Unless you have been hiding under a rock over the past 18 months, you would be aware that the NSW Government has been working on new laws that will require more service stations to sell ethanol-blended petrol and biodiesel.
As noted by numerous media stories over the past 12 months – most of which have gone uncontested by the Baird Government – the economic and environmental benefits from this action are marginal at best.
As noted in a recent report by the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART), the sole beneficiary of the changed laws is likely to be the State’s monopoly ethanol producer – an organisation that has made a number of large political donations to the NSW Liberals, NSW National Party and the NSW Labour Party in recent years.
“In an unusual but welcome move last week, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission released research showing that the operation of the mandate over the past 7 years had cost NSW motorists between $75M and $85M in fuel costs”, said ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie.
Despite taking more than 2 years to finalise the new laws, the NSW Government has this week given the industry just three weeks’ formal notice of the detail of the new regulations which come into force on 1 January 2017.
The new laws mean that any retail site selling more than 3.6ML of petrol and diesel per year must stock and sell biofuels (E10 and biodiesel) from 1 January 2017, unless they are able to secure an exemption under a new framework that is still yet to be released by the NSW Government.
In a letter sent to all fuel retailers on Wednesday 7 December 2016, the NSW Fair Trading Commissioner advised that:
The new laws would take effect from 1 January 2017
All fuel retailers not covered by the old mandate would be given until 1 April 2017 to comply with the new laws or to secure an exemption from being required to sell biofuel.
This whole process has been a very difficult one where the commercial interests of a single company appear to have been favoured by the NSW Government over the wider interests of the NSW community in general, and NSW motorists and fuel retailers in particular said Mark.
“While the Government has made some concessions for very small retailers and accommodated many of the issues raised by the very large retailers, it seems that the small/medium fuel independently owned businesses have been thrown to the wolves”, said Mark.
In addition, there remains significant uncertainty about the exact interpretation of some detailed aspects of the legislation.
We fully expect that these new laws will result in lower availability of non-ethanol blended fuels for motorists and a continuation of unnecessary cost for all NSW Motorists, said Mark.
As noted in the 2015 Report prepared for the NSW Government on the options for the mandate, these new laws will not result in the achievement of the Government’s 6% ethanol target, will result in higher costs for motorists and will not benefit anybody other than the State’s monopoly biofuels producer.
“In effect, the NSW Government has engineered a monopoly position for a major political donor at substantial risk to NSW fuel consumers without any significant pricing safeguards, said Mark.
“Members can rest assured that ACAPMA is currently working on a ground campaign against these new laws that will commence early in the new year and continue all the way to the next NSW election”, said Mark.