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Thursday, 12 May 2011
Page: 2558

East Timor Regional Processing Centre

(Question No. 551)

Senator Johnston asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 25 March 2011:

(1) Have any departmental officials been appointed to work on the Government's proposed East Timor Regional Processing Centre; if so, how many.

(2) How many hours have been spent by departmental officials working on this proposal.

(3) To date, what is the total cost for the department in contributing to the development and promotion of this proposal, including, but not limited to, staffing, travel and accommodation expenses.

(4) How many representations have departmental officials made to regional governments on this proposal, and what were the dates of each representation.

(5) How many written briefings on the proposed processing centre has the Minister received from the department, and did any of these briefings raise a concern that the proposal was having a negative effect on Australia's relations with other governments in the region.

Senator Conroy: The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The issue is one of a number of issues handled by the Ambassador for People Smuggling and the People Smuggling, Refugees and Immigration section in DFAT.

(2) Departmental officials do not record the time spent working on individual projects.

(3) The department does not separately record the cost of contributing to the development and promotion of the East Timor regional assessment centre proposal.

(4) Departmental officials in Canberra and overseas have made a large number of representations to regional governments on this proposal, including in the course of discussions on other issues. No log is kept of the number and dates of representations.

(5) Three, and no.