On 30 October 2015, the US Department of Agriculture announced $210 million in grants for the expansion of the national biofuels refuelling infrastructure needed to support continued growth in the use of renewable biofuels as a transport fuel in that country.

Grants were provided to a further 1400 service stations operating in 21 States – at an average of US$150,000 per site – under the umbrella of the US Government’s Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) Programme.

Investment in the BIP programme – a cooperative working relationship with the USA’s retail fuel industry – has seen production of biofuels in the USA grow from 1.6 billion gallons in 2000 to more than 14 billion in 2014.

“While the QLD and NSW Government are quick to cite the USA experience of biofuels development as justification for their own policy positions, both governments fail to acknowledge that the USA experience actually worked because the government provided assistance with the funding of necessary infrastructure improvements”, said ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie.

“For some reason, Australia Governments seem to believe that it is fair and reasonable for our industry to fund the considerable market development costs of the biofuels industry via the provision of new fuel storage and dispensing infrastructure”, said Mark.

ACAPMA has consistently stressed that our industry is not opposed to the marketing of biofuel as a transport fuel. We are, however, opposed to the notion that our industry should pay for the development of another industry.

If you look at every biofuels development programme that has been advanced by developed economies in the past 20 years, these programmes have two things in common.

“Every successful biofuels programme to date has involved both a partnership with the conventional fuels industry and the provision of capital assistance for the funding of new fuel infrastructure”, said Mark.

“One could be forgiven for believing that our governments simply aren’t serious about developing biofuels as a genuine fuel in the Australian market given their complete reluctance to provide the capital assistance needed to fund new biofuel storage and refuelling infrastructure”, said Mark.

Meanwhile, past industry investments in LPG refuelling infrastructure in Australia now lay idle as a result of successive Australian and State/Territory governments ignoring the very real benefits of using Autogas as a transport fuel.

“Our industry already has the infrastructure in place to utilise Autogas as a transport fuel (a clean fuel that is both abundant and an indigenous fuel) yet this opportunity is being openly ignored by State Governments in favour of a fuel that delivers less environmental benefit and comes at a significant cost in terms of new infrastructure development”, said Mark.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of all of this is the fact that both the NSW and QLD Government fail to acknowledge the substantial costs imposed on the many small to medium businesses that comprise the retail fuel industry – instead preferring to load up our industry with costs to the point of potentially making these businesses unviable in the future and risking the employment of many in our industry.

“The result is that we argue about the criteria for excluding fuel retail businesses as a result of the need to preserve their commercial viability – an action that actually runs contrary to the Government’s stated aims”, said Mark.

If the Baird and Palaszczuk Government’s were actually serious about biofuels, then they would be supporting our industry with the costs of development of the infrastructure needed to store and sell biofuels – just as is done in the USA, Europe and Brazil.

“And they would be advancing policies and programmes that put equal emphasis on the growth of both biofuels and gaseous fuels like AutoGas”, said Mark.

Any member wishing to seek more information about the legislation, or concerned about key aspects of the proposed legislation, is invited to contact the ACAPMA Secretariat at assist@acapma.com.au or by calling 1300 160 270.