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Notice given 8 August 2002

532  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry—

(1) Does the Minister support the National Drought Strategy’s underlying principle of promoting self-reliance and risk management capability.

(2) Has the Minister, or his office, received a copy of the review of the Climate Variability in Agriculture Program (CVAP), prepared by Hassall & Associates and released in April 2002.

(3) When did the Minister, or his office, receive a copy of the report.

(4) Has the Minister made a formal response to the report.

(5) Is the Minister aware the report recommends the extension of funding for the CVAP with a focus on the adoption of climate variability risk management and CVAP tools.

(6) Is the Minister aware the report finds that, without additional funding for the purpose of refining and promoting the adoption of current CVAP tools, there is the prospect that the return on funds already invested in the program will not be fully realised.

(7) Does the Minister agree with the view of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry that climatic risk is the most significant uncertainty facing Australian farmers, and CVAP has a major role to play in funding and promoting better forecasting systems and better ways of using those forecasts.

(8) What funding has been allocated to the CVAP through the Agriculture Advancing Australia initiative in the following financial years: (a) 1997-98; (b) 1998-99; (c) 1999-2000; (d) 2000-01; (e) 2001-02; and (f) 2002-03.

533  Senator Brown: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade—

(1) What steps, if any, does the Government intend to take towards giving a commitment: (a) to begin, without delay, a campaign of informing the Australian public, in practical terms, about the implications of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) treaty; and (b) to maintain the public dissemination of information as stages in the completion of GATS occur.

(2) (a) Is the Minister aware of the view that, while Australia is a signatory to the GATS treaty the threat perceived as implicit to the integrity and sovereignty of national Parliament is paramount; and (b) how can the Government sustain its decision to continue its membership of GATS, when foreign investors propose to sue the Government, through the World Trade Organization, on the grounds of claims that government legislation or regulations were ‘more burdensome that necessary’, as stated on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s program, Background Briefing , on 23 June 2002.