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Notice given 16 April 2003

1391  Senator Brown: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Heritage—With reference to the review of the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target Scheme:

(1) Is the Minister aware that the review panel has allowed only one month for initial submissions and published no other information about the process for the review.

(2) Will the Minister ensure that the panel allows at least 6 weeks for initial submissions and any later comment opportunities.

(3) Will the Minister ensure that all submissions and other evidence to the review are made public, except where the panel is explicitly requested to make information confidential and gives reasons publicly for agreeing to do so.

(4) Will the Minister ensure that the panel holds public hearings at least in every state from which submissions are received and that the hearings are open to any party that wishes to present evidence.

(5) Will the Minister ensure that the panel publishes a draft report and recommendations with opportunity to comment before finalising the report.

(6) What budget has been provided for the review.

(7) What instructions or guidelines have been given to the panel, apart from terms of reference, about how the review should be conducted.

1392  Senator Harris: To ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General—

(1) Does the Commissioner of Taxation currently exercise general administration of the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988 (the Registration and Collection Act) or the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (the Assessment Act) in the capacity of his office as Commissioner of Taxation.

(2) Is there any requirement, legal or otherwise, other than section 48 of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 , for the Federal Privacy Commissioner to ensure that guidelines issued pursuant to section 17 of the Privacy Act 1988 concerning the collection, storage, use and security of tax file number information are issued in a manner consistent with the rule of law as well as with the Commissioner’s statutory obligations.

(3) Is there any requirement for the Privacy Commissioner to ensure that guidelines issued pursuant to section 17 of the Privacy Act concerning the collection, storage, use and security of tax file number information continue to be in force in a manner consistent with the rule of law and with the Commissioner’s statutory obligations.

(4) With reference to Guideline 9.8 of the Tax File Number Guidelines 1992, issued by the Privacy Commissioner under section 17 of the Privacy Act, which provides that a taxation Act for the purpose of the Guidelines is, ‘an Act for which the Commissioner of Taxation has general administration,’ including the Registration and Collection Act and the Assessment Act, and given that Schedule 5 of the Child Support Legislation Amendment Act 2001 (the Amendment Act) repealed and substituted sections 10 and 11 of the Registration and Collection Act and section 147 of the Assessment Act, having the effect of removing the Commissioner of Taxation from the Registration and Collection Act, under which he was nominated as the Registrar, and replacing the Registrar with the Secretary as the entity exercising general administration of both Acts: If the Federal Privacy Commissioner is made aware of the fact that a guideline made pursuant to section 17 of the Privacy Act is inconsistent or in direct conflict with a statute with regard to which that Guideline has direct effect (as in the effect of Guideline 9.8 on the Child Support Legislation given the repeal and substitution of sections 10 and 11 of the Registration and Collection Act and section 147 of the Assessment Act), what obligation is there, legal or otherwise, for the Privacy Commissioner to amend, rescind or repeal the Guideline or to inform the Parliament.

(5) Notwithstanding the fact that under the current state of Privacy Guideline 9.8 the Child Support Registrar is not in breach of the Guideline in relation to the exercise of her powers under sections 16B and 16C of the Registration and Collection Act and sections 150B, 150C and 150D of the Assessment Act, in the event that the Privacy Commissioner is made aware of inconsistencies noted in part (4) and refuses to investigate or refuses to take any remedial action regarding the current state of the Guideline (that is clearly and unambiguously inconsistent with the basis on which that Guideline was originally drafted taking into account the legislation for which it was and still is intended to have effect), is the Privacy Commissioner, or is the Commonwealth of Australia, in breach of international law or treaties to which the Commonwealth of Australia has undertaken to be bound.

(6) Will the Attorney-General advise the Privacy Commissioner of the amendments to the Child Support Acts made under Schedule 5 of the Amendment Act and the effect of the amendments on the Guidelines, and draw particular attention to Guideline 9.8, or, in the alternative, will the Attorney-General observe whichever protocol is appropriate in the circumstances to ensure that the Privacy Commissioner is made aware of the amendments and the effect of the amendments on the Guidelines.

(7) With reference to section 11 of the Registration and Collection Act, both prior to and after the amendments made under the Amendment Act, has this legislation, or has any other legislation, rule or regulation, provided at any time whatsoever that the Commissioner of Taxation exercise general administration of the Registration and Collection Act in the capacity of the Office Commissioner of Taxation; if so, will the Attorney-General particularise such times.

(8) With reference to section 147 of the Assessment Act, both prior to and after the amendments made under the Child Support Legislation Amendment Act 2001, has this legislation, or has any other legislation, rule or regulation, provided at any time whatsoever that the Commissioner of Taxation exercise general administration of the Assessment Act in the capacity of the Office Commissioner of Taxation; if so, will the Attorney-General particularise such times.

(9) If the Attorney-General is unable to answer any question on the basis that the content does not come under the Attorney’s ministerial responsibilities will the Attorney refer the question to the appropriate Minister forthwith to be answered within the required time.