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Tuesday, 16 September 2003
Page: 15359

Senator Brown asked the Minister representing the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources and the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 14 August 2003:

(1) Has the Minister or have his officers discussed the Rio Tinto Foundation for a Sustainable Minerals Industry with Dr Robin Batterham at any time; if so, can the dates on which the discussions took place and a summary of the issues discussed be provided.

(2) On what date and in what form was the proposal to establish the Rio Tinto Foundation first communicated to the Government or to its Strategic Investment Coordinator.

(3) (a) On what date was the Advisory Board of the Rio Tinto Foundation established; (b) When did the Government appoint its representatives.

Senator Minchin (Minister for Finance and Administration) —The Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) Answers have previously been provided regarding all communications between Dr Batterham and the Government, including its Public Service representatives, in relation to the Rio Tinto Foundation for a Sustainable Minerals Industry (Questions 1331 - 1333 tabled 16 June 2003). The Government's representative, Mr John Ryan, obviously discusses Rio Tinto Foundation matters with Dr Batterham and other Advisory Board members at Advisory Board Meetings. The Advisory Board meets quarterly: 2 December 2002; 21 March 2003; and 26 June 2003 to date. Matters discussed at Foundation meetings are either process matters in relation to the operation of the Foundation such as determination of meeting dates, reporting protocols and budgets or the consideration of project presentations and proposals.

(2) Again, the response to questions 1331- 1333 advised that the Rio Tinto Foundation was established as a joint initiative of Comalco and the Commonwealth. The proposal on the delivery method for the research and development component of the incentive was submitted by Rio Tinto in July 2001 during ongoing negotiations for the total incentive package.

(3) (a) Comalco confirmed the membership of the Advisory Board, other than the Commonwealth representative on 26 June 2002, at this point it was agreed that for all intents and purposes the Foundation was operational. The Charter and Rules were finalised by the Commonwealth and Rio Tinto on 25 October 2002. The Foundation was launched on 1 November 2002 and the Advisory Board held its first meeting on 2 December 2002. (b) The Commonwealth nominated its representative, John Ryan on 17 July 2002.