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Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Page: 6018


Mr HUNT (Flinders) (20:41): In the spirit of brevity, I will list a series of four questions relating to the administration of the minister's department. Those that he can answer now would assist the House and those that could be responded to in more detail, perhaps in writing on notice, would also constitute an acceptable outcome. The first is in relation to the Home Insulation Program, which was formerly a responsibility of the minister's department. Have any members and officers of the minister's department, either now or previously, been subject to any disciplinary action in regard to the failure of the Home Insulation Program? Given that previously the government has talked about possible action against officers, I would be grateful to know whether any officer, past or present, of the department of the environment, as it then was, has in anyway been counselled, disciplined or removed from office as a consequence of the tragic failures of that program?

The second area of administration relates to the protection of marine wildlife. Will the minister commit to a national inquiry on the systematic slaughter of dugongs, turtles and dolphins, in the absence of the Queensland government doing so? This in particular relates to the tragic slaughter of turtles and dugongs for commercial purposes in violation of Australian and state laws in much of far North Queensland. In particular, has the dugong task force, a joint federal and state body, been re-formed and, if so, who is on the committee and what are their qualifications? And, if so, how many meetings has the re-formed task force had? Would the minister consider the inclusion of dugong and turtle protection campaigners Colin Riddell and Bob Irwin on such a committee either now or in the future?

The third area of administration relates to the protection of the koala. This is a very simple question: will the minister consider a regional listing process for the koala under the EPBC Act and, in particular, is there a possibility of establishing a regional threatened species status for the koala within South-East Queensland?

The final questions relate to heritage. Has the minister relegated the Heritage Division to the status of a branch? Has the minister failed to renew the Distinctively Australian program? Does the failure to renew the program threaten the ability of the government to fulfil its heritage obligations under EPBC Act? If not, why not?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Vamvakinou ): Is the minister happy for the member for Gippsland to also ask questions before he responds to the member for Flinders?

Mr Burke: Always.