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Monday, 18 August 2003
Page: 18711

Mr CREAN (3:23 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Trade and I refer to his statement that he was not involved in the decision concerning the arrangements to assist Manildra. Minister, doesn't the coordination comment from your own department on that cabinet submission support the ethanol arrangements? Doesn't the coordination comment also show that the arrangements to protect Manildra had been agreed to by the trade negotiations division of the minister's department? Didn't the minister's department provide joint advice to the Prime Minister's supporting the ethanol plan on 29 August 2002? And doesn't this advice show that the minister was involved in the development and implementation of the ethanol plan right from the very beginning?

Mr VAILE (Minister for Trade) —The Leader of the Opposition refers to and comments on coordination comments. Coordination comments are that; they are not the result of a decision. It is information at hand with regard to the sugar industry.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER —The member for Fraser, the member for Batman and the member for Swan!

Mr VAILE —The government has never made a secret—

Mr VAILE —of its support of a biofuels industry in Australia.

The SPEAKER —I warn the member for Batman!

Mr VAILE —In fact, going back to the last election, we had a stated policy of establishing a biofuels industry in Australia and seeing it grow. Reading from the policy at the time:

The Coalition will set an objective that fuel ethanol and biodiesel produced in Australia from renewable sources will contribute at least 350 million litres to the total fuel supply by 2010.

We made no secret of the fact, from the election in 2001, that we supported the development of a biofuels industry in Australia. At all times decisions have been taken in conjunction with that policy objective for the entire biofuels industry, not just an individual company.

Mr Crean —I seek leave to table an extract from the cabinet submission on ethanol.

Leave not granted.