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Monday, 18 August 2003
Page: 18710

Mr CREAN (3:17 PM) —My question is again to the Minister for Trade, and I again refer the minister to his statement last week that he was not involved in the decision concerning the arrangements to assist Manildra. Minister, doesn't the 4 June letter that I referred to earlier also introduce Ernst and Young to the minister's department and foreshadow subsequent contact with them? Wasn't this the same firm that developed the preliminary report on the ethanol plan discussed at the 1 August meeting with Mr Honan that the Prime Minister failed to disclose? Minister, doesn't this show that you as minister, and your office, were involved in the development and implementation of the ethanol plan right from the very beginning?

Mr VAILE (Minister for Trade) —With regard to Ernst and Young—it was referred to in the letter that the Leader of the Opposition referred to—

The SPEAKER —Order!

Mr VAILE —my department have advised that they did not receive any contact from Ernst and Young. I was not at the meeting between the Prime Minister and Mr Honan on 1 August. With regard to the insinuation that the Leader of the Opposition is making, which is implicit in his question, my comment last week was that at the time of the cabinet decision on 10 September I was in Iran representing Australia.

The SPEAKER —Order!

Mr VAILE —I was in Iran—

Mr Crean —So you were involved in the meeting.

The SPEAKER —The minister has the call. The minister is entitled, as a fundamental right, to be heard in silence. The Leader of the Opposition was granted the right to ask his question, and he will extend the same courtesy to the minister.

Mr VAILE —What I said last week was that when the cabinet decision was taken on 10 September I was in Iran. I was not at that cabinet meeting, and that is what I put on the public record last week. I was not privy to that discussion. Implicit in the Leader of the Opposition's questions is his indication that it is otherwise.

Mr Crean —I seek leave to table the letter of 4 June that I have referred to.

Leave granted.