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Thursday, 2 September 1999
Page: 9898


Mr Martin Ferguson asked the Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business, upon notice, on 1 June 1999:

(1) Has the Minister or a department or agency administered by the Minister provided grants to the National Farmers' Federation (NFF) or bodies related to the NFF since 2 March 1996; if so, (a) in each case, (i) what was the nature of the grant and (ii) for what purpose was it provided and (b) what total sum was provided.

(2) To what boards, committees or other bodies for which the Minister has portfolio responsibility have (a) Mr Donald McGauchie (b) Dr Wendy Craik or (c) other officers or staff of the NFF been appointed since 2 March 1996.

(3) What sums has the Commonwealth paid in (a) sitting fees, (b) board fees, (c) travel costs and (d) related expenses with respect to each appointment referred to in part (2).


Mr Reith (Workplace Relations and Small Business) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) No.

(2) (a) None.

(b) None.

(c) Mr David Wolfenden, President of the Wool Council of Australia, a Commodity Council of the NFF, is a member of the steering group for the joint National Occupational Health and Safety Commission/National Registration Authority project "Simplifying the Safe Use of Chemicals on Farms". Mr Wolfenden was nominated on 6 November 1998 by the NFF because of his expertise in farm Occupational Health and Safety issues, including chemical substances.

Mr James Ferguson, formerly the NFF Director of Industrial Relations, was appointed to the National Labour Consultative Council (NLCC) from 18 April 1996 to 17 April 1998 and from 14 June 1998 to 7 January 1999. Mr Richard Calver, his successor as the NFF Director of Industrial Relations, has been appointed to the NLCC from 18 March 1999 to 13 May 2000.

As far as can be ascertained from a thorough examination of the relevant records, no other officers or staff of the NFF have been appointed to boards, committees or other bodies for which I have portfolio responsibility.

(3) No sitting fees, board fees, travel costs or related expenses have been paid to Mr Wolfenden from the time of his appointment to 1 June 1999, as the steering group had not met.

(a) No sitting fees were paid to Mr Ferguson or Mr Calver.

(b) No board fees were paid to Mr Ferguson or Mr Calver.

(c) Under the National Labour Consultative Council Act 1977, NLCC members are entitled to payment of travelling allowance at a rate equal to the highest rate of travelling allowance payable to officers of the Australian Public Service other than Secretaries (section 9).

Since 2 March 1996, there have been eight NLCC meetings. My Department's records indicate that Mr Ferguson attended two meetings for which the cost of airfares was reimbursed. Mr Ferguson also attended one meeting in his then home city of Canberra for which he did not seek any reimbursement of expenses. Mr Calver has attended one meeting following his appointment on 18 March 1999 for which the cost of airfare and related expenses such as taxi fares was reimbursed.

The amounts that DEWRSB's records of payments show were made to the NFF relating to Mr Ferguson's and Mr Calver's attendance at the NLCC are listed below:

. $444 for Mr Ferguson to attend the NLCC on 5 December 1997—reimbursement of airfares from Canberra to Melbourne return;

. $1,961.40 for Mr Ferguson to attend the NLCC on 14 December 1998—reimbursement for the cost of airfare from Perth to Sydney return; and

. $527.90 for Mr Calver to attend the NLCC on 14 May 1999—reimbursement for the cost of airfare and related expenses from Canberra to Melbourne.

(d) Nil.