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Notice given 6 September 2005

1139  Senator Stott Despoja: To ask the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs—

(1) Can the Minister confirm that the department has not paid at least four bridging visa recipients $100 per week as promised; if so, why have the payments not been made.

(2) Can the Minister confirm that a mother and her son, who were released from Baxter Detention Centre on a bridging visa E one month ago, have not received Medicare or Centrelink benefits.

(3) Why have the remaining two Sri Lankan detainees in Baxter Detention Centre, who were invited to apply for the Removal Pending Bridging Visa, not been released despite signing more than 2 months ago on 28 June 2005, given the fact that the first Sri Lankans were released on 14 July 2005.

1140  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads—With reference to the article in The West Australian of 30 August 2005 entitled, ‘High hopes for further Roads to Recovery funding’:

(1) Does the Minister agree with the reported statement attributed to Mr Anderson that a third or fourth round of Roads to Recovery funding may be required to address a national backlog of road work.

(2) (a) What representations has the Minister had from Mr Anderson regarding a third or fourth round of Roads to Recovery funding to address the national backlog of road work; (b) what was the nature of each representation; and (c) on what date and in what form were these representations received.

 

 1141  Senator Bartlett: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Heritage—With reference to Burrup Peninsula:

(1) Can the Minister confirm that on 10 March 2005, the Australian Heritage Council (AHC) was given an extension of time for it to complete its assessment of the national heritage values of the Dampier Archipelago Rock Art Site and Burrup Peninsula, Islands of the Dampier Archipelago and Dampier Coast until 4 September 2005.

(2) Can the Minister confirm that the reasons for the extension included ‘delays in submission of reports by consultants and the need to respect customary law time for male traditional owners’.

(3) Have the consultants, referred to in the Minister’s reasons for the extension, submitted their reports; if so, when were they submitted; if not, when is it expected that the reports will be submitted.

(4) Which consultants were commissioned to prepare the reports referred to in the Minister’s reasons for the extension.

(5) Were the consultants referred to in the Minister’s reasons for the extension directed only to evaluate whether the places have national heritage values; if not, what other issues were the consultants asked to address.

(6) Have any other consultants been commissioned to undertake work for either the department or the AHC in relation to these places in the past 3 years; if so, can details be provided of the names of the consultants and the nature of the work commissioned.

(7) Has the customary law time for male traditional owners referred to in the Minister’s reasons for the extension ended; if so, when.

(8) What is the status of the consultations with the traditional owners.

(9) Can the Minister confirm that on 25 August 2005, the AHC was given a further extension of time to complete its assessment of the national heritage values of the Dampier Archipelago Rock Art Site and Burrup Peninsula, Islands of the Dampier Archipelago and Dampier Coast until 4 September 2006.

(10) Can the Minister confirm that the reasons for the extension included a need for further consultation processes and evaluation of the case for national heritage listing.

(11) Can details be provided of the consultations that the AHC and the department have carried out in relation to the assessment of the national heritage values of these places, including consultations carried out on behalf of the AHC or the department.

(12) Can details be provided of the consultations that the AHC and the department intend to undertake or commission for the purpose of the assessment of the national heritage values of these places, including the names of the people and organisations that will be consulted and what they will be consulted about.

(13) Can details be provided of all outstanding work that needs to be completed in order for the AHC to finalise and submit its assessment of the national heritage values of these places.

(14) Has the AHC, the department or anybody acting on behalf of the AHC or the department, carried out any consultations or discussions, including meetings and telephone conversations, for the purpose of the assessment about any issues that do not relate to the question of whether the places have national heritage values; if so, can details be provided of the consultations or discussions including: (a) the names of the people and organisations involved; (b) when the consultations or discussions occurred; (c) what was discussed on each occasion; and (d) where appropriate, details of the people who carried out the consultations or discussions on behalf of the AHC or the department.

