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Notice given 18 September 2001

1031  Senator Allison: To move—

(1) That the Senate, having regard to:

(a) the enormous health disaster represented by tobacco;

(b) the rising costs of tobacco diseases, conservatively estimated at $12.7 billion (1992), that are borne by governments, individuals and businesses, including health care costs, lost productivity, absenteeism, and social security payments;

(c) the availability of evidence that the tobacco industry in other countries, including parent companies to Australian manufacturers may have engaged in:

(i) misleading and deceptive conduct to downplay the adverse health effects of smoking and the addictiveness of nicotine, and

(ii) misleading, deceptive and unconscionable conduct in relation to the marketing of tobacco products to children; and

(d) the desirability of preventing or reducing loss or damage suffered or likely to be suffered by such conduct, and of compensation being available for any loss and damage suffered or likely to be suffered by that conduct;

resolves that there be laid on the table, no later than 30 April 2002, a report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on the performance of its functions under the Trade Practices Act 1974 , with respect to:

(e) the outcome of ACCC investigations into the conduct of Australian tobacco companies and their overseas parent and affiliate companies in relation to any such misleading, deceptive or unconscionable conduct;

(f) whether documents publicly released during the course of tobacco litigation in the United States of America contain evidence of anti-competitive behaviour or breaches of Australian law;

(g) the adequacy of current labelling laws under the Trade Practices (Consumer Product Information Standards) (Tobacco) Regulations to fully inform consumers of the risk that they are exposed to;

(h) the extent of loss or damage caused, or likely to be caused, by the conduct referred to in paragraph (e) in Australia;

(i) the extent to which the tobacco industry may be made liable to compensate for that loss or damage, or the extent to which that loss or damage may be prevented or reduced; and

(j) the potential for tobacco litigation in Australia, including for compensation and remedial action, in respect of that conduct.

(2) That, in preparing a report under paragraph (1), the ACCC is to consider:

(a) the importance of this issue to Australian public health;

(b) the impact of the costs of treating tobacco-related disease in Australia and the associated productivity losses borne by Australian businesses;

(c) the desirability of ensuring that the tobacco industry is made accountable under the Trade Practices Act in respect of such conduct, that any loss or damage suffered or likely to be suffered by that conduct be prevented or reduced and that any persons harmed or likely to be harmed by that conduct obtain appropriate compensation; and

(d) the potential for overseas parent and affiliate companies being made liable for such loss or damage; and

indicate in its report the action it has taken, and the action it proposes to take, with regard to the matters upon which it is required to report.

Notice of motion altered on 20 September 2001 pursuant to standing order 77.

1032  Senator Allison: To move—That the Senate—

(a) notes:

(i) that a National Store Project discussion paper regarding the location for the disposal of radioactive waste was released in July 2001 by the Department of Industry, Science and Resources,

(ii) the discussion paper was advertised nationally, inviting submissions by the closing date of 31 August 2001,

(iii) hundreds of submissions to the discussion paper were ‘returned to sender’ as a result of the wrong address being provided in the national advertising campaign,

(iv) many more submissions may have been lost altogether as a result of this blunder, and

(v) that the Minister provided a two-week extension for submissions to those who contacted the department, but did not notify interested parties or readvertise for submissions; and

(b) calls on the Minister to:

(i) readvertise nationally for public submissions to the National Store Project discussion paper with the correct address,

(ii) extend the deadline for public comment in order to ensure that all interested parties may resubmit their comments, and

(iii) directly contact those organisations and individuals expected to have an interest in the matter of the disposal of radioactive waste, in order to ensure that those organisations and individuals are aware of the new public comment period.

1033  Senator Allison: To move—That the Senate—

(a) notes that the Victorian State Government:

(i) proposes to legislate to exempt the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in Melbourne from planning, environment, heritage, building and coastal management Acts, and residential tenancy and local government controls, and

(ii) does not propose to adopt the ecologically-sustainable development (ESD) guidelines used by the Sydney Olympics so successfully;

(b) notes that the venues and village are likely to all be constructed on parkland;

(c) reminds the Bracks Government that it promised it would be democratic and accountable in government and not bypass the checks and balances as its predecessor had done; and

(d) calls on the Victorian State Government to:

(i) ensure there is no net loss of parkland in the Commonwealth Games preparation, and

(ii) implement the ESD guidelines for the Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

1034  Senator Ridgeway: To move—That the Senate—

(a) notes with great sadness that an Aboriginal man died in custody on 17 September 2001 in a Queensland gaol, nearly two months to the day since the previous Aboriginal death in custody in Western Australia on 18 June 2001;

(b) acknowledges that:

(i) whereas Indigenous people in New South Wales were eight times more likely than the general population to be imprisoned in 1991, this figure rose to almost ten times more likely in 1998,

(ii) this over-representation of Indigenous Australians in our nation’s gaols stems initially from their higher rate of appearance at court, which is amplified at the point of sentencing, with Indigenous offenders sentenced to prison at almost twice the rate of non-Indigenous offenders, and

(iii) this situation is contrary to the recommendations of the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, which emphasised the need to reduce the disproportionate levels of Aboriginal people in custody, and to use incarceration as a measure of last resort; and

(c) calls on the Government:

(i) to re-affirm its commitment to addressing the unacceptably high levels of social, economic and cultural disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal Peoples and Torres Strait Islanders in recognition that this disadvantage contributes to Indigenous over-representation in our gaols, and

(ii) in consultation with Aboriginal Peoples and Torres Strait Islanders and their representative organisations, as well as state and territory governments, to commit to the development of a national strategy to reduce the rate at which Indigenous persons appear in court and the rate at which they are taken into custody.

1035  Senator Allison: To move—That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) the Victorian State Government recently rejected the petition of mercy for Heather Osland, who is serving a fourteen and a half year jail term for the murder of her abusive husband despite calls from the Release Heather Osland Group and 30 000 Victorians to do so, and

(ii) 330 000 Australian women reported to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 1996 that they had experienced physical violence inflicted by their current partners and 1 070 000 by previous partners;

(b) on behalf of women who suffer brutality at the hands of their partners, condemns the Victorian State Government for its lack of compassion in this case;

(c) calls on state and territory governments to reform the law so that:

(i) ongoing and persistent abuse can be recognised as self defence in the consideration of murder charges, and

(ii) charges may be laid for physical violence with or without the involvement of the victim of abuse; and

(d) calls on the Federal Government to increase its efforts to protect women and children from abuse.