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Wednesday, 13 August 2003
Page: 18403

Ms ROXON (2:52 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and follows on from his answer to the last question. Is the minister aware of this letter from the management to employees of Manildra Group's Altona plant, advising that job losses at that location were because:

Legislative restrictions have recently been introduced limiting the amounts of ethanol which is permitted in domestic fuel.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER —Order! If the House has quite finished its childish amusement, I will recognise the member for Gellibrand. As all members must realise, the simple thing for the Speaker to do would be to apply a general warning. I have not done so, but should I choose to do so it will be because the House has asked me to.

Ms ROXON —Minister, isn't the legislative restriction being referred to a decision of the Howard government, one that the Prime Minister boasted of yesterday in question time, which places a cap of 10 per cent on ethanol blending?

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER —Does the Leader of the Opposition understand what a general warning means?

Mr ABBOTT (Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service) —That was a legislative restriction that was demanded by the federal opposition. In support of that 10 per cent cap, members opposite—

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER —Order! I issue a general warning. Anyone who chooses to defy the chair will effectively be asking that they no longer have the opportunity to represent their electors for the remainder of the day. It is in the hands of the members.

Mr ABBOTT —It was a legislative restriction demanded by members opposite and supported by a series of lies peddled by members opposite, including the lie that engines have been damaged by ethanol-additive petrol when in fact it was kerosene, as the member for Fraser well knows. In fact, if anyone in this parliament has misled it, it is the member for Fraser. I ask the member for Gellibrand, who will represent the 50 workers at the Altona plant who will soon lose their jobs—she will represent those workers after the next redistribution—what does she say to those workers who have lost their jobs because of the insane political campaign being run by the Leader of the Opposition?

Ms Roxon —I seek leave to table the document that I referred to.

Leave granted.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER —I remind members, including the member for Rankin, of their status.