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Back Flip On Ethanol

A huge back flip has been announced by the NSW Government on the ethanol issue. Both Government and Opposition supported the withdrawl of 91 octane unleaded from the garage forecourts in favour of 10 percent ethanol by 1st July 2012. When this was announced and made law in 2009 there was an outcry from motorists, petrol retailers and refineries alike.

Private Fleet discussed the pros and cons at length here and our readers responded here. It was clearly not a popular decision as many motorists would be forced to pay for premium fuel and virtually every NSW motorist would, arguably, face higher fuel bills as the slightly lower ethanol pump price did not compensate for the poorer fuel economy.

Clearly someone was listening as the O’Farrell government announced on 20th January that the cabinet has agreed to dump the ban on 91 unleaded!

So NSW motorists will be pleased, as will interstate drivers who would be faced with having to put 10 percent ethanol fuel or 95 octane premium brew in their tanks when they venture into NSW.

Do you think it’s a great example of the government listening to the people, or do you think they should have gone ahead anyway?

Have you say below.


  1. Greg says:

    I think it is a great example of incompetence. Governments need to make good decisions for the right reasons and follow through even if they are unpopular. The problem was that the original decision was made for the wrong reasons and it was a bad decision anyway. Lose lose lose.

    February 7th, 2012 at 10:18 am

  2. LR WALTON says:

    I think this is a furfy. I move to Australia from Colorado in the US some 15 years ago and all petrol there was 10% Ethanol due to air pollution standards along the front range of the Rocky Mountains. Could not get pure petrol anywhere in the state. There was a minor drop in Octane ratings and we got a range to 85 to 98 Octane depending on the fuel grade. More importantly, prices at the pump did not change any more than any other place in the US (excise taxes notwithstanding!). I use the 10% grade here in Victoria because its cheaper than pure petrol and my Mini runs fine. I am absolutely not a Greenie, but if it improves air quality, then it is probably a good thing as reduces CO2. The whole Carbon Debate is another issue and that is only a way for a silly Labour Government to get back in surplus.. not environmentally focused……

    February 7th, 2012 at 10:42 am

  3. Graham Chapman says:

    United sells E10 95 octane which gives better performance than standard 91ULP

    February 7th, 2012 at 10:45 am

  4. Etica says:

    Ethanol will damage some engines and fuel systems, and my handbook forbids it for my motorcycle.
    It’s sad that Governments would even consider mandating fuel which damages engines.

    February 7th, 2012 at 10:58 am

  5. Rob Golley says:

    The government should not have been so narrow minded in the first place to have even contemplated withdrawing 91 Octane.
    Just think of the wasted time, effort and money that has gone into overturning such a poor decision in the first place that should never have seen the day of light. Typical of a the mentality of those decision makers that we seem to be stuck with.
    Fortunately something must have worked or some one with a half decent amount of commonsense was listening to the people.
    However what a waste of time and resources as well as cash!

    February 7th, 2012 at 11:08 am

  6. Michael Nixon says:

    That is great news. I monitor my fuel consumption carefully in one vehicle that can take E10. Fuel consumption is at least 5% higher on E10 than on unleaded 91, while the price per litre is only about 2.5% lower. Therefore, I have continued to use unleaded 91. Yesterday I went in to fill my other vehicle (can’t take E10) at the Caltex/Woolworths in Queanbeyan. They have just removed standard unleaded 91 from their pumps, blaming the NSW govt! I had to fill with unleaded 95 at 162.9 cents/litre – what a rip-off!

    February 7th, 2012 at 11:14 am

  7. Andrea says:

    It is a shame that most of us ARE RESPONSIBLE for voting in the so called decision makers. Just think what would happen if all of the small businesses in Australia shut their doors for a day, we are just the minority nowdays.

    No sensible person with good business ethics and knowledge is ever going to sit for parliament, would you??