(15) Has anybody acting on behalf of, or under the directions of, the AHC, the department or the Government, other than the consultants referred to in (1) above, carried out any consultations or discussions, including meetings and telephone conversations, with companies who have interests in the Burrup Peninsula region, people acting on behalf of companies with interests in the Burrup Peninsula region, the Government of Western Australia or other federal government agencies concerning the proposed or possible inclusion of these places on the National Heritage List in the past 3 years; if so, can details be provided of these consultations or discussions including: (a) the names of the people and organisations involved; (b) when the consultations or discussions occurred; (c) what was discussed on each occasion; and (d) details of the people who carried out the consultations or discussions on behalf of the AHC, the department or the Government.

(16) Will the Minister take the heritage values of Burrup Peninsula into account when making his decision about the Woodside Energy Pty Ltd Pluto Gas Project.

(17) Has the Government of Western Australia, Woodside Energy Pty Ltd, or any other company with interests in the Burrup Peninsula region, been given any assurances by the Minister, the AHC, the department, or anybody acting on behalf of the Minister, the AHC or the department that the places will not be included on the National Heritage List until controlled action decisions or approval decisions have been made under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 in relation to projects concerning the Burrup Peninsula.

1142  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources—With reference to the Prime Minister’s voluntary target of biofuel production by 2010:

(1) How does the projected consumption of transport fuel in 2010, on which the 2 per cent biofuel target was based to arrive at a total of 350 million litres (ML), compare with the latest projections.

(2) What would be the 2 per cent biofuel target if calculated on those latest projections.

(3) Will the Government consider raising the target to that figure; if not, why not.

(4) Does the Government agree with AgForce Grains Ltd’s opinion that the 350ML target is inadequate to establish E10 petrol/ethanol blended petrol as a mainstream product.

(5) Does the Government agree that: (a) the 350ML target will be met before 2010; and (b) there will be no new developments of ethanol production to come on stream without an increase in the overall target and/or an obligation imposed on petrol companies to sell ethanol-blended petrol.

(6) Will the Government consider a mandatory renewable energy target-style system for ethanol; if not, why not.

(7) Is the Government aware that the state of Minnesota in the United States of America has met its 10 per cent ethanol mandate and will mandate 20 per cent by 2012 if that target is not met by voluntary measures.

1143  Senator Allison: To ask the Special Minister of State—With reference to biofuels:

(1) Will the Government set a target for Commonwealth fleet vehicles to use ethanol-blended petrol and biodiesel, as the Queensland Government has done; if not, why not; if so, when.

(2) Why has the Government not made available to members and senators, fuel cards for independent petrol retailers who sell ethanol-blended petrol, despite requests to do so.

1144  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to biofuels: Will the Government consider amending the Fuel Standard (Petrol) Determination 2001, which bans the sale of ethanol blends of more than 10 per cent, in light of the availability of vehicles designed to run on 85 per cent ethanol and the many flexible fuel vehicles now on the market which are designed to run on much higher levels of ethanol than is currently permitted in Australia; if not, why not.

1145  Senator Webber: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer—

(1) Has the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) referred difficult tax avoidance cases against legal professionals to the Law Council of Australia.

(2) Is it true that approximately 90 per cent of tax debt in the legal profession is attributed to tax avoidance schemes.

(3) What has the ATO done to address the prevalence of these schemes.

(4) Why has the ATO allowed late tax returns to slide, given the obvious connection to tax avoidance schemes.

(5) Has the ATO investigated tax avoidance in Australia’s judiciary; if so, what were the results.

(6) When will the ATO recover the taxpayer’s money from recalcitrant legal professionals.

1146  Senator Webber: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Education, Science and Training—

(1) Was the block of land at Lot 61, Leach Street, Marmion, Western Australia, purchased by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in 1975 on the understanding that it would be returned to the Wanneroo Shire Council should it no longer be required for marine research.

(2) Did the CSIRO sell the land in 2003 to a property developer; if so, why did the CSIRO sell the land in contravention of its agreement to return the land to the local council.

