Some whispers came my way a while ago:
When Saab Australia brought a Biopower vehicle to an environment conference in Sydney a month ago, they received a phone call from a non-disclosed (to me) government official. The caller’s department ‘threatened’ that any Biopower cars brought into Australia for field testing and evaluation would have their registration restricted to they could only be driven on public roads by GM employees.
No press evaluation and no government evaluation = going nowhere. That ‘threat’ was rather quickly removed by said not-disclosed official after being reminded how rediculous such a move would look on the front page of the papers.
That’s just one example of how our current government thinks on the evolution of alternative fuels.
Australian Treasurer Peter Costello says that we must reduce our reliance on foreign oil:
“I think we’ve got to reduce our (oil) reliance but that’s going to take a long time…”
Australian Treasurer Peter Costello expands on his thoughts about using oil:
“What we’ve go to do is encourage the supply countries to lift supply, have more investment because when you get a big country like China sucking up oil production, then that means it affects the whole world price.”
These two quotes are from the same article, from an interview Mr Costello did on Macquarie Radio this morning.
We have to reduce our oil reliance but it’s going to take a long time, so in the meantime let’s ramp up production and make it cheaper.
Makes perfect sense.
Mr Costello might like to take a look at the Swedish initiative with Biofuels and consider further the thoughts of Saab UK Jonathan Nash and his calls for some real leadership from Tony Blair on the issue.
Then again, leadership’s not Mr Costello’s strong suit. Just ask his boss.
A fuller version of the article above has now been published.
In this version, while Mr Costello is doing his sleight of hand routine, the Australian Trade Minister, Mr Mark Vaile, is in Vietnam promoting ethanol as an alternative to regular fossil fuels.
It’s a bit of a joke really. On one hand, the Trade Minister is talking up ethanol, yet he’s also saying that they won’t mandate it or use legislation to get encourage people to use it. Basically, they’ve permitted it – and that’s it.
And get this. I think he expects a pat on the back too…..
Mr Vaile has said member countries’ energy ministers will meet in Darwin in May 2007 to discuss biofuels. The next APEC summit will be held later that year in Sydney.
Commonwealth cars ferrying around APEC leaders during their Australian stay will all use ethanol-blended fuel whenever available, he has said.
We’ll actually ferry APEC leaders around for an entire 3 or 4 days in cars running on fuel that’s 10% ethanol (where available).
Mr Vaile – you’re a friggin hero!!
Seriously, no-one really wants a legislative stick saying “you must use ethanol”. What the government could do – to help make our envirofootprint smaller, to help a fledgling ethanol industry as well as an ageing and struggling sugarcane industry – is provide incentives for doing the right thing.