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Friday, 10 May 1985
Page: 1780

Senator Button —On 28 February 1985 (Hansard, page 334) Senator Jones asked me the following question without notice:

I ask the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce whether his attention has been drawn to a joint statement by the Executive Director of the Queensland Motor Industry Association, Mr Jim Harris, and the Queensland State Secretary of the Transport Workers Union of Australia, Mr Len Ward, published in today's edition of the Brisbane Daily Sun, claiming that Federal freight subsidies for oil transportation to country areas were the subject of malpractice and profiteering by some independent wholesalers who are selling petroleum products in Brisbane at vastly inflated prices. What is the level of subsidies? What measures have been taken to investigate claims made in the statement? If the claims have been investigated, what is the result? What steps if any, have been taken to ensure there is no abuse of the federal freight subsidy scheme?

The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

The levels of payment under the petroleum products freight subsidy scheme for the State of Queensland have been:

(a) for the current financial year to 28/2/85- $31.1m;

(b) for the financial year 1983/84-$39.5m.

A continuing field investigation program based on risk assessment techniques is conducted by officers from the Australian Customs Service which is responsible for the administration of the Scheme.

I have arranged for the Collector of Customs Queensland to have officers contact Mr Harris and Mr Ward to obtain any information they have on these allegations of abuses of the Scheme so that their claims may be investigated and any appropriate action taken.