(3) What mechanisms, if any, are in place to ensure that the CSIRO does not renege on other agreements.

1147  Senator Murray: To ask the Minister representing the Treasurer—With reference to the statement on page 40 of the Treasury’s Economic Roundup , Winter 2005, that ‘many low income earners pay very little tax, if any at all’:

(1) With respect to the tax data for the latest financial year available, and with respect to all those earning less than the tax threshold of $21 601, can details be provided for: (a) the total number of individual income tax payers, disaggregated by gender; (b) the total income tax paid; (c) the total tax deductions claimed, disaggregated by type of claim; and (d) the total tax rebates paid out.

(2) Can details be provided, indicating the average time lag between income tax paid and rebates received.

1148  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) Can the Minister clarify a recent statement that the Government will ensure services to customers in areas of ‘market failure’ after full privatisation of Telstra.

(2) Are ‘areas of market failure’ determined by the Government to be in: (a) rural; (b) remote; or (c) metropolitan, areas.

(3) What is the Government’s definition of ‘market failure’.

(4) To what extent and how does the Government consider that the privatisation of the Telstra environment will facilitate competition in areas of ‘market failure’.

(5) Has the Government accepted that areas of ‘market failure’, however defined, are never likely to attract competition.

(6) Does the Government agree that the commitment to ensure services to customers in areas of ‘market failure’ provides a perverse incentive for Telstra to: (a) withhold or diminish services in these areas; and (b) impede efforts by competitors to set up service provision in these areas.

(7) What is the extent of ‘market failure’ that has been caused by Telstra’s prevention of other businesses from setting up services.

(8) How will the Government deal with the well-documented cases of Telstra pushing small competitors out of business when they try to establish competing businesses, particularly in regional areas in, for example, Crookwell, Bungendore and Albury-Wodonga.

(9) How will the Government deal with excessive regulatory gaming by Telstra, whereby it effectively delays or prevents access by competitors to declared services.

(10) What is the Government’s estimation of the effect of the proposed additional regulation on: (a) Telstra’s annual profits; and (b) Telstra’s share price.

(11) Does the Government have a conflict of interest in protecting the shareholders from the cost of additional regulation and ensuring consumers receive the benefits of modern telecommunications infrastructure and services; if so, to what extent.

(12) How will the Government reconcile the mutually exclusive objective of providing for effective regulation of telecommunications and maximising Telstra’s share price.

(13) How will the Government ensure that the operational separation model for Telstra creates an incentive for Telstra to treat its retail arm and its competitors equitably.

(14) How will the Government ensure that Telstra does not operate its retail arm at a loss by charging high wholesale prices to itself and competitors.

(15) Will the Government give the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) divestiture powers in case operational separation fails.

(16) What were the reasons for structural separation of Telstra not being considered in the package.

(17) Does the Government agree that the fact that Telstra is vertically integrated is the single most important factor in Australia being ranked 21st in broadband penetration in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Communications Outlook, 2005.

(18) How does Australia compare with other OECD countries in terms of the rate of penetration of broadband, as opposed to the current rate of uptake.

(19) Does the Government acknowledge that Australia’s rate of uptake is relatively high because it starts from a very low base compared with other OECD countries.

(20) How does the Government’s definition of ‘broadband’ differ from other countries in the OECD.

(21) What will the Government do about the obvious weakness of the anti-competitive conduct regime in the Trade Practices Act as demonstrated by the ACCCs experience with the Telstra broadband pricing competition notice.

(22) What will the Government do to make it easier for Telstra’s competitors to get access to reasonably-priced backhaul.

(23) How will the Government ensure that people in regional areas where there is no competition receive better broadband services as standards improve in metropolitan areas.

(24) What safeguards will the Government put in place to ensure that money put aside for regional areas will: (a) not simply fall back into Telstra’s hands so as to cement its monopoly in regional areas; and (b) be applied equitably and not directed to Coalition or marginal electorates.