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Wednesday, 10 September 2003
Page: 19698

Mr GRIFFIN (2:57 PM) —My question is to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage. Can the minister confirm that the ethanol working group received over four weeks ago a list from motor vehicle manufacturers indicating what passenger vehicles should not use ethanol blended fuel? Is the minister aware that, based on this list, more than 3½ million cars in Australia should not use ethanol blended fuel? Can the minister confirm that this list includes popular models such as pre-1988 Ford Falcons and pre-1994 Mazda 323 vehicles? Why has the government again withheld this report from the Australian people? When will the minister release this information so that Australian consumers can make an informed choice about the type of petrol they put in their cars?

Dr KEMP (Minister for the Environment and Heritage) —We see in that question the extraordinary hypocrisy of the Australian Labor Party which, on the one hand, asks for labelling of ethanol blends so that consumers can be properly informed and, on the other hand, moves in the Senate to delay the passage of the legislation that will make this labelling possible.

Mr Griffin —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. That legislation is currently on the Notice Paper

The SPEAKER —The member for Bruce will resume his seat. There is no point of order. I think the member for Bruce may have thought he had a point of order under anticipation, but I was not certain—he did not indicate that precisely. He is aware that the comments made by the minister would not be outside the anticipation rules. I am listening closely to ensure that the minister does not give details of the legislation.

Dr KEMP —The Labor Party claims in this House to want the Australian public to have accurate information about the ethanol blends that they are purchasing and at the same time in the Senate it is deliberately taking action to delay any introduction of national labelling of ethanol blends. This is an example of the extraordinary hypocrisy that we see from the Labor Party, which since last year has set out to damage and undermine public confidence in the ethanol industry. We have a party which has done an enormous amount of damage to consumer confidence in ethanol and in the impact of ethanol on motor vehicles. Yet it does not want this information to be published for the Australian public.

The SPEAKER —I warn the member for Bruce!

Dr KEMP —The ethanol confidence working group asked the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries to obtain advice from car manufacturers on the suitability of petrol containing up to 10 per cent ethanol for their vehicles. I remind the House that the 10 per cent cap was endorsed by the FCAI on behalf of all Australian manufacturers and importers of automobiles. What we are dealing with at this moment is a matter of consumer information.

I understand the FCAI have produced a list for this working group. Manufacturers who have provided the information have not authorised the release of this list in its current form. It was very much a working document for the committee. I am advised the advice in this document does not align with advice currently in the marketplace and with advice on similar vehicles in other countries. The working group took the view that further discussions with manufacturers were needed. I understand that the working group is also recommending that point-of-sale information on ethanol blends should refer consumers to their manufacturers for advice.

Although there have been many inaccurate comments about this in the media and from the Labor Party in the last 24 hours, there is no label currently before the federal government for decision. Indeed the legislation, as I said, is currently being held up by the Labor Party, and until this legislation is passed there will be no decision on a label to inform consumers. No such decision will be possible, because of the delays that the Labor Party is bringing about. But I can assure the House and the public that I am committed to taking action, as soon as parliament passes the bill, to require labelling of ethanol blends that will provide motorists with the information they need to make a properly informed choice about their fuels. I think the Australian public must be very sick and tired of the hypocrisy that the Labor Party is showing in this matter.

Mr Griffin —If the government will not release it, I seek leave to table the document.

Leave not granted.