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Monday, 6 December 2004
Page: 44

Senator Knowles to move on the next day of sitting:

That the Community Affairs Legislation Committee be authorised to hold a public meeting during the sitting of the Senate on Thursday, 9 December 2004, from 10.30 am, to take evidence on a matter relating to the Department of Health and Ageing.

Senator Stott Despoja to move on the next day of sitting:

That the following matters be referred to the Legal and Constitutional References Committee for inquiry and report by 30 June 2005:

(a) the overall effectiveness and appropriateness of the Privacy Act 1988 as a means by which to protect the privacy of Australians, with particular reference to:

(i) international comparisons,

(ii) the capacity of the current legislative regime to respond to new and emerging technologies which have implications for privacy, including:

(a) `Smart Card' technology and the potential for this to be used to establish a national identification regime,

(b) biometric imaging data,

(c) genetic testing and the potential disclosure and discriminatory use of such information, and

(d) microchips which can be implanted in human beings (for example, as recently authorised by the United States Food and Drug Administration), and

(iii) any legislative changes that may help to provide more comprehensive protection or improve the current regime in any way;

(b) the effectiveness of the PrivacyAmendment(PrivateSector)Act2000 in extending the privacy scheme to the private sector, and any changes which may enhance its effectiveness; and

(c) the resourcing of the Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner and whether current levels of funding and the powers available to the Federal Privacy Commissioner enable her to properly fulfil her mandate.

Senator Greig to move on the next day of sitting:

That the Senate—

(a) recalls that on 2 December 2002 a proposed agreement between Australia and the United States of America (US), pursuant to which Australia would agree not to surrender US nationals to the International Criminal Court without the consent of the US (the proposed agreement) was referred to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties for inquiry and report;

(b) notes correspondence from the secretary of the committee to the Clerk of the Senate, dated 16 July 2003, which:

(i) stated that `as far as the Committee is aware, there is no such proposed agreement' and that it had `therefore decided to defer commencing the inquiry into the matter referred until the text of such an agreement is made available to the Committee', and

(ii) however, acknowledged that `the Committee is empowered to inquire into any question relating to a treaty or other international agreement, whether or not negotiated to completion, referred to the Committee by either House';

(c) further notes:

(i) the report on ABC Radio's PMprogram of 28 August 2002, that the US had written to the Australian Government, requesting it to enter into the proposed agreement and that, according to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Government was `sympathetic' to the request,

(ii) the report on Network Nine's Sunday program of 8 September 2002, in which the then Attorney-General indicated that the US had requested Australia to enter into the proposed agreement and that the Australian Government had no objection to the proposed agreement, and

(iii) evidence from Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials on 19 February 2004 that negotiations with the US were ongoing and that, at that time, the most recent meeting had been in December 2003; and

(d) recalls that on 30 August 2004, it again referred the proposed agreement to the committee for inquiry and report by 30 April 2005;

(e) notes that:

(i) the committee had not commenced the inquiry prior to the proroguing of the 40th Parliament, and

(ii) the reference lapsed with the proroguing of the 40th Parliament; and

(f) refers the proposed agreement, with particular reference to the following matters, to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties for inquiry and report by 30 June 2005:

(i) whether the proposed agreement would breach the terms, or be otherwise inconsistent with the spirit, of the Rome Statute which Australia has ratified,

(ii) the effect of the proposed agreement, either itself or in conjunction with similar agreements between the United States and other states, on the ability of the International Criminal Court to effectively fulfil its intended function,

(iii) the implications of any extradition provisions in the proposed agreement and whether the proposed agreement would require the re-negotiation of existing extradition agreements to which Australia is a party, and

(iv) the implications of the proposed agreement with respect to Australia's national interest.

