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Monday, 15 June 2009
Page: 5890


Mr TURNBULL (2:45 PM) —My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to Mr John Grant, who has supplied him with a free car for almost all of the time he has been Leader of the Labor Party, and to the Prime Minister’s answer in question time—

Government members interjecting—


Ms Gillard —Is that your big attack on the economy?


The SPEAKER —Order! The Leader of the Opposition has the call.


Mr TURNBULL —Thank you, Mr Speaker, I will start again. I refer the Prime Minister to Mr John Grant, who has supplied him with a free car for almost all of the time he has been Leader of the Labor Party, and to the Prime Minister’s answer in question time on 4 June when he most indignantly denied that he or his office had spoken to Mr Grant in relation to OzCar, the taxpayer funded finance company, or had made any representations on behalf of Mr Grant. Does the Prime Minister stand by this denial?


Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —My answer is as it was the last time the honourable member raised this question because that is the advice I have received from my office. Furthermore, can I say to the honourable member that, since this particular vehicle was provided by the individual concerned, the declaration on pecuniary interest was made. The ute was valued at around $5,000; it was put in my pecuniary interest statement on 3 July 2007, as is required by the Commonwealth parliament. Furthermore, I would say to the honourable member that, in terms of representations that have been made by various members in this place, I am also advised that in addition to the car dealer from Sydney who spoke to me, Mr Kaplan, from Hunter Holden in Sydney, which I referred to the other day in answer to the honourable member’s question, there have also been representations to the government from the member for Riverina, the member for Dunkley, the member for Murray and, of course, the member for Dawson as well. It is entirely normal for representations to be made to OzCar because this is the sort of thing that members of parliament are required to do if they are asked to actually get out there and support the industry.

The reason this particular facility existed was that we were approached as a government by the industry at the end of 2008 about the collapse in normal supplies of motor vehicle finance. As a consequence of that, the government took the view that a co-investment vehicle, a special-purpose vehicle, between ourselves and the banks was an appropriate way to step into the marketplace and to provide, therefore, an alternative source of finance. We have also been advised that, had we not done so, the impact that would have had in terms of confidence across the industry would have been significant. Therefore, I would say this has been a worthwhile measure on the part of the government, and any member of this place, if they are approached by a business seeking to access a government program, would be entirely entitled to make representations. But to go back to the honourable member’s question: the advice that I received from my office remains current on the matter which the honourable member raises.