Independents are seeking to pressure the government to improve Australia’s fuel standards immediately, with a bill to be presented to parliament on Monday to phase out the nation’s low quality petrol within two years.
North Sydney MP Kylea Tink will present a private member’s bill, seconded by Curtin independent Kate Chaney, that would require the existing fleet of passenger vehicles to meet European fuel standards by 2025.
The bill, seen by The Australian, would compel new light vehicles to meet “Euro 6d” pollution standards, and would come into effect immediately for diesel, and in July 2024 for petrol.
Ms Tink said increasing fuel emissions standards had been an election promise and the first issue she raised with Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen upon coming to parliament, given North Sydney was home to one of the nation’s most polluted stretches of road.
She told the Australian she had been “really aware” of the dangers of noxious fumes produced by petrol for most of her life, after her father’s service station exploded when she was young.
“People were lying Lino tiles in the front of the service station and something shorted, it blew up and one guy was hurt particularly badly,” she said.
“It made me really aware of the dangers of noxious fumes from petrol sources.”
Ms Tink also pointed to health concerns regarding low petrol quality, with figures from 2015 showing 620 Australians died because of transport-related air pollution.
“It is estimated there are currently over 20 million motor vehicles in Australia that are powered by internal combustion engines,” she said.
“These engines are running on some of dirtiest petrol in the world. The noxious emissions from these vehicles are leading to poorer health outcomes … not just for my community but right across our country, and increased emissions in our atmosphere.”
It comes as Labor signalled it would look to reform fuel quality standards, launching a consultation paper this month seeking views from the community and transport sector on bringing Australia’s standards in line with other countries.
Ms Tink said she welcomed Mr Bowen’s move to open up a consultation paper, but that immediate action was required.
“This should have been done a decade ago,” she said. “I’m moving this private members bill to put on the pressure. This would put money immediately back into people’s pockets … because petrol of a higher standard lasts longer in your vehicle, so you will cover more miles on a litre.”
The Productivity Commission in 2016 found that moving to higher standards would save Australians $500 a year.
The Coalition invested $2bn into the country’s largest oil refineries ahead of the election, with more than $300m of this provided to upgrade facilities to produce better quality fuel as needed.
Mr Bowen said last week it was “important that our fuel efficiency standards are best practice and our fuel quality standards are best practice”.
However, he said he wanted to ensure people “had their say” in Labor’s consultation process.
While the bill hasn’t gone to Greens’ Party room, leader Adam Bandt said Australia was at risk of becoming a “dumping ground” for old petrol cars without further standards on fuel quality and efficiency.
Shadow Climate Change Minister Ted O’Brien said while the Coalition awaited further detail of the bill, its basic principle was “to oppose policy settings which add stress to already stretched household budgets”, and raised concern that changes to fuel standards would impact Australians’ hip pockets.
Extracted in full form: Kylea Tink bill takes aim at low-quality petrol (theaustralian.com.au)