Senator Hutchins to move on the next day of sitting:

That the following matters be referred to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee for inquiry and report by 15 September 2005:

(a) Australia's economic relationship with China, with particular reference to:

(i) economic developments in China over the past decade and their implications for Australia and the East Asian region,

(ii) recent trends in trade between Australia and China,

(iii) the Australia-China Trade and Economic Framework and possibility of a free trade agreement with China,

(iv) ongoing barriers and impediments to trade with China for Australian businesses,

(v) existing strengths of Australian business in China and the scope for improvement through assistance via Commonwealth agencies and Australian Government programs, and

(vi) opportunities for strengthening and deepening commercial links with China in key export sectors;

(b) Australia's political relationship with China, with particular reference to:

(i) China's emerging influence across East Asia and the South Pacific,

(ii) opportunities for strengthening the deepening political, social and cultural links between Australia and China, and

(iii) political, social and cultural considerations that could impede the development of strong and mutually beneficial relationships between Australia and China; and

(c) Australian responses to China's emergence as a regional power, with particular reference to:

(i) China's relationships in East Asia, including in particular the Korean Peninsula and Japan,

(ii) the strategic consequences of a China-ASEAN free trade agreement, and

(iii) China's expanded activities across the South West Pacific.

Senator Payne to move on the next day of sitting:

That the time for the presentation of the report of the Legal and Constitutional Legislation Committee on the Disability Discrimination Amendment (Education Standards) Bill 2004 be extended to 8 December 2004.

Senator Ludwig to move on the next day of sitting:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that on 7 December 2004 the Jewish festival of Hanukkah begins at sunset; and

(b) wishes a happy Hanukkah to the Australian Jewish community.

Senator Ludwig to move on the next day of sitting:

That the Senate—

(a) condemns Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore for inappropriately using multiculturalism as a shield for stripping back Christmas celebrations;

(b) notes:

(i) the damage that is done to multiculturalism by this kind of misguided action,

(ii) multiculturalism does not mean abandoning your own beliefs or culture out of deference to imagined offence to a different culture, and

(iii) that Christmas itself is multicultural, celebrated as it is across Europe, North and South America, parts of Asia, Africa, the Pacific and wherever Christians may be;

(c) embraces the spirit of Christmas and encourages the people of Australia, whatever their beliefs, to practise the Christmas message of peace and goodwill to all; and

(d) wishes a safe and merry Christmas to the people of Australia.

Senator Ludwig to move on the next day of sitting:

That the Senate—

(a) notes and affirms the recent action of officers from the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs and the Australian Federal Police in raiding places suspected of manufacturing counterfeit passports;

(b) notes that the forgery of passports is a serious crime;

(c) rejects claims from the Refugee Action Coalition that alleged manufacture of these passports was somehow justified;

(d) in particular, totally rejects claims by the Refugee Action Coalition that such actions have any similarity with those who broke the law to free Jews from Nazi Germany; and

(e) notes the hurt and damage that such absurd claims do to the cause of genuine refugee activists who abide by the law.

Senator Murray to move on the next day of sitting:

(1) That the matter of unfair dismissal be referred to the Employment, Workplace Relations and Education References Committee for inquiry and report by 14 June 2005, with the following terms of reference:

(a) to examine:

(i) the international experience concerning:

(a) unfair dismissal laws, and

(b) the relationship between unfair dismissal laws and employment growth in the small business sector,

(ii) the provisions of federal and state unfair dismissal laws and the extent to which they adversely impact on small businesses, including:

(a) the number of applications against small businesses in each year since 1 July 1995 under federal and state unfair dismissal laws, and

(b) the total number of businesses, small businesses and employees that are subject to federal and state unfair dismissal laws,

(iii) evidence cited by the Government that exempting small business from federal unfair dismissal laws will create 77 000 jobs in Australia (or any other figure previously cited),

(iv) the relationship, if any, between previous changes to Australian unfair dismissal laws and employment growth in Australia,

(v) the extent to which previously reported small business concerns with unfair dismissal laws related to survey questions which were misleading, incomplete or inaccurate,

(vi) the extent to which small businesses rate concerns with unfair dismissal laws against concerns on other matters that impact negatively on successfully managing a small business, and

(vii) the extent to which small businesses are provided with current, reliable and easily accessible information and advice on federal and state unfair dismissal laws; and

(b) to recommend policies, procedures and mechanisms that could be established to reduce the perceived negative impacts that unfair dismissal laws may have on employers, without adversely affecting the rights of employees.

(2) That the committee be authorised, with the approval of the President, to commission independent research, as desirable or necessary, to investigate each of these terms of reference.