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Wednesday, 13 August 2003
Page: 18401


Mr CREAN (2:39 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister and it relates to the answer he gave to my last question. Prime Minister, if it is true that you were advised that imports of ethanol from Brazil to this country had never occurred, and if, as you have just said in relation to the answer—


Mr Howard —I didn't say that.


Mr CREAN —You said that you were advised by sources that imports from Brazil—


The SPEAKER —Order! The Leader of the Opposition will address his remarks through the chair. The Prime Minister can then respond.


Mr CREAN —If it is true that imports of ethanol from Brazil to this country had not previously occurred and if, as you have just said in answer to a question, a pending shipment of ethanol from Brazil was not discussed at your meeting with Mr Honan on 1 August, why does the record of that meeting state that you:

... discussed the payment of a producer credit to ethanol producers to enable Australian ethanol producers to compete with the cheaper Brazilian product.

Isn't this just another example of your misleading this House on this very crucial issue?


Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The opposition are being anything but propinquitous to standing order 153. Earlier, the Leader of the House advised you that they were making a slur against the Prime Minister that should only be by substantive motion. Under standing order 153, the suggestion that a minister has misled the House can only be done by a substantive motion. I would ask you to require that the Leader of the Opposition either do that or withdraw that question.


Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —The position is that on 1 August, when I met Mr Honan, we did not discuss pending imports of Brazilian ethanol either generically or the specific Trafigura shipment. That is my recollection and that is what the record shows.


Mr Crean —The record shows—


The SPEAKER —The Leader of the Opposition has asked his question.


Mr HOWARD —The record does not show that. The record that has been released says that the Manildra Group has engaged Ernst and Young to develop a model for the introduction of a renewable fuel policy and it seeks particular policies designed to help producers in relation to competition with the cheaper Brazilian product. That does not of itself—



The SPEAKER —The Leader of the Opposition has an obligation to abide by standing order 55 and I expect him to do so.


Mr HOWARD —I do not for a moment suggest that there was any reference in that meeting to pending imports, either generically or the Trafigura import. I did not suggest that. The reference I made in an earlier answer to the advice that I received—


Mr Crean —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It goes to relevance. Is the Prime Minister seriously suggesting a record—


The SPEAKER —The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. That was a frivolous point of order.



The SPEAKER —The Leader of the Opposition will withdraw that interjection against the chair.


Mr Crean —I withdraw it against the chair, but I ask the Prime Minister to answer the question.


The SPEAKER —The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat.


Mr HOWARD —I repeat what I have said from the beginning of this series of questions. Importations of ethanol from Brazil, either the particular importation with Trafigura, which was the starting point of the questions, or indeed generically, were not discussed. That is the case.


Mr Crean —The note!


Mr HOWARD —The note does not mention imports.