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Notice given 23 May 2002

341  Senator Greig: To ask the Minister for Defence—

(1) Can the Minister confirm that the department intends to increase the area of the Lancelin Defence Training Area (DTA) by acquiring an additional 36 600 hectares of land, comprising vacant crown land, freehold private property and some pastoral leases.

(2) What is the status of the land-use agreement that the department has entered into relating to the ‘permissive occupancy area’, which extends from the north-east side of the Lancelin DTA adjacent to the naval gunnery to north of Nilgen Reserve, which has been described by the department as part of the existing training area.

(3) Is the land-use agreement renewable, ongoing or is it due to expire; if so, when.

(4) What is the reason for the haste of the department in pushing through the formal environmental assessment process.

(5) Will the proposal be considered or assessed under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 or a previous Act.

(6) What period of notice was given to stakeholders in the area directly affected by the proposal.

(7) How is the additional land justified, given the existing area is already 17 300 hectares.

(8) Is the Minister aware that the land involved: (a) is fragile coastal land and is subject to erosion if not managed properly; and (b) contains valuable wetlands, rare flora and fauna, underground caves and a number of heritage sites that need protection.

(9) (a) Have more stable training areas at Northam or Bindoon been considered; and (b) has the possibility of relocating training areas to a more remote area where they will not cause serious impact on the environment been considered.

(10) Is it the case that the department will prepare environmental management plans and other management strategies only after it secures the land.

(11) Is any of the land listed on the Register of the National Estate.

343  Senator Evans: To ask the Minister for Defence—With reference to the response to question no. 13 asked in the February 2002 estimates hearing of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee, which provided the daily full cost at sea for HMAS Manoora , Kanimbla and Tobruk :

(1) Can the same daily full costs at sea be provided for: (a) the Anzac and FFG frigates; (b) the Success and Westralia ; and (c) the Fremantle class patrol boats.

(2) Can the equivalent average full costs for operating F-18s, 707s, and P-3s be provided, that is, the average daily full costs of these aircraft when deployed on operations.

345  Senator Evans: To ask the Minister for Defence—

(1) Have any Hawk lead-in fighters commenced training operations at RAAF Williamtown or the Salt Ash Weapons Range (SAWR) yet; if so: (a) in which of these two locations have the Hawks been used; (b) when did they first arrive; and (c) how many are there.

(2) (a) On how many days in each financial year since 1995-96 has the SAWR been used; and (b) how many days has the SAWR been used during the 2001-02 financial year to date.

(3) Does the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) have any policy on what is the maximum noise acceptable for aircraft; if so, can a copy of any policy document be provided.

(4) (a) What method of noise testing is most often used for RAAF aircraft; (b) what method was used to test the Hawks; (c) if the methods are different in any respect, why was the different aspect and/or different method chosen to test the Hawks.

(5) If the policy identified in (3) specifies different acceptable noise levels for different zoning used, what are these differences, for example, what are the RAAF guidelines on the maximum and desirable decibel levels for high-density, medium-density and low-density residential areas, etc.

(6) Was any consideration given to the noisiness of the Hawk lead-in fighter when the proposal was made by the RAAF to purchase them as replacements for the Macchi; if so, at what stage of the process was their noise considered (for example, in the first 2 months after the proposal was formulated, 2 weeks before it was put to the Minister, etc.).

(7) What is the noise range of Macchi aircraft used at Williamtown and SAWR; please provide both the minimum and maximum decibels recorded at any time during the Macchi’s use in both of these locations.

(8) (a) What is the possible noise range of Hawk lead-in fighters (in other words the minimum and maximum decibels at which they are capable of operating); and (b) what were the recorded noise levels of the Hawks at Williamtown and SAWR over the duration of their activities in either of these places (please provide the maximum, minimum and average noise recorded and specify the period over which the average is calculated).

(9) How often, and from which point or points in Williamtown and SAWR, have Hawk noised levels been recorded (please provide the dates and time of day and night the noise was gauged).

(10) On any of the occasions set out in the answer to (9), was there more than one RAAF aircraft operating in the area and was the noise of other aircraft also recorded; if so: (a) what type of aircraft was operated simultaneously or overlapping with a Hawk; (b) what are the maximum and average decibel levels of such aircraft; and (c) can a copy of the noise records of such aircraft over the relevant period be provided.

(11) Were any of the noise tests conducted on the Hawk for the purpose of data-collection for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prepared for introduction into service of the Hawk at Williamtown and SAWR conducted at less than full throttle.

(12) Was a toxicologist asked to assess the physiological effects on humans resulting from exposure to loud noise as part of the preparation of the draft EIS or, alternatively, if anyone was requested to assess this effect, and the person was not a toxicologist, what formal qualifications did this person have.

(13) (a) How many flights in total have all the Hawk aircraft taken in the Williamtown and SAWR area since their arrival; (b) from what starting date is this figure calculated; and (c) how is the Williamtown/SAWR area defined.

(14) Can the figure in (13) be broken down into: (a) the total number of flights made by each of the Hawks since their commencement at RAAF Williamtown; and (b) the number made by each for each month since their commencement.

(15) Using the definition of the Williamtown/SAWR area adopted in (13), is more than one of the Hawks ever used in the area at the same time; if so, approximately how often, in percentage terms (for example, 75 per cent of the time).

(16) Is the Hawk lead-in fighter 10 decibels noisier than the Macchi.

(17) When was the decision made to prepare an EIS.

(18) Was the EIS prepared in response to community concerns rather than as a legal requirement.

(19) How many days did the draft EIS take to prepare (including as a separate figure what dates the data relied upon in the EIS was collected).

(20) Was any monitoring conducted of fuel contamination levels in rainwater tanks in the Williamtown/SAWR area for the purpose of preparing the EIS; if so, can a copy of the study be provided; if not, why not.

(21) Does the RAAF have water delivered to the SAWR, whereas in the past it has used water tanks on or near the SAWR for drinking water; if so, when did the water tanks cease to be used.

(22) (a) When was the last time atmospheric tests were conducted in the Williamtown/SAWR area; and (b) what did the results show.

(23) What is the lowest level that Macchi have flown at in the Williamtown/SAWR area (please give the answer in feet or metres and give an approximate answer if there is no completely accurate data).

(24) What is the lowest level that Hawks have flown, and are intended to fly, during future training exercises at Williamtown and SAWR (please give the answer in feet or metres and give an approximate answer if there is no completely accurate data).

(25) (a) What types of training operation are conducted by the RAAF in the SAWR (for example, live-firing, bombing, fuel-dumping etc.); and (b) what percentage of all RAAF activities in the SAWR does each of the activities in (a) represent (approximately if no precise figures are available).

(26) How many square kilometres does the RAAF need to conduct all of the operations described in the answer to (19).

(27) Has the RAAF ever conducted any of the activities intended to be conducted within the SAWR outside the gazetted area; if so, when and why.

(28) On average, how many litres of fuel do the Hawks burn per hour and how many litres of fuel do the Macchis burn per hour.

(29) Can the Minister confirm that there are no limitations on RAAF bombing activity at SAWR during high-danger fire periods.

(30) Have there been any back-burning or firewall-creation activities on the RAAF base at Williamtown or the SAWR.

(31) (a) Do Hawks eject the cases for 30 millimetre cannon shells; and (b) how many shells is a Hawk designed to carry on a practice operation.

(32) Have any phone calls made by members of the local RAAF Consultative Committee to the RAAF Williamtown base since June 2001 been electronically recorded (by audiotape or otherwise).