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Notice given 17 June 2003

1520  Senator Brown: To ask the Minister for Defence—With reference to the pre-war concern that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and advice from intelligence organisations:

(1) Was advice given to the Government that the United States of America (US) or the United Kingdom (UK) were moving to invade solely because of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction; if not, in each case, of what other motivation was the Government advised.

(2) (a) Who in the Government was made aware of that advice; (b) from where did that advice come; and (c) who conveyed it to the Government and when.

(3) Were weapons of mass destruction seen as the primary motivation for war for the UK or the US; if not, what was the primary motivation.

1521  Senator Sherry: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations—

(1) Is the Office of the Employment Advocate (OEA) aware of a telephone survey currently being conducted on freedom of association.

(2) Has the OEA commissioned a survey on freedom of association.

(3) Did the OEA commission the survey of its own initiative or was it requested to do so by the Minister or the department.

(4) Who has been contracted to conduct the survey.

(5) How was this contractor selected.

(6) What is the value of the contract.

(7) What instructions have been provided to the contractor.

(8) How have respondents to the survey been chosen.

(9) In which industries do respondents work.

(10) How many respondents are there.

(11) How is the survey being conducted.

(12) Can a copy of all questions asked in the survey be provided.

(13) Do respondents provide their names and contact details or is the survey anonymous.

(14) Will the circumstances of any individual respondent be further investigated by the OEA.

(15) Who will compile and interpret the results of the survey.

(16) When will the results of the survey be made available to: (a) the OEA; (b) the Minister; and (c) the public.

1522  Senator Greig: To ask the Minister for Family and Community Services—With reference to budget measures affecting the Pensioner Education Supplement (PES), and the 2003-04 Budget proposal to match PES payments to study periods, generating savings of $39.3 million over 4 years ( Portfolio Budget Statements 2003-04, Family and Community Services Portfolio , p. 198):

(1) How many Disability Support Pension recipients, grouped by disability type, will be affected by restricted access to the PES between periods of study.

(2) Has research been conducted into the likely impact of removal of the PES for people with disabilities studying courses longer than one year in duration; if so, what were the findings and recommendations from that research.

(3) What types of study-associated costs does the PES cover.

(4) Is it true that the Education Entry Payment, referred to in estimates hearings as a payment which could assist with book purchase in place of the PES, is a one-off payment and will not, in fact, assist with the cost of books or other costs over multiple years of study.

(5) (a) Does the Government acknowledge there is a range of additional study costs specific to people with disabilities, some of which are not tied to periods of study but are ongoing between periods of study; and (b) what assistance will be offered to meeting these additional costs in the absence of the PES.

(6) Can figures be provided, by disability type and as a proportion of all students with disabilities in receipt of PES, on those disabled students who subsidise holiday income by taking up work.

1523  Senator Greig: To ask the Minister for Family and Community Services—With reference to budget measures affecting Disability Support Pension (DSP) reviews, and the 2003-04 Budget proposal to conduct an additional 61 000 DSP reviews, generating net savings of $89.2 million over 4 years ( Portfolio Budget Statements 2003-04, Family and Community Services Portfolio , p. 187):

(1) Given that enhanced DSP reviews will require the development of new risk-profiling tools: (a) when will the department complete the development of the risk-profiling tool and guidelines for its implementation; and (b) will these guidelines be publicly available.

(2) As this measure contains implicit compliance requirements, what will be the penalty for DSP recipients who do not comply.

(3) How will people with disabilities and those with mental disorders be protected from incurring penalties.

(4) How will people who are homeless and on a DSP be protected from incurring penalties.

1524  Senator Greig: To ask the Minister for Family and Community Services—With reference to budget measures affecting business services for people with disabilities, and the 2003-04 Budget proposal to provide $25.4 million over 3 years to assist business services to meet new quality assurance guidelines ( Portfolio Budget Statements 2003-04, Family and Community Services Portfolio , p. 176).

(1) With reference to the estimate given at the Community Affairs Legislation Committee 2003-04 Budget estimates hearings in June 2003 that approximately one-third of business services are expected to have some difficulty in meeting new quality assurance requirements, how was this one-third estimate arrived at.

(2) How many employees does this one-third of business services represent.

(3) Given that approximately $5 million of the allocation will be spent on analyst assessments to ensure, in part, that businesses unlikely to ever be viable will not receive assistance: how many services may fall within this category.

(4) With regard to the new and ongoing voluntary reporting arrangements being introduced into business services, what role will business services undertake in relation to Centrelink customer income assessments.

(5) What guidelines have been developed by the department by which business services will report to Centrelink on customer income assessments.

(6) What is the link between business services’ voluntary participation in customer income assessments and their capacity to demonstrate quality assurance compliance outcomes.

1525  Senator Greig: To ask the Minister for Family and Community Services—With reference to statements made in the Community Affairs Legislation Committee 2003-04 Budget estimates hearings in June 2003 in relation to the provision of Auslan interpreter services to members of the deaf community, in which the Minister: (a) indicated that funding requested by the Australian Association of the Deaf, to conduct research into the extent of unmet need, had been granted, and the tender would shortly be advertised; and (b) further indicated there was no money in the budget to provide the $767 000 interim funding requested by the Australian Federation of the Deaf:

(1) Has the tender for a scoping study to research the current supply and demand of Auslan interpreters been advertised; if not, when will it be advertised.

(2) What is the expected time frame for the scoping exercise.