    February 7th, 2012 at 11:37 am

  8. Lyn Martin says:

    Foolish to think that this is a victory for motorists when there is sitll a 6% ethanol mandate that could have the same effect as banning unleaded. Even the Greens have recognised that forcing ethanol onto the motoring public. To quote John Kaye (NSW Greens):
    “There is a remarkable absence of credible scientific evidence to support the greenhouse gas emissions reductions claimed for E10.” (
    The bottom line is that threre is no case for subsidising ethanol either directly or indirectly (through mandates that force the sale of ethanol) in the pursuit of environmental, job-creation or fuel self-sufficiency objectives. The only objective satisfied is to look after Dick Honan of Manildra, a significant donor to both political parties.

    February 7th, 2012 at 11:51 am

  9. John Romer says:

    If this silly law came to pass that would mean 95% of older vehicles would be off the road, and 100% of Vintage/veteran, and Post vintage may as well go to the tip along with our history. There are many old farts like myself that has resurrected a heap of rubbish from the tip and remade it into original tin, which means many of our lives work disapears forever, all due to an incompetant government that can’t see past the nose on their faces and have no idea of the real world.

    February 7th, 2012 at 11:55 am

  10. Lee says:

    We need to remember it was a stupid decision by a LABOR state government (for which I absolve myself of any responsibility), but at least it has been fixed. Thank goodness for at least a tiny bit of common sense!
    And it is a shame that many voters often can’t see past their welfare entitlements. Not enough taxpayers & too many handouts! Ethics & brains does not necessarily seem to be a precursor to a career in politics (look at some of our federal M.P’s). If they say the right thing at the right time the masses get sucked in every time then we all pay for it!

    February 7th, 2012 at 12:09 pm

  11. Errol Morris says:

    The only reason for the ‘about-face’ is that the government has forbidden the use of ethanol fuel in any government fleets. This has nothing to do with public opinion. The government’s own people made the decision some time ago, but the media is giving credit to the public, as is the government, to hide the fact that they (the government), made a poor call in the first place.
    As for ‘backflips’, this actually means that one is still facing the same direction and is actually what this government does best…nothing.

    February 7th, 2012 at 12:23 pm

  12. Walter says:

    I do believe that lead in petrol is/was a major contributor to air pollution and that lead in the air we breathe has major health implications, not the least being a measurable lowering of IQ. I would suggest that the people promoting more use of leaded petrol be a bit more concerned for the health of the children of the country as it is obviously too late for us older folk as evidenced by some of the comments printed here.

    February 7th, 2012 at 3:37 pm

  13. Suzanne Riley says:

    Australian’s are an apathetic bunch when it comes to politics. We think we don’t have a voice. At least the issue brought debate. If you are only be worried about your current engine – well get a life. Carbon tax is here to stay. Change is expected and desired. Think of the innovations and inventions to come. But keep in mind all the energy alternates that have threatened the fuel industry and been duly annihilated. So, what if Government takes a tough stand – think again why?!

    February 7th, 2012 at 3:37 pm

  14. dave mackenzie says:

    Fantastic news, I have been kkeping a close watch on fuel consumption in my 2003 magna. using E10, my fuel consumption increased nearly 40%. i have written to a number of motoring editors and spoken to numerous mechanics. the engine would also run rough at idle.

    i have had the car tuned, plugs replaced, mass airflow sensor cleaned , O2 sensor replaced and the catalytic converter checked, all at a great expense. I refuse to use E10 and ince running the car on 95 RON which is more expensive, the car runs normally.

    Last week, a friend borrowed the car and filled it with E10 as a courtesy. Guess what – rough again at idle and fuel consumption up . this is no coincidence, no wonder you cant run mowers and whipper snippers on this rubbish fuel.

    What great news for motorists, bring back normal unleaded so we can save on fuel bills and expensive mechanical checks on cars to confirm what I suspected, this fuel is rubbish.

    February 7th, 2012 at 7:20 pm

  15. PMCD says:

    Dear LR Walton,
    No, E10 is not cheaper. Remember when it used to be 4c/l less than straight unleaded? Now its only 2c/l less. For for the energy content, it should be 6c/l less, & for the milage I get, it should be 8c/l less.

