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Transcript
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP

Interview
ABC - Queensland Country Hour
Friday, 11 April 2003

Subject: Announcement of 10% Ethanol Cap


Journalist:
To some breaking news now, which was announced just a short time ago in Brisbane at a press conference by Federal Environment Minister Doctor David Kemp, and he joins us on the line now.

Good afternoon, Doctor Kemp.

Dr Kemp:
Good afternoon, Robyn.

Journalist:
It's Theresa, Doctor Kemp. You've just had an announcement on ethanol. What was that announcement?

Dr Kemp:
The announcement is that the commonwealth will be moving to set a 10 per cent cap on ethanol blends in petrol. I'm releasing today a report of testing which shows that the 20 per cent blends that have been available in some states can cause significant deterioration of parts in older automobiles.

The Commonwealth Government has decided that we simply must act on the basis of this report, and the Commonwealth Government will be moving immediately to set a 10 per cent cap.

We'll also be moving to amend our Fuel Quality Standards Act to legislate compulsory labelling for ethanol blends in petrol. I believe that these two measures are really very good news for motorists and for the ethanol industry, because they will assure people that the government and automobile manufacturers believe that the ethanol blends that will be available after these decisions have been implemented are totally safe for automobile users.

And that will give confidence to consumers, it will give confidence in the marketplace and confidence, I hope, to the industry involved.

Journalist:
Doctor Kemp, then, what about the compulsory or the mandate use of ethanol in petrol blends, is there any movement on that?

Dr Kemp:
No, there's no decision at all in relation to the mandated use of ethanol. Today's decision relates to the capping of the maximum amount of ethanol that is to be used in petrol blends, and to implement compulsory labelling so that consumers are properly informed at the petrol pump about the petrol that they're buying.

Ethanol is a very good renewable energy source. This has to be said. It's a source which does have some air quality benefits. It reduces the toxics in air and it improves the capacity of the automobile fleet to contribute in a limited way, but an important way to our environmental quality.

Journalist:
All right. So that's establishing a compulsory labelling of ethanol. But really there isn't a lot of ethanol or ethanol petrol blends available in Australia at the moment, is there? And the industry says that they... that the mandate or the compulsory use of ethanol in our petrol is required to push the industry forward.

Dr Kemp:
Well this is announced principally as a matter to reassure the consuming public that ethanol blends that they're purchasing at the pump are safe and warranted by automobile manufacturers.

There are 20 per cent ethanol blends available in some states. They haven't been available so far as I know in Queensland. These blends don't seem to cause a problem for newer vehicles, but testing on those won't be complete until the middle of next year.

It's clear that 20 per cent blends do cause significant problems in older vehicles, and they cause problems for two stroke motors. And, of course, ethanol blends shouldn't be used in aircraft.

But it is very important that the consuming public be properly informed about the ethanol blend that they're buying, because we want to see this industry having the confidence of the public. That's the first foundation that needs to be laid to give assurance to the ethanol producing industry that there is a market out there for their product.

Over the last few months we've seen considerable consumer uncertainty. It's important that this uncertainty be properly dealt with. And we now have the scientific basis for doing that from the testing program that the commonwealth has had underway.

Journalist:
Minister, in terms of incentives and excise relief, any decision made on that yet, or can you foreshadow any decision on those?

Dr Kemp:
Well the government will announce its long-term arrangements for supporting ethanol and other biofuels in the budget. It's appropriate that those decisions be announced in the budget, and then the public will see the full package that the government is proposing in relation to ethanol.

Journalist:
Any indication, or can you give us any hints about which direction that might take? We've had industry pushing for even a 2 per cent compulsory blend to push again the industry along. Can you give us any clues there?

Dr Kemp:
No, I'm afraid I can't do that today. I won't pre-empt the budget.

Journalist:
All right. You... let's just recap then. You've made an announcement today that will see compulsory labelling of all ethanol petrol blends sold in Australia?

Dr Kemp:
That's right.

Journalist:
All right. Well look, we'll leave it there.

Dr Kemp:
Thanks very much, Theresa.

Journalist:
We'll leave it there, thanks very much for your time, Doctor Kemp.

Dr Kemp:
Good. Bye bye.

Journalist:
Doctor... that was the Environment Minister Doctor David Kemp, who's just announced a short time ago at a press conference in Brisbane that all label... that compulsory labelling will now be required for all ethanol sales in Australia.

But still no movement yet on the mandate reuse or the compulsory use of ethanol in Australia, something which the industry has been calling for.

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Commonwealth of Australia