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Notice given 9 December 2002

999  Senator Sherry: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations—

(1) (a) Why has the Government listed a contingent liability of $104 million relating to the Special Employee Entitlements Scheme for Ansett Group Employees in the 2002-03 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook; and (b) on what specific future events is this liability contingent.

(2) (a) What is the amount of the contingent revenue relating to the scheme referred to in the mid-year outlook; and (b) on what specific future events is the revenue contingent

(3) Why was the scheme not listed at all as a contingent liability, quantifiable or unquantifiable, in the 2002-03 Budget papers.

(4) Why has the scheme only become a contingent liability since the 2002-03 Budget.

1000  Senator Brown: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Heritage—

(1) Given that Lake Cowal in central-western New South Wales is included in the Register of the National Estates because of its natural significance is also worthy of Ramsar Convention on Wetlands listing and is included in the Directory of Important Wetlands of Australia: Will Lake Cowal be included in the proposed ‘National List’ under the new heritage legislation and afforded Commonwealth protection; if not, why not.

(2) Given that the proposed Cowal Gold Project will be built in the middle of Lake Cowal, which is one of Australia's most important wetlands and habitats for international migratory birds: How can Australia meet its international obligations under such agreements as the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (the Bonn Convention), the Convention on Biological Diversity, China-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement and Japan-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement, when this project goes ahead.

1001  Senator Bartlett: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Heritage—

(1) What is the total quantity of untreated sewage discharged from vessels into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park each year.

(2) What is the amount of sewage treated to a standard less than tertiary treatment that is discharged into the marine park.

(3) Are there any plans for eliminating the discharge of untreated waste into the marine park.

(4) What is the status of the plan to require tertiary treatment for all sewerage treatment plants that discharge into the marine park.

(5) Are there requirements for pump out facilities to be installed in marinas, harbours and/or ports along the Great Barrier Reef coast.

(6) Is there a requirement that new facilities contain pump-out facilities.

(7) With reference to page 34 of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s report 2001-02, which indicates both a reduction in the number of trawlers and an increased profitability of remaining trawlers: Are there any figures on: (a) the relative levels of catch; and (b) catch per unit effort in the 18 months since the trawl plan took effect.

(8) When are the results of the seabed recovery work being done by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation expected to be available.

(9) With reference to page 35 of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s report 2001-02, which notes that agreement has been reached with the Queensland Government regarding management of the take of pipefish and seahorses by trawlers, and given that the report also indicates that agreement was reached on measures that need to be introduced to monitor the impact of trawling on these species: What is the current level of: (a) pipefish; and (b) seahorse take by trawlers.

(10) What are the current estimated population levels in the marine park of those species listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 .

(11) What are the agreed measures for monitoring pipefish and/or seahorse take.

(12) What are potential measures to reduce the take of those threatened species.

(13) (a) Is it true that prohibitions on spawning aggregations are no longer in the Reef Line Fishing Plan; (b) was it in earlier drafts of the plan; (c) did the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority support its earlier inclusion; and (d) does the authority support the targeting of spawning aggregations under this plan.

(14) Given that the Government has indicated it will reintroduce regulations relating to commercial netting in Princess Charlotte Bay, and given that approximately 16 fishers that have a history of regularly using the bay: (a) how many of those 16 had other endorsements; and (b) what were the other endorsements.

(15) Of the total commercial netting effort in the bay, historically, how much of the effort occurred outside the conservation zone, including intertidal and estuarine netting.

(16) What is the total bill that the authority has submitted to the Queensland Government for monitoring and other work at Nelly Bay Harbour.

(17) (a) Has the authority inspected the ferry landing area; (b) is it the case that the concrete at the ferry landing is cracking; and (c) has the authority signed off on the landing facilities.

(18) Given that at the Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Legislation Committee estimate hearings on 20 November 2002, the authority indicated there were concerns with sediment at Nelly Bay: Can details be provided of the nature, status and proposed solutions to those concerns.

(19) Given that at the Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Legislation Committee estimate hearings on 20 November 2002, the authority indicated that there was an ‘excision’ issue in relation to Nelly Bay: Is it correct that this relates to the need for water to be permanently present between the breakwater and the mainland of Magnetic Island

(20) Is it correct that the authority is recommending a re-profiling of areas inside the harbour in order to ensure that separation is maintained; if so, can a description of the authority requirements be provided.

(21) Is this issue the subject of any dispute with the state government.

(22) Based on current design, depths and sedimentation rates and the changes in beach profile requested by the authority, how frequently is dredging expected to be required inside Nelly Bay harbour or in the access channel.

