JOHN Hewson, the chairman of Bioenergy Australia, has said a transition to a 'circular economy' with a focus on carbon would benefit rural and regional Australia.
Speaking at a Grain Growers summit in Bendigo today as part of the organisation's annual general meeting (AGM), Dr Hewson, formerly the leader of the Liberal Party, said bio-industry could help provide critical employment outside capital cities while helping battle emerging problems.
"In Australia there are two specific issues I see that we are way behind in addressing and they are dealing with waste and fuel security," Dr Hewson said.
"These two issues are critical in terms of Australia formulating an effective response to climate change, but there are problems in both areas.
"On the waste front we used to export our recycling to places such as China, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, but they have made it clear they will not take any more and we now have to confront this significant domestic waste problem."
"Regarding fuel, there is enough in reserve in Australia for just 21 days, we constantly rely on the shipments of fuel to come from Singapore and if they don't arrive it would get very difficult very quick for us.
"We've already had a taste of what fuel shortages can mean, we saw it on farms in Victoria, at Melbourne airport when there were no fuel supplies available or in Darwin when a military exercise was postponed due to a lack of fuel."
Dr Hewson said Australia needed to revisit the possibility of making biofuel as a potential solution to both the problems.
"We can make biofuels in a very effective ways, a lot of agriculture industries are looking closely at that and the science is in - we can do it and it address that issue of fuel security, but there is no framework or certainty at a government level and that is hindering investment."
"Bankers are worried about policy or indeed a Prime Minister changing tomorrow and having to start again."
Dr Hewson said biofuel manufacturing could be a boon for regional Australia.
"We have the feedstock even in drought areas spread right across the country.
"There is scope for a regional employment strategy where you see waste recycled into fuel, electricity, bioplastic or whatever.
"We could have regional waste recycling and refineries and I think this is slowly starting to be recognised in Canberrra by both sides of politics."
"The circular economy will be important and we need to address the issues that stop it developing and based on conversations I've had with both sides of politics I expect a parliamentary inquiry looking at those impediments."