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Wednesday, 13 August 2003
Page: 18426

Mr KATTER (4:31 PM) —In rising to speak in the debate on this motion, I must say in all fairness, having been a member of parliament for a very long time, that I think the Prime Minister is one of the most honest members of parliament that I have ever encountered in my 30 years in parliament. I have to say that and put that on the public record, because that is what I believe.

Having said that, the great sadness about this debate is that the ALP, the champions of ethanol in this country—and I flatter them very highly and praise them very greatly for it—have gone on a sidetrack here. They are quite entitled to. I think they genuinely believe what they are saying here today. But what has happened here—and it is happening here again today—is that enormous damage has been done to the cause of ethanol. Anyone here can get the Parliamentary Library's rundown on ethanol. I did yesterday, and I was quite horrified by the document, because, according to the flow of information coming from government departments here in Canberra, ethanol is damaging to the environment. We have a choice of believing the people in Canberra or believing the government of the United States, all of whose reports say that there is a benefit to the environment of around 34 per cent from going down the ethanol pathway—and, of course, the American senators voted, in a near unanimous decision, to have a 10 per cent ethanol blend instituted by 2010.

I did not have the European draft directive to the European Union until two weeks ago. It recommends a mandated six per cent ethanol content by 2010, for environmental reasons. If the ALP were trying to introduce ethanol—

Mrs Crosio —This is a censure motion.

Mr KATTER —I know what you are saying. If the Prime Minister is being censured today for his efforts to try to develop the ethanol industry in Australia then we must consider what we are doing here today. We must consider that we have a choice. We can say that the American government, which is a government with responsibility for 300 million people, is wrong and that the European government, which is a government with responsibility for 600 million people, is wrong, while all the public servants here in Canberra from the various departments are right. We are a little country of 20 million people, and nobody is going to believe those public servants. I told the Parliamentary Library yesterday that I very much regretted what they had put out. I think the information provided to them by government departments is disgraceful. Those documents from Europe and America are on the public record. The USDA report is one that I remember—it is by Wang and Shapouri—and the draft directive of the EU is available for anyone to pick up off the Internet. But before I close—

The SPEAKER —I remind the member for Kennedy that he has an obligation to come back to the question.

Mr KATTER —I know what you are saying, Mr Speaker. But, if the Prime Minister has stumbled here—and people on my right are claiming that he did it knowingly and people on my left would claim that there has been no stumble at all, and maybe if there has been it might have been just that, a stumble—he did it in an effort to introduce a new industry which is worth $2,000 million to the Australian economy. I most certainly believe and hope that he did it for that reason. That is the justification for an effort made by the Prime Minister to move in a direction that this country should be moving in. There is a $2,000 million per year benefit to the Australian economy. It is money that will no longer go overseas to buy petrol from overseas; it is money that will come here.

In this whole thing about Manildra one of the most important issues is that it was said to be a production rebate that was given here. It should have been an environmental rebate, because there are very serious problems with the WTO. So again a number of errors have been made in an effort to advance the cause, and it is a very important cause—the cause of ethanol. I do not come from Sydney and I do not represent Melbourne or Sydney, but before I sit down I think it is very important to point out the report in the February 2002 issue of New Scientist, which referred to a study on cancer and pollution that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study found that one person in five is dying of lung cancer in major cities because of exhaust fumes coming out of motor vehicles. Of course, ethanol is one of the major ways of overcoming the problem. If there is a way—

The SPEAKER —The member for Kennedy must tie these remarks to the censure motion.

Mr KATTER —I am saying that possibly there has been a mistake made here. That mistake was made bending over backwards in an effort to do something that desperately needs to be done in this country. The people on my right were champions of that cause. I am very sorry that they have lost their way a little bit, but I hope that they will come back on track. You cannot read the reports by Professor Ray Kearney or any of the other four professors without—

Mr Latham —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I have been listening for five minutes and there has barely been a mention of the subject matter that is before the House. The opposition for one has other important business to transact—

The SPEAKER —The member for Werriwa will resume his seat. The member for Werriwa will be aware that I have monitored what the member for Kennedy has said and I have asked him to bring his remarks back to the censure motion, as from time to time he has.

The SPEAKER —The member for Parramatta, I have dealt with that point of order. Do you have a further point of order?

Mr Ross Cameron —Only that the member for Werriwa in his remarks referred to national security, health, education—

The SPEAKER —The member for Parramatta will resume his seat. Had there been a point of order to be raised on the member for Werriwa, I should have heard it then. I listened closely to the member for Werriwa; his remarks were relevant to the censure motion. I am putting precisely the same obligation on the member for Kennedy.

Mr KATTER —Let me state this clearly for the House and for the member for Werriwa, who may be a little bit slow and may find it a bit hard to pick up these things. Let me explain it for him, because he is representing Sydney. He should be tuned in very closely to what I am saying because he is going to have a great amount of egg on his face very shortly when a large number of distinguished people in Australia make some very strong statements about the health issue.

The SPEAKER —The member for Kennedy must come back to the censure motion.

Mr KATTER —If a mistake has been made—and I am not saying that a mistake has been made by the Prime Minister—there is some justification for it because, if we all in this place had full knowledge of the issue we would be inclined to stretch ourselves to a very great length to introduce ethanol into this country, as many politicians have done in the United States and Europe. I am saying that there is a justification for an excess of enthusiasm, possibly, and I am trying to bring to the attention of the House the justification for that excess of enthusiasm.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr KATTER —You can keep howling from my right-hand side but if you are listening to what I am saying you would say that this is very important information that should be provided to the parliament of Australia.

The SPEAKER —The member for Kennedy will address his remarks through the chair.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr KATTER —I cannot take any more interjections. This is most relevant to the reasons this incident occurred. This incident occurred because there are people in this parliament who believe profoundly that we desperately need it this in this country for the health of the people in the cities, for the survival of some of our industries in rural Australia, for our economy and for our environment. The other countries are doing it for the environment. That is possibly the reason for the excess of enthusiasm which has led to this particular occurrence. Surely, instead of what is a fairly petty debate, the time of this House should be spent on whether there is one in five people dying of lung cancer in Sydney or whether there should not be one in five people dying of lung cancer in Sydney. That is not my point; it is the point made by the NewScientist.

Question put:

That the motion (Mr Crean's) be agreed to.