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Thursday, 25 March 2004
Page: 27292

Mr McMULLAN (3:05 PM) —My question is to a mature age worker. I want to ask the Prime Minister—

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER —Order! I will not tolerate this sort of nonsense that simply says we will instruct the chair from a sitting position. If someone has a point of order they can raise it. I also indicate to the member for Fraser that, while his preamble may have largely intended to be humorous, the chair may be more sensitive than he knows about the preamble he has just given.

Mr McMULLAN —Can the Prime Minister confirm that in March 2003 departmental officials from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Treasury, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade formed an IDC to discuss the management of freedom of information requests from the opposition regarding the government's dealings with the Manildra Group? Can the Prime Minister also confirm that the meeting took place only weeks after the Liberal and National parties received $200,000 in donations on 14 February 2003 from Manildra?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I do not know. I literally do not know. But I will, as always, make inquiries, and if there is anything that should be added it will be added. But there is no argument that Manildra has made donations to all political parties. I am not ashamed of that, The Nationals are not ashamed of it and, of course, the former Leader of the Opposition was not ashamed of it. On 2 November 2001—who would have been the Leader of the Opposition then: it would have been the member for Brand—I think Mr Honan had a meeting with the Leader of the Opposition in which the then Leader of the Opposition pledged to support—

Opposition members interjecting

Mr HOWARD —No, this is about the ethanol industry. The then Leader of the Opposition pledged to support the ethanol industry, and I note that in that year Manildra gave $55,000 to the Australian Labor Party. Can I just make a salient point for the record?

The SPEAKER —I warn the member for Jagajaga!

Mr HOWARD —I think I get the thrust. I think the thrust is that we have done favours for Manildra. Can I remind the member for Fraser that the greatest request that Manildra has persistently made of this government is to mandate a certain level of ethanol consumption, and we have persistently refused to do that.

Mr McMullan —Mr Speaker, I seek leave to table a number of documents relating to the last series of questions.

Government members interjecting

Mr McMullan —The standing orders unfortunately do not allow you to do that—

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Fraser is aware that he should address his remarks through the chair. He has the call and he is seeking to table documents. He will identify the documents.

Mr McMullan —Thank you very much. The first is the House Hansard of 25 September 2002, page 7211.

The SPEAKER —Leave is given.

Mr McMullan —The second is an email from officials in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry headed `Ethanol FOI: involvement of minister's office'.

The SPEAKER —Leave is given.

Mr McMullan —The third is a straightforward Senate Hansard extract.

The SPEAKER —Leave is given.

Mr McMullan —The fourth is a series of emails from the department of industry relating to the FOI request dated 7 March.

The SPEAKER —Leave is given.

Mr McMullan —Then there are more FOIs from the Department of Industry, Technology and Resources concerning the IDC meeting. Then there is the AEC annual return of Manildra Flour Mills Pty Ltd dated 17 November 2003.

The SPEAKER —I believe leave is given for each of those.