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Monday, 6 December 2004
Page: 35


Senator IAN CAMPBELL (Minister for the Environment and Heritage) (3:04 PM) —During question time today, I was asked questions by both Senator Wong and Senator Carr in relation to applications by the company Primary Energy Australia for grants under the Commonwealth grants programs. In relation to the Greenhouse Gas Abatement Program, my department, the Department of the Environment and Heritage, confirms that the company has not registered an interest in or submitted any applications for GGAP funding through any of the program's three competitive funding rounds. Further, in relation to the Namoi Valley Structural Adjustment Package that Senator Carr asked about, the structural adjustment committee recommended that the proposal put forward by Primary Energy Australia be supported.

Further in support of my remarks, I have been given a copy of a letter from the Chairman of Primary Energy Australia, Mr Ian Kiernan AO—a very successful international round-the-world sailor as well as Chairman of Clean Up Australia—which he sent to the Australian Financial Review on 3 December. In that Mr Kiernan wishes to express his concerns in writing, with reference to articles by Lenore Taylor published in the Financial Review concerning his company and the Regional Partnerships grants process. In the letter, Mr Keirnan makes the point that the Namoi Valley project offers capital expenditure of $100 million, operational expenditure of $81 million, expansion of the local economic base by $170 million, catalyst and base-load customers for $120 million for the Central Ranges natural gas pipeline and generation of an additional $30 million per year in household income. Also, construction of the plant will generate a one-time boost of $218 million in final demand as each dollar spent circulates through the local economy and there will be $47 million in export income and $88 million dollar in domestic revenue. He supports my projects in relation to the creation of 40 permanent positions—I think I have stated 50, so we disagree by 10 jobs there. He talks about 500 construction positions and agrees with me that it will create 350 permanent regional positions. The letter continues:

Granting was sought by the Proponents in good faith and the appropriate application process was rigorous and lengthy. Preliminary work as referred to in your article—

the article by the Financial Review—

had been undertaken on this project some years earlier. The grant was awarded to enable the project to proceed to financial close in the Namoi Region.

The project is at its most sensitive and Commercial in Confidence stage as it progresses toward Financial Close. And to add; the project is currently being assessed under the Biofuels Capital Grants Scheme. It would indeed be a great shame if this progress and prospects for grant success were jeopardized through inaccurate, negligent and mischievous reporting.

Yours Sincerely

Ian Kiernan AO

Chairman

Primary Energy Pty. Ltd

I seek leave to incorporate that letter from Mr Kiernan and I would like to add that it supports the fact that this grubby exercise by Labor, based on—


The PRESIDENT —Minister, you can ask for leave to incorporate things, but you cannot debate the issue. You would know that. Are you seeking leave to incorporate that letter?


Senator IAN CAMPBELL —Yes.


The PRESIDENT —Is leave granted?


Senator Chris Evans —On behalf of the Labor opposition, I will support incorporation when I have been shown the courtesy of having been shown the letter, as is the normal process.


Senator IAN CAMPBELL —I read the letter.


Senator Chris Evans —You read parts of it selectively, Senator Campbell. If you had offered us a copy of the letter, we would have agreed to incorporate it. We will grant leave to incorporate the letter, provided we see it first.


Senator IAN CAMPBELL —I table the letter.