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Wednesday, 8 November 2000
Page: 19386

Senator HILL (Minister for the Environment and Heritage) (12:42 PM) —I thank senators for their contributions to this important debate on the Fuel Quality Standards Bill 2000. This legislation is historic. It will contribute to Australia being brought up to world's best standard in terms of pollution from motor vehicles and also in terms of greenhouse gas outcomes. The legislation does so by bringing in a two-part reform: one part is the requirement for new emission standards in Australia for motor vehicles; and this, the second part, is a complementary requirement for new matching fuel quality standards. The result will, as I said, be world's best standard in terms of polluting emissions and also in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

It is important that we constantly address the issue of air quality, particularly in our major cities. Research that the government has received in the past has been that generally our air quality is of a reasonable standard. But, in some of our major cities, on some days, it is of an unsatisfactory standard and in fact equivalent to some of those cities around the world that are more commonly regarded as polluting. That is an unsatisfactory outcome, and I think that it reflects the fact that Australia's standards in this area have fallen behind. That is an indictment upon, in particular, the former Labor government in this country—in office for 13 years, during which time it failed to address this very important issue. In other words, the number of vehicles increased dramatically, but the government required neither best standards in relation to emission equipment attached to vehicles nor matching fuel quality.

This government, as in so many other areas, is seeking to respond positively and to introduce these reforms—difficult though they have been in many ways—to give the Australian people better air quality and contribute to reduced greenhouse emissions. I thank all senators who have contributed to the debate and wish the bill a speedy passage through the parliament.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.