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Wednesday, 13 August 2003
Page: 18409


Mr CREAN (3:22 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. I ask the Prime Minister if he can confirm advice sent to him on 29 August 2002 which was signed off by PM&C, DFAT and the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources as well, but not the Treasury. The title says, `Address: Prime Minister (for information as requested)'. It then says:

Background

You requested further advice on the possible replacement of the current excise exemption for ethanol with a subsidy for domestic ethanol producers.

It goes on to say:

DFAT advises that the Brazil Post has confirmed that a company trading in Rio de Janeiro as Trafigura has a shipment of 12,000 cubic metres of ethanol to go to Trafigura Limited in Sydney. The shipment has yet to leave Brazil.

The advice goes on to talk about the scheme and how it was a scheme that could be rorted. Prime Minister, I ask if you can confirm that advice. I also ask why this advice was not contained in the freedom of information list sought by the opposition from your department in relation to these matters. Will you release all the information now on what has become a disgraceful cover-up by your government to protect a domestic producer?


The SPEAKER —The Leader of the Opposition will withdraw the latter reflection. The question stood in its own right without that reflection. The reflection did nothing for the integrity of the question.


Mr CREAN —I withdraw the reflection.


Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I will check the record. I could have got advice to that effect, but I will check the record before I confirm it. Let me repeat: I am not disguising the fact that we sought information about this shipment. I am not disguising that fact at all. I am not disguising the fact that I like to protect local industry. I like jobs for Australians—I am not disguising that fact. There are a few on your front bench who would secretly agree with me on that.