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Media Release – Small Engine Emissions Bill is Law

Media Release

Yesterday the Australian Senate voted to approve the Product Emissions Standards Bill.

The Rules (Regulations) are being drafted and Industry has a further meeting with the Environment Department today

The Rules are planned to commence next year, with the final imports of high emission outboards and mowers on 30 June 2018. Wholesalers and Dealers will then have a year to sell off old stock. All of this was announced in January – giving Industry 30 months clear notice – though regulations in general were in process since 2015.

With a two stroke lawn mower pushing out 40 times the emissions of a car, and a brush cutter as much as ten cars, standards were overdue. The USA started small engine emissions laws twenty years ago. The EU, Canada, Japan and many other countries followed. China’s standards commenced in 2011.

Non-complaint outboards (carby and EFI two-strokes) don’t just have 10% or 20% more emissions than four strokes or Direct Injection two-strokes. On average the dirty engine has eleven times the emissions, but some of the Cheap, Cheerful, Copy engines have been measured at 39 times the emissions of a clean engine.

In practice this means that a tiny 8hp carby two-stroke pushes out 59% more emissions per hour that a large 150hp four-stroke outboard. Both “quality” products of the market leading manufacturer.

What follows next is the Rules. The devil is always in the details.

Sadly the Complimentary Bill will be a nightmare for industry. The Bill amends the Customs Act, so Australia’s Border Force is exempted from their usual role of seizing any illegal imports. They seize drugs, weapons, counterfeit handbags and even US made boat trailers. But not illegal engines.

Enforcement will be left in the hands of the Department of Environment. The “pink batts” Royal Commission and two Auditor General Reports make it hard to see how the Department has what it takes to manage the 1.3m small engines imported each year.

Industry has recommended a Co-Regulation arrangement to fill the enforcement gap.


Gary Fooks, Chair of Blue Sky Alliance has been working on this Bill since the 2006 Expert Panel. Appointed the Minister’s first Clean Air Champion in 2015 he is a keen angler and winner of the Healthy Waterways Award in 2007.

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Yesterday at 4:49 pm A few minutes ago, the Product Emissions Standards Bill, that will see the end of two-stroke mowers and outboards passed the first hurdle and is expected to be passed by the Senate soon.

The Bill has been classified as “non-contentious” and is supported by both the Government and Labor. Emissions standards for small petrol engines from mowers to outboards and jet skis to chainsaws has been a Greens policy introduced by Sen Di Natale in 2013.

It is well overdue, in fact it’s a little embarrassing for Australia” according to Gary Fooks, chair of the cross industry peak body – Blue Sky Alliance. “The Federal Government has been working on this since 2005, so we are now 20 years behind the USA; behind the EU; Canada; and Japan. We are even six years behind China.”

According to government reports a lawn mower can produce 40 times the emissions of a car, a brush cutter the same hourly emission as ten cars. The phase in will start with import restrictions commencing mid-2018. Nothing in Australian sheds will be banned, and high-quality hand-held machines like two strokes will pass the standards based on the current USA rules.

Asked if industry was happy Fooks replied “Industry has been calling for these standards since 2007, so yes, we are relieved. What still concerns us greatly is the effective enforcement of the laws. The Bill relieves Customs of any responsibility to stop illegal engines, so who will police 1.3 million imports? The pink batts Royal Commission taught us that Environment doesn’t have what it takes to police anything this big.

It looks like Industry will need to take the role of watchdog to protects Australia’s Environment, according to Fooks. The fine details and any loopholes won’t be known until we see the Rules in October.

Victa ceased production of the iconic Australian two stroke mower in 2016.

If you have any comments or questions, please contact Gary Fooks – Chair, Blue Sky Alliance at
or go to the website at .


OPEA Media Release – Emission Laws Bill in Parliament – New Legislation

Emissions Laws Bill in Parliament- OPEA Media Release DRAFT0 (002)


AI Group – Industry Newsletter – 17th May 2017

You can view the May AI Group Newsletter here.


AI Group – Industry Newsletter 8 March 2017

You can view the March AI Group Newsletter here.