Energy Minister Mark Bailey visited Bundaberg today to host a public forum on the Palaszczuk Government’s plan for an ethanol mandate, but attendance was less than impressive.

According to sugarcane farmer Clinton Scott, a total of five people turned up to the event that was catered for 30 or more.

“It was very poorly organised. I was the only farmer in the room along with about four other people,” he said.

“I called a couple of farmers afterwards who either told me they knew nothing about it or only saw one ad on TV. It made me think whether that’s what they wanted all along, for no one to show up.”

The forum was part of a state-wide plan to make sugarcane growers part of the sustainable energy solution while creating more jobs for the region, with the purpose of working directly with growers.

Before the meeting began, Mr Bailey spoke with the NewsMail about the benefits of the ethanol mandate.

“We think this is going to be a great opportunity for Queensland jobs and Queensland employment,” he said.

“We want to expand the market for ethanol and biofuels throughout Queensland, so that’s good news for growers and it’s also good news for the Queensland economy.”

A joint Deloitte Access Economics/QUT study predicted bio-refining could contribute more than $1.8 billion in gross state product to Queensland and create up to 6, 640 jobs during the next 20 years.

“What it would mean is 2% of all fuel in Queensland must be ethanol based, which gives a guarantee market for producers to expand and to meet that need,” Mr Bailey said.

“We will then look at it through the productivity commission to see if we can increase that percentage.”

Member for Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson said the ethanol mandate would bring more income into the region.

“I’m really passionate about getting jobs here in Bundaberg and I think one of the keys to doing that is to engage our existing stakeholders and businesses and our sugar growers are an absolutely vital part of our community here,” she said.

“I have spoken to a few growers and the overwhelming response is positive. They see that this is another market that they can tap into. I think they are quite excited about the opportunities in front of them.”

However, the response was underwhelming.”I thought the concept was quite good but I don’t see any advantage for growers in Bundaberg when it comes to the ethanol side of things. It just won’t work here,” Mr Scott said.

“The biodiesel side of it might bring on better opportunity for us.”

Mr Bailey said implementing the mandate is a process that will include consultation with industry and stakeholders from across the state with forums in Innisfail, Ingham Mareeba, Mackay and Brisbane to be conducted in the future.

“What we want to do is grow jobs sustainably in Queensland to ensure that the economy benefits. We don’t want cheap imports coming in which is why we are not starting on a large mandate because there is only a limited capacity at the moment in the industry,” he said.

“We want to work with the industry, with stakeholders, with the growers to get this right.”

A Bill mandating ethanol content in E10 labelled fuel will be introduced to Parliament later this year, a first for Queensland.

Extracted in full from Bundaberg News Mail.