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Tuesday, 16 November 1993
Page: 2958

(Question No. 637)

Senator Bell asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories, upon notice, on 5 October 1993:

  (1) Under what criteria, with what funding, and against what evaluation standards is the Federal Government's program to test Diesohol in buses in the Australian Capital Territory being undertaken.

  (2) Did a local service station in Hobart recently begin a trial supplying an ethanol/unleaded petrol mix to customers with pre-1986 cars; if so, what research has been undertaken in regard to, and level of satisfaction with, the performance of their vehicles; if not, will the proprietor be contacted about the success of the trial.

  (3) What Federal Government funding opportunities are available to provide one storage tank, one petrol bowser and a supply of ethanol to a service station in Hobart for a period of one year in order to complete the trial.

  (4) What limits or impediments exist to exempting ethanol from excise tax when it is to be used as motor vehicle fuel.

Senator Schacht —The Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

  (1) The technical trial of the fuel Diesohol in the Australian Capital Territory's Internal Omnibus Network (ACTION) is being funded under the Commonwealth's Climate Change Program because Diesohol has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Diesohol represents a new development in fuel blends containing ethanol, a renewable fuel. The trial is being evaluated by the peer reviewers for the trial, Society of Automotive Engineers and DASFleet.

  (2) Yes. However, the Commonwealth Government is not involved in the trial and is not funding research into customer reaction. My Department has been in contact with the Skyline Service Station in Hobart, where the trial was held, and they reported a high level of customer satisfaction.

  (3) The Commonwealth Government currently has no specific plans to fund the Hobart trial. As part of the Government's Budget initiatives on reducing lead in petrol, funds are to be provided ($1.69 million in 1993-94 and $2.25 million in 1994-95) for development of ethanol as a fuel, with part of this funding to be directed to field trials of the use of ethanol blends in vehicles.

  (4) None. The Commonwealth currently assesses ethanol used as motor vehicle fuel as excise exempt. This is in keeping with the Government's 1992 commitment to a five-year guarantee of the excise-free status of alternative transport fuels, with at least one-year's notification of any intention to change that status.