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Thursday, 29 May 1997
Page: 3975

Senator COOK(12.43 p.m.) —Senator Brown has promised me his vote, so I will not disagree with his logic; although I do not follow it all that clearly. I would suggest, though, Minister, that it might be worthwhile framing his comment, because I think it might be the first time on the record that Senator Brown has praised a mining operation—Goliath, in this case—for its environmental remediation and concern.

You said that this matter was cleared up on 1 July 1995 under the former government. I have in front of me a letter dated 9 August 1995 from the office of then Minister for Small Business, Customs and Construction, the Hon. Chris Schacht, in which he says:

However, the law continues to allow rebate to be paid where an activity can be said to be `mining for minerals' and does not simply constitute the extraction of the now excluded materials.

I can go on, but that is a clear reference to the entitlement of the cement industry. Then on 16 October 1996 the now Minister for Small Business and Consumer Affairs, the Hon. Geoff Prosser, said in a letter to the Chief Executive Officer of the Cement Industry Federation:

The only materials presently eligible are limestone for use in de-acidification of soil in agriculture . . .

That much we know, and it is common ground between us all here. I emphasise these words in the letter:

. . . and materials from which the mineral content is extracted, such as rutile.

He easily could have said `such as calcite'.

Senator Parer —It's not extracted.

Senator COOK —That is the argument before the AAT, and I do not intend to try to second-guess the AAT.

Progress reported.