(23) Has the authority had any discussions with the state, the contractor or others in relation to a proposed groyne at Nelly Bay; if so, can details be provided of: (a) the nature and status of the proposal; and (b) any discussions that have been held.

(24) With reference to the answer to question on notice no. 525 (Senate Hansard , 17 September 2002, p. 4323) in which the authority provided a summary of pending coastal development applications to the Senate: How many additional staged developments are there along the Queensland coast for which there are no current Commonwealth applications, but which have indicated an intent to move to a subsequent development stage.

(25) How many coastal development approvals issued by local or state governments are currently on the books that have not yet been acted upon but are still valid.

(26) With reference to page 30 of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s report 2001-02, which indicates that the authority acted as advisory agency on a number of occasions under the Integrated Planning Act: (a) How many advices were provided; and (b) for which development proposals.

(27) To what extent have the recommendations contained in advices been followed by the relevant state authority.

(28) With reference to page 28 of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s report 2001-02 which lists one of the outputs of the authority as the ‘pollution status of Cleveland Bay’: Can an outline of the pollution issues relating to Cleveland Bay be provided.

(29) (a) Is the Queensland nickel outfall discharge pipe still operational; and (b) are there plans to cease discharge from that pipe.

1002  Senator Brown: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Heritage— 

(1) Who proposed the federal funding of the West Wyalong - Lake Cowal road.

(2) Has the Government had any contact with the Lake Cowal mine developers about the road.

(3) (a) Why is a federally-funded road being built between West Wyalong and Lake Cowal when other roads in the area will remain as gravel roads; (b) does this mean that the Federal Government is supporting the Lake Cowal gold mine proposal through the back door.

(4) Can the Minister assure the Parliament, and the people of the Murray-Darling Basin, that a major toxic release from the proposed Lake Cowal gold project, for example, of cyanide or arsenic, would not harm humans and the environment.

1003  Senator Brown: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Heritage—

(1) Is the Minister aware that Mr Roger Bennetts, a representative of the Canadian gold mining company, Barrick Gold, which holds exploration licences at Lake Cowal, has admitted in the NSW Land and Environment Court that the company is carrying out exploration work without water licences and without a development consent for a slurry pit on Lot 23.

(2) Is the Minister aware that, although the company says it is trucking in water from West Wyalong, there appears to be evidence that the company is also taking water from a monitor bore on Lot 23 for which it has sought a licence but which has so far not been granted.

(3) Is the company’s action consistent with Federal Government requirements; and if not, what action will be taken.

1004  Senator Bishop: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Veterans' Affairs—With reference to paragraph 6.22 in the Australian National Audit Office report no. 6 into fraud control in the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, tabled in the Senate on 29 August 2002 and the estimate in the department’s Fraud Control Plan that up to $15 million may be at risk to fraud in the medical accounts treatment processing system:

(1) (a) What specific items of medical services were included in that estimate; and (b) what was the estimate against each item.

(2) For each of the past 3 years, what amounts have been recovered, by state, from: (a) providers of medical services, by type; (b) providers of community nursing; (c) providers of other home care and domestic services; and (d) other providers of health-related services.

(3) What resources are specifically allocated in each state office to fraud control and management in the health area.

(4) For each state in the past year, how many health providers have been interviewed or counselled with respect to claims lodged for payment.

(5) In each of the past 5 years, how many providers of health services have been prosecuted for fraudulent claims.

(6) In each of the past 5 years, how many veterans in relation to fraudulent travel claims have been: (a) investigated; and (b) prosecuted.

(7) In each of the past 5 years how many transport contractors in relation to fraudulent claims have been: (a) investigated; and (b) prosecuted.

(8) With reference to state offices, what instructions exist for the implementation of the fraud control plan.

1005  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry—

(1) (a) What discussions has the Minister undertaken with Japanese officials during 2002 in relation to Australian beef imports to Japan known as ‘Aussie Beef’; (b) who attended each meeting; (c) when did each meeting occur; (d) what was discussed at each meeting; and (e) what records were kept of each meeting.

(2) (a) What discussions has the Minister had with Japanese officials specifically in relation to the import restrictions known as the ‘snap-back’; (b) who attended each meeting; (c) when did each meeting occur; (d) what was discussed at each meeting; and (e) what records were kept of each meeting.

(3) Is the ‘snap-back’ calculated on total beef imports into Japan, or on a country-by-country basis.

(4) Will the ‘snap-back’ be invoked on Australian beef imports to Japan during the 2002-03 and 2003-04 financial years.

