Mackay Sugar boss backs reduction of greenhouse gas emissions
Mackay Sugar boss backs reduction of greenhouse gas emissions Lee Constable

Sugar giant backing new laws to cut greenhouse gases

ONE of the state's biggest sugar producers has backed new laws to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and set a minimum target for ethanol content in fuel during a Queensland parliamentary committee hearing.

But a Central Queensland environmental group has questioned the LNP's motive for the new ethanol legislation which the government says will stimulate more jobs in regional and rural industries.

Mackay Sugar chief Quinton Hildebrand believes the move to diversify and grow Queensland's sugar cane industry through ethanol production will help reduce Australia's reliance on imported petroleum.

Mackay Sugar produces 20% of the Australia's raw sugar. Australia currently imports more than 80% of petroleum.

Mr Hildebrand told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday the move would offer sugar manufacturers a more diversified income, putting the company in a more competitive position internationally.

"Our competitors in Brazil and Thailand have the benefit of producing both sugar and ethanol and all those other products from their cane," he said.

The plan would also create an alternative market for feed stock, aiming to stimulate regional and rural development.

Capricorn Conservation Council co-ordinator Michael McCabe(correct) questioned the government's motive in a written submission to the committee.

"This aim is commendable, though has to be considered in the light of the withdrawal of government support for research and development (CSIRO funding cuts have led to an abandonment of their aviation fuel study in Central Queensland)," he said.

Mr McCabe said encouraging alternative energy sources in regional and rural areas should mean considering more than just ethanol production.

He said ethanol production from sugar cane would increase the use of fertilisers and require more irrigation, placing more pressure on rivers, streams and the water quality of the Great Barrier Reef.

"The Queensland Government should coordinate with the Federal Government to invest in research and development of sustainable energy options rather than simplistically apply an ethanol content rule," he stated.