Biofuel future rests on federal MPs: Bruce Saunders
MARYBOROUGH MP Bruce Saunders has issued an impassioned plea to federal members to assist with water security in the Maryborough electorate, as part of a plan to introduce a biofuel hub to the region.
As part of that plan, Mr Saunders said funding for offstream storage or a pipeline to supply water to cane farmers would be the ideal solution, which would allow co-generation from the mill and the further creation of bio-products, like mandated fuel and bio-plastics.
But the key, he said, is getting water.
"We've got to get over 1.1 million tonnes of cane to start the co-generation of electricity. We'll be able to move away from petroleum-based products into biofuels,” Mr Saunders said.
"If we don't get the water, we won't get the biofuels. It's crucial the federal government come to party with it and help us finance it.”
Mr Saunders said biofuels would be "the future of the Fraser Coast.”
"It's the future for our region - MSF Sugar will be upgrading plans and hiring if it goes ahead. We need to get behind it and make sure the industry gets off the ground,” he said.
"Ships run on biofuels will fill up at Gladstone, and we're in an ideal situation to supply navy boats filling up on the Queensland coast.
"It's a win-win situation for Maryborough, with jobs and an environmentally-sustainable product we're turning out.”
But federal member for Hinkler Keith Pitt was mostly indifferent, stating water was a state government responsibility.
"The Federal Government already has $350 million on the table for water infrastructure. The Queensland Government won't take it. And, they have two neighbouring Labor MPs who don't agree on a pipeline plan in the first place,” he said.
The plan refers to a proposal from Mr Saunders to construct a pipeline from Paradise Dam to supply Maryborough irrigators, which was criticised by Bundaberg MP Leanne Donaldson.
Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien said support for water infrastructure was available through the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.
"The Federal Coalition Government is serious about assisting the Queensland Government to start building water infrastructure projects, so long as the State Government is prepared to bring applications forward and commit matching funding,” he said.
"I've had a number of conversations with Maryborough Sugar and local Canegrowers about the need for greater water security in the region.
"They know from our meetings that I totally support them and I will advocate on their behalf to secure the support they need, but the State must bring a detailed regional plan forward so all stakeholders can evaluate it and judge whether it is actually feasible.”
Plans for a biofuel or ethanol plant were first floated in 2012 by Thai company Mitr Phol during their buy-out of MSF Sugar.
Last week, the Fraser Coast region was drought-declared by Minister for Agriculture Bill Byrne.