1006  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry—

(1) (a) When did the Minister first become aware of plans by the United States (US) to conduct a consumer marketing campaign to re-build market share for American beef within Japan following the Japanese Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) outbreak of 2001; and (b) how was he advised.

(2) When did the first advertisements for US beef produce actually appear in the Japanese media.

(3) Is the Minister aware of the amount of funding, in US dollars, actually expended to date by US beef interests, including the US Government, on the consumer marketing campaign to re-build market share for American beef within Japan following the BSE outbreak in Japan during 2001.

(4) Is the Minister aware of the planned duration of the consumer marketing campaign to re-build market share for American beef within Japan following the BSE outbreak of 2001.

(5) What monitoring is the Commonwealth undertaking of the activities of competitors to Australian beef producers to grow or rebuild their market share within the Japanese beef market in the wake of the BSE outbreak of 2001.

(6) What was the total US market share of the Japanese beef market on a weekly basis for the period 15 September to 15 November 2002, compared with the same period last year.

(7) What were the results of consumer awareness testing for US beef produce on a weekly basis for the period 15 September to 15 November 2002, compared with the same period last year.

(8) What were the results of consumer confidence testing into the perception of the safety of US beef produce for the period 15 September to 15 November 2002, compared with the same period last year.

(9) What were the weekly growth in sales of US beef produce for the period 15 September to 15 November 2002, compared with the same period last year.

1007  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry—

(1) How much funding has the Commonwealth expended to date to re-build market share, via a marketing campaign for Australian beef produce known as ‘Aussie Beef’, within Japan following the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) outbreak of 2001.

(2) In formulating the amount of Commonwealth funding for the Aussie Beef campaign, what analysis was conducted to ensure the sum budgeted for expenditure would be adequate.

(3) (a) Which advertising agency is conducting the Aussie Beef campaign; (b) how was the advertising agency selected; and (c) when did the campaign planning begin at the advertising agency.

(4) On what day did the first advertisement for the Aussie Beef campaign appear in the Japanese media.

(5) Can the media schedule for the Aussie Beef campaign be supplied.

(6) What are the specific marketing and sales objectives of this marketing campaign.

(7) Was the Minister required to approve the Aussie Beef campaign concept; if so, when did the Minister: (a) receive the concept; and (b) approve the concept.

(8) In the event that officers within the department were authorised to approve the Aussie Beef campaign concepts: (a) what were the positions of those officers; and (b) when did they do so.

(9) How is the effectiveness of the Aussie Beef marketing campaign being monitored.

(10) (a) How often does the Minister receive a report on the campaign’s effectiveness; and (b) how does the Minister receive this.

(11) (a) How often does the department receive a report on the campaign’s effectiveness; and (b) how is this received.

(12) How often do the Minister and officers from the department meet with the advertising agency to discuss the progress of the Aussie Beef campaign against the stated marketing and sales objectives.

(13) What records are kept of these discussions.

(14) What are the results to date of consumer awareness testing for Aussie Beef since the Aussie Beef campaign commenced in the Japanese media, compared with the same period last year.

(15) What are the results to date of consumer confidence testing of the perception of the safety of Aussie Beef since the Aussie Beef campaign commenced in the Japanese media, compared with the same period in 2001.

(16) What weekly growth has there been in Aussie Beef sales since the Aussie Beef campaign commenced in the Japanese media, compared with the same period in 2001.

(17) What have the weekly market share results for Aussie Beef been since the Aussie Beef campaign commenced in the Japanese media, compared with the same period last year.

(18) When is the Aussie Beef campaign due to finish.

(19) Is the department preparing to extend the campaign into the next financial year; if not, will this decision be based upon: (a) budgetary restrictions; or (b) the achievement of a stated marketing objective.

1008  Senator Brown: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Heritage—

(1) How can the Commonwealth Government justify allowing a gold mine to go ahead at Lake Cowal in the Murray-Darling Basin when the area is in a severe drought, and local farmers require water for agriculture and domestic purposes.

(2) Is the Minister aware that the mine will use between 4 and 14 megalitres of water per day taken from a borefield north-east of the lake when operational, which is expected to be in 2005.

(3) Is the Minister aware that a Wiradjuri sacred site is being desecrated by the Barrick Gold Corporation at Lake Cowal, and is in danger of total destruction now that a National Parks and Wildlife Service section 90 Consent to Destroy has been issued.

(4) What is the Minister doing to issue an emergency declaration under section 9 of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 to stop desecration of this highly significant Aboriginal place.