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Monday, 6 December 2004
Page: 23

Senator CARR (2:10 PM) —My question without notice is to Senator Ian Campbell, the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, and I want to emphasise that it is in his representational role. I refer the minister to the $1.2 million grant awarded to Primary Energy Pty Ltd under the Regional Partnerships program and I ask whether the company's application disclosed the fact it has unsuccessfully sought funding from the Greenhouse Gas Abatement Program and the Biofuels Capital Grants scheme. Is it also the case that the project failed to meet the guidelines of the stand-alone Namoi Valley Structural Adjustment Package?

Senator IAN CAMPBELL (Minister for the Environment and Heritage) —I have not seen the application for the regional services grant. As Senator Carr would know, that is in a different portfolio. But I have been told, which partially answers the question of Senator Wong earlier, that in fact the proponents from PEL made no application under the Greenhouse Gas Abatement Program. I will of course make sure that my department checks that and that the Senate is informed, but the people have informed our office that no formal application was made. I would be very surprised if an application under another government program would have indicated that they had applied under the Greenhouse Gas Abatement Program, because the best information I have at the moment is that they made no formal application under that program.

We now see that the premise of Senator Wong's question was wrong and that the premise of Senator Carr's question is now wrong. It exposes Labor once again in an unashamed attack on a regional group of people who want to get together and work within the region to develop a program that is good for employment, for the environment and for building jobs—50 long-term jobs, 350 jobs indirectly. And what have we got? We have got Labor's inner-city, cappuccino-sipping senators coming along and belting regional Australia—regional Australians who want to be part of helping the environment. They are part of a program to reform Australia's water use, to ensure that water is used sustainably. They want to do some readjustment and some structural adjustment and develop other businesses. All we have is a cacophony of inner-city Labor senators trying to drag down Australians living in the regions who want to get on and do something good for their community, for employment and for the environment.

I suggest to Senator Carr and to Senator Wong that, instead of sitting in the inner suburbs of Australia during the summer recess, they go out and get themselves a pair of boots, walk around the dusty backblocks of regional Australia and speak with some fair dinkum Australians who are keen to see this country develop. Last week I suggested that they buy RM Williams boots and get them a bit dusty, but they want to close down the RM Williams factory. Next day I said to go for Blundstones. I saw in the Herald Sun this morning that there is a special on Bata Industrials—$89.99. They might fit Senator Carr. Go out and get them dirty, talk to some real Australians who actually want to help Australia, the economy and the environment, rather than come in here carping, whinging and being negative and oppositionist, as you have been for the last eight years.

Senator CARR —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I would ask the minister to confirm that he will take that question on notice. Further, will he confirm that the principals of Primary Energy Ltd actually told ABC radio that they had applied for a grant under the Greenhouse Gas Abatement Program? I would ask the minister to confirm whether there was a formal or an informal application and whether or not such statements were made to ABC radio. In doing so, I would also seek the minister's answer as to whether or not the Gunnedah grains-to-ethanol project was rejected under the Namoi Valley Structural Adjustment Package, the Greenhouse Gas Abatement Program and the biofuels capital grants scheme. Is it also the case that the program failed to meet the tests laid down in the published Regional Partnerships program guidelines and that the only way this Gunnedah project could get up under these dodgy secret guidelines was devised and approved by the local member? Was it not the case that the project failed to meet those accountability requirements? (Time expired)

Senator IAN CAMPBELL (Minister for the Environment and Heritage) —Once again we have Labor tearing down a proponent of a proposal that helps regional Australia. You have to presume from Labor's attack that they would stop funding going to all of these proposals. That is the threat of Labor. Last week Senator Carr said they should not get the money because the place of business of the person who put forward the proposal was the same as his place of residence—that is, a farm. Senator Carr is so out of touch with regional Australia that he does not understand that most farmers actually run their businesses from their farms. This proposal passed the guidelines. What is Senator Carr doing now? He is attacking the guidelines. He will do and say anything to stop any reasonable development in regional Australia. This government stands by regional Australia; Labor want to tear it down.