Ethanol implementation board and discussion paper

Last night the Queensland Liberal National Party, supported by both sides of Parliament, passed a minority proposal for the establishment of an ethanol implementation board and expressed support for an ethanol fuel mandate in Queensland. Christopher Hewitt of Moulis Legal has provided an outline on the impact of this controversial motion.

The ethanol implementation board will consult with stakeholder and consumers to continue to develop a discussion paper previously commenced by the Labour Party. The discussion paper will:

  • canvas preferred levels for a mandated ethanol content;
  • ensure the implementation does not lead to an increase in ethanol imports and supports Queensland regional economies;
  • consider potential impacts on fuel retailers, consumers and any appropriate protections; and
  • determine timeframes for the introduction of mandated ethanol levels.

The discussion paper will be released by the end of May 2015.

What does this mean for fuel in Queensland?

The Labour Government had already commenced preparation of a discussion paper designed to analyse the viability of an ethanol mandate in Queensland. Last night’s motion formally recognises the discussion paper and effectively establishes an ethanol implementation board to report on a proposed ethanol mandate.

Despite the consternation of many industry participants this motion does not make an ethanol mandate in Queensland inevitable, although it does demonstrate the political pressure for an ethanol mandate from each of the parties in Queensland’s new Parliament.

The future outcome of the recommendations of the ethanol implementation board is unclear at this stage, including whether an ethanol mandate will be introduced. Queensland businesses and industry participants must wait to see how the Queensland Government will act after the discussion paper is released.

Short window for business and industry consultation

The discussion paper will be realised at the end of May 2015 and there has been a commitment to consult with industry stakeholders and consumers. The release of the discussion paper in three weeks from today does not allow sufficient time to engage with the various Queensland business and industry participants that will be effected by the introduction of an ethanol mandate. The discussion paper was originally announced on 23 April 2015.

Ethanol mandating has some history in Queensland politics. In 2006 the Queensland Government proposed the introduction of an ethanol mandate of 5% for all unleaded fuel sold in Queensland to be ethanol by December 2010. That mandate was not introduced. In November 2010 the Queensland Government released its submission to the Commonwealth Government’s “Implementation of Alternative Fuels Taxation Policy”discussion paper, which included analysis of the Queensland Government’s views of the taxation policy for ethanol and other alternative fuels and additives. There was some consultation with Queensland industry and consumer groups in the development of its submission to the “Implementation of Alternative Fuels Taxation Policy” discussion paper.

Queensland business and industry participants that are interested in making submissions to the Queensland Government and the ethanol implementation board should act immediately to ensure that their views are heard prior to the release of the discussion paper.

Moulis Legal is available to advise and assist on the submission of views to the Queensland Government on the matters being considered by the ethanol implementation board.

This memo presents an overview and commentary of the subject matter. It is not provided in the context of a solicitor-client relationship and no duty of care is assumed or accepted. It does not constitute legal advice.

© Moulis Legal 2015