel mix to 350 million litres by 2010. 


LOUISE YAXLEY: How much resistance are you getting from the petroleum industry against this push to increase this use of ethanol in petrol? 


WARREN TRUSS: Over recent weeks, the petroleum industry has been very helpful in engaging in discussions about the Government's commitment to have an increased proportion of bio-fuels in our fuel mix.  


They are looking at constructive ways of delivering on the Government's election commitment. BP is already distributing an ethanol mix through service stations in Brisbane, and other fuel companies are looking at ways in which they can include ethanol in their fuel supplies as well... 




WARREN TRUSS: There is a constructive approach at the present time coming from the fuel companies. 


LOUISE YAXLEY: But they don't want it to be mandatory, do they? 


WARREN TRUSS: They would prefer that it not be mandatory, this will give the industry an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to ethanol and will help assist the industry help assist the Government to make a decision about whether a mandatory level is an appropriate way to further underpin the future of this industry. 


LOUISE YAXLEY: What does it mean for consumers? 


WARREN TRUSS: Consumers will have the opportunity to buy fuel with an ethanol mix, that's good for the environment, it's good for the rural and regional communities that will produce much of this new ethanol blend and it's good also for Australia in reducing our dependence on imported and dwindling oil stocks. 


LOUISE YAXLEY: Are these measures enough to promote the use of ethanol so that it is actually available widely and it does become a part of Australian petrol? 


WARREN TRUSS: This is just the first step in the Government's approach towards building a successful ethanol industry in Australia.  


We'll be looking later at the year about what more we need to do to help secure the future of this industry and to help guarantee that the Government's election commitment of increasing the level of bio-fuel used in Australia is delivered. 


HAMISH ROBERTSON: Agricultural Minister, Warren Truss speaking there to Louise Yaxley.