The Member for Mount Isa, Robbie Katter, is willing to work with the Queensland Government to make the production of ethanol in Queensland a reality.
He says ethanol would provide cheaper, cleaner fuel for Australia, save billions of dollars a year going overseas, and create thousands of jobs in rural Australia.
“We have a company here in Queensland, Austcane Energy, that has spent the last five years planning and developing Australia’s first sugar cane to ethanol distillery in the Burdekin region.
“The plant, at a cost of $240 million to be privately funded, is now ready for construction, and is designed to produce 100 million litres of fuel grade ethanol and 45,000 MW hours of co-generation electricity.
“However, because of the Queensland Government’s lack of policy on domestically produced renewable fuels and the apathy shown by the major fuel companies towards biofuel, Austcane energy has made the decision to put its ethanol project on hold.
Young sugar cane suitable for conversion to ethanol
“It can’t progress, and now we’ve lost out on 600 jobs that it would have created in Queensland, as well as $100 million in economic activity every year.”
Austcane and Katter’s Australia Party have asked the Queensland Government to introduce Queensland legislation similar to NSW legislation, requiring the oil companies to institute a program of biofuel distribution, compelling fuel distributors to include 10% of ethanol into fuel.
“Every developed country in the world, apart from the Middle East (for obvious reasons) and Australia, has moved to ethanol because it lowers emissions and provides significant health benefits.
“Here we have the chance to produce it in Queensland, and the Government can’t stir itself to create legislation to encourage it,” Mr Katter said.
He said he looked forward to Government support of the Katter’s Australia Party Liquid Fuel Supply (Ethanol) Amendment Bill when it comes before the House on 3 October 2014.
“This is something we promised our supporters we’d get into Parliament.”
As well as creating a cleaner, cheaper fuel for Australia, ethanol would rescue the sugar industry in Queensland, Mr Katter said.
“Sugar is still the biggest employer in Queensland; it’s still bigger than coal, but it’s closing down.
“We’re closing six sugar mills every 10 years. In another 20-odd years there’ll be none left at all.
“Sugar cane-produced ethanol will give this industry a huge boost, and create regional jobs.”