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Monday, 18 August 2003
Page: 18708

Mr CREAN (3:08 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Trade. I refer to his statement last week that he was not involved in the decision involving the arrangements to assist Manildra. Can the minister confirm that there was contact between Manildra and his department as far back as 30 May 2002, when a senior trade bureaucrat, Mr Bruce Gosper, met personally with Mr Honan? Is it not the case that Mr Honan wrote to Mr Gosper and the minister's office on 4 June 2002 concerning that meeting? Weren't the minister and his office involved in the preparation of arrangements to assist the Manildra Group right from the beginning?

Mr VAILE (Minister for Trade) —With regard to the issue of contact between the Manildra Group and officers in my department that the Leader of the Opposition refers to, a meeting did take place on 30 May last year. I have been advised by my department that that was the case and that Mr Honan followed up on this meeting with a letter to the official that attached publicly available material with regard to ethanol programs in the United States. Obviously, I think some of these materials have been—

Mr VAILE —No, the documents have been subject to FOI, and they have been made publicly available. I point out that prior to that meeting with Mr Gosper the government had announced on 10 May that it would conduct a two-year study to address market barriers to the increased use of biofuels in transport. Presumably, that is some of the background that Mr Honan was discussing with the DFAT official with regard to those issues. My department advised me that DFAT did not provide any advice to Mr Honan following that meeting.

Mr Latham —I ask the minister to table the document from which he was reading at the dispatch box.

The SPEAKER —The minister has indicated that he will not table the document.