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Costello's ethanol distortions.

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Media Release


11 December 2002


What will it take before the Howard Government acts to protect motorists from damaging levels of ethanol in their cars?

Treasurer Peter Costello’s response today to revelations the government has already received a report warning of the risks of high levels of ethanol was wildly misleading.

On Monday in Parliament Mr Costello said the government wouldn’t act until it received scientific advice yet we now we know the government received a report three weeks ago giving this very advice.

So it’s not surprising that in Question Time Mr Costello gave a highly selective interpretation of the report.

The report, delivered to Environment Australia last month drew clear conclusions on several critical points:

• Vehicle operability may deteriorate with 20 per cent ethanol blends, • Cold start performance and warm-up will deteriorate for some vehicles, • In vehicles that usually run on normal fuel, fuel system deposits are likely to be stripped away on switching to 20 per cent ethanol fuel.

• Perishing and swelling of plastic and other materials in the fuel system is highly likely in older vehicles. • There is potential for corrosion of metal components of the fuel system. • With 20 per cent ethanol, fuel efficiency will fall by 7 per cent.

The Environment Minister, Mr Kemp, tried to distract attention from this damning report by observing that state governments have responsibility for warranty issues. This is red herring. Ethanol is an issue of fuel standards, a federal responsibility.

Mr Costello and Mr Kemp seem intent on ignoring this latest piece of expert advice. Unless they act to set limits on ethanol use, we can only assume they will sit on their hands until the second, final leg of their study is completed in April 2004.

They know the risks, and they refuse to act.

Further information: Robert Garran (02) 6277 4803, 0419 692 504

TELEPHONE: (02) 6277 4803 ã FACSIMILE: (02) 6277 8496