“In the last two years the trade deficit in fuel went from 13% of Australia’s total deficit to 26% in 2005 and is currently running at 55.6% of our total trade deficit,” Senator Boswell, Leader of the Nationals in the Senate, said tonight.
Delivering the welcoming address to over 400 delegates at the Ethanol 2006 conference in Brisbane, Senator Boswell said he was concerned at Australia’s increasing fuel trade deficit, which by the end of the year will be almost $10 billion dollars.
“Figures from ABARE and the ABS reflect this alarming trend. A major contributor to this is the continuing decline in production of Australian oil from 31 billion litres in 2001, to just over 18 billion litres last year,” Senator Boswell said.
“We are spending billions of dollars importing oil from overseas, when we should be replacing a much greater percentage of it with home grown biofuels. “Until Caltex and Shell, who operate the refineries and control distribution in the major markets of Sydney and Melbourne, get serious about biofuels; they will continue to be a niche market rather than a mainstream fuel”, Senator Boswell said.
Senator Boswell called upon the State Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria to take the same approach as Queensland and the Federal Government in embracing biofuels. “State Premiers should insist upon fleet fuel contracts being dependent on significant biofuels availability and provide real financial incentives for retailers to offer the option of cleaner, greener fuel.
“The Queensland Government deserves credit for its relentless approach to promoting ethanol at the retail level including the assistance package they are providing to retail outlets to convert leaded fuel holding tanks to e10,” Senator Boswell said.
“The reality is that there is more that could and should be done, by all levels of government. “The oil companies have committed to a best effort volume of 532ml of biofuel by 2010 and the Federal Government’s biofuel target should be redefined to acknowledge this and encourage this higher standard.
“Time is of utmost importance to quickly develop a stronger biofuel industry with the World in the grip of record high fuel prices and political instability in the Middle East increasing,” he said.
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