    February 8th, 2012 at 8:11 am

  16. Michael Nixon says:

    Walter, no-one is talking about bringing back leaded petrol. All we want is plain standard unleaded (91 octane) rather than having to pay up to 20c/litre more for 95 octane to avoid the ethanol additive.

    February 8th, 2012 at 4:17 pm

  17. Michael Nixon says:

    I got a reply from Woolworths Petrol this afternoon. As Lyn Martin said yesterday, the ULP91 ban is effectively remaining in place.
    They said:
    “Thanks for your enquiry regarding E10 in Queanbeyan. Unfortunately Woolworths are not able to remove E10 as the NSW Bio Fuels legislation remains unchanged and still requires 6% of all petrol sales to be ethanol. If you would like further information on the legislation I would recommend the NSW Bio Fuels website.
    The announcement primarily effects independent service station operators not captured by the Bio Fuels legislation. Woolworths will not be able to reintroduce regular Unleaded petrol, I apologise for this but Woolworths is required to comply with the governments legislation.”

    I assume the other major chains will be in the same boat, so ULP91 will be very hard to find. I suspect if the volume sold drops dramatically, refineries (in NSW at least) won’t bother making the stuff?

    February 8th, 2012 at 4:22 pm

  18. Lee Noonan says:

    Great News for all the owners of cars New & not so new plus everyone who owns an outboard motor or Lawn Mower or whipper snipper etc.
    Shell advises NOT to use E10 with ethanol in any of these devices in their brochure.
    My restored 1968 Volkswagen beetle loses about 40% of its power when I use E10… and naturally economy goes out the door…
    so I always use Premium 98 fuel , although 95 is OK too.
    My Wife’s 2009 Suzuki Swift also goes Much Much better using 98 Premium fuel with NO ethanol than with E10…

    Its been proven that E10 is NOT economical to Use . Much better performance Plus much much better fuel economy.
    The other Big Plus is for owners and operators of older Service Stations that will need to replace their Old pumps at great cost so they can sell E10 with ethanol.

    There were signs on Woolworths Caltex E10 bowsers last year advising that there may NOT be any ethanol in the fuel due to an ethanol shortage….

    A few years ago, it was illegal to sell fuel with Ethanol in Western Australia , I’m not sure whether this law has changed.

    Lee Noonan

    February 8th, 2012 at 5:42 pm

  19. Lee Noonan says:

    much better performance Plus much much better fuel economy with Premium 98 fuel..
    I left off “with premium 98 fuel”


    February 8th, 2012 at 5:45 pm

  20. jo plut says:


    February 8th, 2012 at 6:12 pm

  21. Lee Noonan says:

    Hi John
    If the E10 ethanol law came in it just means that You need to use Premium 98 or 95 fuel that does NOT contain Ethanol..
    E98 is an excellent fuel as it has additives that clean Your fuel system.
    Only problem is the cost.. I filled up today will 98 and it cost $65 to fill a Suzuki swift with a 40 litre tank. The fuel was $1-61 a litre compared to $1-45 for E10.
    My restored 1968 VW beetle loses about 40% of power running ethanol, so its 98 for it too.. Many older service stations still sell NON ethanol fuel as the pumps would probably need replacing which could mean a lot of private service stations would close down because of the costs.


    Lee Noonan SCONE NSW

    February 8th, 2012 at 9:18 pm

  22. Peter Shap says:

    E10 is a petrol for some and if the engine is completely designed for it then is is OK.

    The big problem E10 has is less in Kms per litre than regular fuel by at less 10%.

    The excise is not on ethenol so we can save 4 cent a litre. What about the 10% loss then the adjusted value should be eg. $1.50 would be 15 cents which when added to the 4cents would make E10 19 cent less than regular.

    So you are all being rip off by both Fuel company and Government.

    Now polution if the air quality of E10 is 120g they forget to add the extra 10% on which makes 132g making it not so green.

    Have a good day

    February 10th, 2012 at 12:15 pm