THE closure of one of Australia’s only biofuel refineries has sent shockwaves through the Western Downs, with many families losing their source of income and business fearing the potential hits to the economy.

United’s Dalby Bio-Refinery announced that it will suspend operation ‘indefinitely’ earlier this year, leading to a loss of around 100 direct and indirect jobs, and the incomes of around 42 families.

Katter’s Australian Party believes subsidies for multinational oil refineries will help keep the biofuel industry afloat.

KAP Leader and Member for Traeger Robbie Katter, and KAP Candidate for Warrego Rick Gurnett fronted media outside the ethanol plant to call for the government to urgently include local fuel production from sugar and grain in Australia’s new fuel security strategy.

This week, the Federal Government announced plans to invest in new domestic diesel storage facilities, create a minimum onshore fuel stockholding and a $1.15 per litre refinery subsidy

to keep the nation’s refining facilities afloat.

However, ethanol fuel, which can be produced from scratch in Australia and does not rely on

imports, was ignored entirely.

Mr Katter said not extending the subsidy to the country’s ethanol production missed a major

opportunity to secure thousands of local jobs, complement the state’s sugar and grain industries, and provide motorists with cleaner fuel.

He said it was ‘astonishing’ that the government was supporting multinational giants over local producers.

“The Federal Government has announced that they’re subsiding fuel in Australia to enhance fuel security – this is great news,” he said.

“But we’re standing here at the Dalby ethanol plant because this is the thing that needs to be

assisted; if we want to grow our own fuel in Australia, you need to assist and apply that subsidy there.

“Why in the hell we are supporting these large multinational oil companies when we could be

supporting our farmers to grow our own fuel is beyond me.”

Mr Gurnett said the closure of the Dalby Bio-Refinery was a huge hit to the community, and urged the government to shift its frame of thinking to support and enhance local economies.

“The Federal Government has got to start thinking inward and not outward; we can produce fuel here and keep the money in the country, not be sending it overseas, and that makes all the difference to our economy,” he said.

Ethanol is promoted as one of the most inexpensive and effective ways to cut emissions and create cleaner fuel, water and air.

According to the KAP, key benefits include:

  • Ethanol is made with leftover starches and sugars from wheat, sugar cane and other ag

waste

  • One ethanol plant can create $85m in annual revenue and 100 megalitres of ethanol
  • Two family cars driving an average 26,200km/year will save $433 by using E10 fuel
  • Australia imports 90% of its oil, but ethanol could reduce oil that by 18 per cent
  • E10 fuel can cut total greenhouse gas emissions by 8.9M tonnes of carbon dioxide

equivalent per year and cut vehicle exhaust particulate emissions by 26%


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