Nationals anxious over ethanol excise

Nationals’ leader Mark Vaile was under pressure to promise that the Coalition would force oil companies to sell petrol blended with ethanol, reported The Age (3/8/2007, p. 8).

State governments promise action: Influential Nationals were concerned that Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd would gazump them in sugar seats along the Queensland coast by promising that a Labor government would mandate the use of renewable fuels. Two premiers, Queensland’s Peter Beattie and Morris Iemma from NSW, have already announced mandates on the use of ethanol in petrol. Vaile also faced pressure from within his party to ensure that Australian ethanol was not hit with an excise and was protected from international competition by a tariff on imports. The council would debate a motion from the NSW, South Australian and Queensland branches calling for some of these measures.

Public wary: The dominant producer in the industry, the Manildra Group, was a major sponsor of this weekend’s federal council, and was both a vociferous lobbyist and generous donor to both sides of politics. The idea of an ethanol mandate has been opposed by Treasurer Peter Costello and other senior ministers. Consumers also remained wary of ethanol.

The Age, 3/8/2007, p. 8

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