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Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

National fuel quality standards

Monitoring compliance enforcement
Environment Australia, 2002

The new standards

The Commonwealth Government has passed legislation to ensure Australian consumers receive high quality petrol and diesel.

The Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000 (the Act) and the Fuel Quality Standards Regulations 2001 provide the framework for enforcing national fuel quality standards.

The legislation, which is fully enforceable from 1 January 2002, will help Australia to reach international fuel quality standards.

It will regulate the supply of fuel to consumers, reduce toxic vehicle emissions and ensure that, by using clean fuels, modern vehicles fitted with advanced emissions control technologies operate at peak performance.

The new standards are prescribed in the Fuel Standard (Petrol) Determination 2001, and the Fuel Standard (Diesel) Determination 2001.

Where a State or Territory already has fuel standards in place, the Commonwealth standards will operate concurrently. State or Territory standards apply where they are more stringent or regulate a fuel characteristic not covered by the Commonwealth standards.

Under the legislation it is an offence to:

A supplier or producer found guilty of supplying 'off-spec' fuel may face penalties of up to $550,000.

Commonwealth inspectors appointed under the Act will monitor compliance with the fuel quality legislation and assist with enforcement.

Exceptions to the standards

The Act prohibits the supply of fuels that do not meet the standards set out in the Determinations for use in motor vehicles.

The Act also prohibits altering fuel so that it breaches the specifications of a standard, in prescribed circumstances.

There are four main exceptions to the prohibitions of the Act:

  1. The petrol standard does not apply to fuel supplied for use solely at a racing event or on a race track approved or recognised by:
    • the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport;
    • the National Association of Speedway Racing;
    • the Australian National Drag Racing Association;
    • the Australian Karting Association; or
    • Motorcycling Australia.
  2. An approval varying the standard for specified fuel supplies for a limited time can be granted under the Act by the Minister for the Environment and the Heritage.
  3. If the supplier believes that fuel will be further processed to bring it into compliance with the standard, it is not an offence to supply 'off-spec' fuel.
  4. The supply of 'off-spec' fuel may be permitted under a direction or order made under an emergency law.

The role of inspectors

Commonwealth inspectors are authorised, with consent or a warrant, to:

Inspectors are required to follow certain procedures when exercising their powers under the Act.

Consent to enter premises

On arrival at the premises, an inspector will provide identification and will ask for consent to enter the workplace.

You have the right to refuse your consent and the inspector should tell you this.

If, however, the inspector has a warrant, he or she is allowed to enter your workplace without your consent.


An inspector must provide a copy of their warrant to the occupier of the premises that is being entered or investigated.

An inspector with a warrant can enter a workplace but must tell the occupier they have this right. Only when an inspector believes there are safety or environmental concerns can they enter a workplace without informing the occupier of this right.

The occupier of the premises has the right to view the inspector search. He or she must provide an inspector with all reasonable assistance and answer any questions. Any person withholding assistance may face criminal charges.

A warrant may authorise an inspector to remove evidence from the workplace. In this instance the inspector must provide a receipt and under certain circumstances, evidence will be returned.

Taking fuel samples

Random fuel sampling at refineries, terminals, distribution terminals, service stations and other outlets will be undertaken by Commonwealth inspectors from 2002.

Fuel sampling will only be conducted by inspectors appointed under the Act. Inspectors will be properly qualified to exercise these powers safely in places where fuels are being supplied.

An inspector will take a number of fuel samples and must leave one of each sample type with the occupier of the premises.

Samples will be tested at laboratories accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities Australia. If a fuel sample is taken at a service station, the inspector will pay for it.

Further information

The Commonwealth's new fuel quality standards legislation is available from the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000 page.

Further information is available from Environment Australia's Community Information Unit on 1800 803 772 or email


The information contained in this pamphlet is of a general nature only and should be read in conjunction with the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000, the Fuel Quality Standards Regulations 2001, the Fuel Standard (Petrol) Determination 2001 and the Fuel Standard (Diesel) Determination 2001. Fuel suppliers may wish to seek legal advice about their obligations under this legislation.

January 2002