Fuel testing program
The testing of fuels under the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000 (the Act) is undertaken across all areas of the national fuel supply chain. Samples may be taken from importers, refineries, distributors and service station forecourts.
The testing program is structured to ensure a broad range of sites and locations are sampled including from fuel suppliers who have been the subject of a consumer complaint.
Trained personnel appointed as inspectors may visit a fuel supplier at any time, on any day (including weekends) to undertake fuel testing and sampling, view fuel delivery documentation, inspect ethanol labels and check any other requirements of the Act.
What to expect during a site visit
- The safety of inspectors, service station staff, members of the public and others on site is paramount when conducting fuel sampling activities.
- Upon entry to a site, authorised fuel inspectors will show their Fuel Quality Inspector identity cards and ask to speak with the manager or the person in charge (occupier) at that time.
- The inspectors will provide the occupier with an Occupier's Information Sheet and request a consent notice to be completed.
- If consent is refused, a warrant may be obtained from a Magistrate to enter and take samples without consent.
- Once consent has been granted, the inspectors will explain the process for undertaking the site visit.
- A site visit may include testing of the fuels available for sale, inspection of fuel quality information on your fuel pumps and an inspection of fuel delivery documentation.
- Inspectors may also take samples for laboratory testing. The sampling process involves taking a 10 litre flush of the fuel to ensure that the sample is representative of the tank. The flush will then be returned to the tanks and the occupier will be provided with a receipt for this action.
- The inspectors will then pour three 2 litre samples of the fuel. Of the three samples, the occupier will be asked to choose one to keep at the service station for their own testing if they wish to do so. One of the samples will be sent to the laboratory for testing and the other will be kept by the department in secure storage in case further testing is needed.
- Any fuels taken off site for testing at a National Association of Testing Authorities laboratory, will be paid for.
- On completion of the site visit, the inspectors will sign off from the site. The occupier will be advised of the outcome of the site visit in writing within 20 days from a site visit.
Powers of inspectors under the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000
The Act sets out the powers that an inspector may exercise upon entering premises for the purposes of the Act either with consent of the occupier, or under a monitoring or offence-related warrant. If an occupier does not consent to entry by an inspector, an inspector may only enter premises for sampling and the collection of other evidence under either a monitoring or an offence-related warrant.
Under section 40(1) of the Act, an inspector may, for the purpose of finding out whether the Act has been complied with or of assessing the correctness of information provided under the Act:
- enter any premises (either with the occupier’s consent or with a warrant) and exercise their monitoring powers set out in section 41; or
- enter the public area of business premises when the premises are open to the public to exercise the powers set out in section 41A.
Subsection 41(1) of the Act allows inspectors to exercise certain powers for the purpose of monitoring compliance with the Act. These powers may be exercised with the consent of the occupier of the premises or under a monitoring warrant. The powers include the authority for an inspector to sample fuel. They also enable an inspector to:
- search the premises and any thing on the premises;
- inspect, examine, take measurements of, conduct tests on, and take samples of, any fuel or fuel additive on the premises;
- take photographs, make video or audio recordings or make sketches of the premises or any thing on the premises;
- inspect any book, record or document on the premises;
- take extracts from or make copies of any such book, record or document;
- take onto the premises such equipment and materials as the inspector requires for the purpose of exercising powers in relation to the premises;
- secure a thing, until an offence-related warrant is obtained to seize it:
- that the inspector finds during the exercise of monitoring powers on the premises; and
- that the inspector believes on reasonable grounds is evidential material; and
- that the inspector believes on reasonable grounds would be lost, destroyed or tampered with before the warrant can be obtained.
Use of electronic equipment
An inspector has the power to operate equipment at premises to find out whether the equipment or a tape, disk or other storage device at the premises contains information that is relevant to determining whether there has been compliance with the Act or assessing the correctness of information provided under the Act (subsection 41(2)).
Occupier to provide inspector with all facilities and assistance
Under section 53 of the Act, the occupier of premises in relation to which a warrant is being exercised, or another person who apparently represents the occupier, must provide the inspector executing the warrant and any person assisting that inspector with all reasonable facilities and assistance for the effective exercise of their powers.
New E85 fuel quality and fuel quality information standards
A fuel quality standard and a fuel quality information (labelling) standard have been made for E85 automotive fuel. The new E85 standards commence on 1 November 2012.