(3) Will the Government commit to re-assessing the current provision of funding for Auslan interpreters on the basis of the research findings.

(4) Given that the Minister acknowledges there is enough information to ‘know what the problem is in general’, and that this has been a growing issue for the past 7 years, why has the Government failed to act before now.

(5) Why is the Government still unwilling to commit the $767 000 interim funding required to ensure minimum access to interpreters for the deaf pending the outcome of the scoping research.

1526  Senator Greig: To ask the Minister for Defence—

(1) How many Australian Defence civilians have applied for leave citing the war in Iraq as a reason.

(2) How many Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel have applied for leave citing the war in Iraq as a reason.

(3) Since 20 March 2003, how many Australian Defence civilians have sought counselling, with payment for such counselling being made by the department.

(4) Since 20 March 2003, how many ADF personnel have sought counselling, with payment for such counselling being made by the department.

(5) How many Australian Defence civilians have attempted suicide since 20 March 2003.

(6) How many ADF personnel have attempted suicide since 20 March 2003.

(7) How many of the attempted suicides by Australian Defence civilians resulted in death.

(8) How many of the attempted suicides by ADF personnel resulted in death.

(9) Has the department conducted any surveys into suicides within the Australian Defence Forces.

1527  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—With reference to the use of temporary or agency staff to operate contracted mail runs:

(1) Can details be provided of Australia Post’s use of employment agency staff to deliver mail.

(2) How many mail runs that were previously operated by mail contractors are currently staffed in this manner.

(3) What is the cost to Australia Post of staffing a mail run in this manner compared to the cost of employing a contractor.

(4) What plans does Australia Post have for the further conversion of contracted mail runs.

(5) What are Australia Post’s intentions in regard to bringing these positions back ‘in house’.

(6) Under what conditions would such positions be created.

(7) What progress has been made between Australia Post and the Communications, Electrical, Electronic, Energy, Information, Postal, Plumbing and Allied Services Union (CEPU) in negotiations surrounding the employment of staff in total outdoor work (given that the case is currently adjourned indefinitely in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC)).

(8) What is the time frame for the resolution of these issues.

(9) How many hours of outdoor work per day are currently being undertaken by the agency staff employed to deliver mail.

(10) What plans does Australia Post have for the creation of total outdoor work positions in locations other than those involved in the AIRC case.

(11) What would be the applicable salary level for staff employed in total outdoor work positions.

(12) What is the salary payable for staff currently employed sorting as well as delivering mail.

1528  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—With reference to free postage on parcels to Australian troops deployed overseas:

(1) What is the value of the payments made to Australia Post by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) or the Department of Defence for mail sent free or at subsidised rates to ADF personnel deployed overseas.

(2) What are the technical arrangements in place for the billing of the ADF and/or the Department of Defence in relation to this mail.

(3) What percentage of the mail sent to ADF personnel deployed overseas and subsidised in this manner was originally lodged at Licenced Post Offices (LPOs).

(4) What is the value of payments to LPOs to reimburse them for the commission foregone as a result of not stamping this mail; if the answer is $0: (a) what consultation was undertaken with LPOs to ensure they were happy to provide this work free of charge; and (b) will Australia Post be implementing a policy to ensure LPOs are reimbursed for this loss of income.

1529  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—With reference to evidence given by the Communications, Electrical, Electronic, Energy, Information, Postal, Plumbing and Allied Services Union (CEPU) at the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee inquiry hearing into the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement, in Melbourne on 9 May 2003, which outlined the possible impact GATS would have on Australia Post if the reserved service was opened up to foreign competition and in which it was stated that Australia Post ‘would have to make a commercial decision about its rates’ (Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee Hansard , 9 May 2003, p. 102):

(1) Has Australia Post looked into how possible changes to the reserved service through GATS could affect the rates of postage.

(2) Has Australia Post been briefed as to what action the Government is likely to take concerning GATS and the reserved service.

(3) Does Australia Post agree with the CEPU that GATS ‘has the potential to lead to the radical reduction or abolition of the reserved service component of Australia Post’s market’.

(4) What is Australia Post’s stance on GATS.

(5) Given that during the 2003-04 Budget estimates hearings of the Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Legislation Committee, Australia Post, when asked in relation to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade discussion paper and the commitments on the supply of small letters whether it was aware of the kind of commitment requested, replied with the answer ‘no’ (QoN 92): Will Australia Post be undertaking, or has it undertaken, to receive clarification from the Government regarding the requests by other nations to Australia concerning small letters; if not, why not.

(6) Given that, during the 2003-04 Budget estimates hearing of the Environment, Communications Information Technology and the Arts Legislation Committee, Australia Post stated that it had provided comments regarding GATS and an earlier discussion paper issued by the department (QoN 92): Can a copy of those comments be provided.

1530  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) Is Australia Post requiring mail contractors to become incorporated; if so: (a) why has this requirement been imposed; and (b) what risks or concerns of Australia Post are being addressed by such a move.

(2) What has been the impact of incorporation on mail contractors’ operating costs.

(3) If incorporation is a requirement of Australia Post, what financial assistance has been provided to contractors to meet these additional costs.

(4) What is Australia Post’s process for dealing with disputes between itself and licensees of Licenced Post Offices (LPOs), including the time frame set down for resolution of such disputes.

(5) What is the particular process for disputes that have resulted in the lodgement of an LPO11.

(6) How many such disputes have there been in the past 12 months between Australia Post and the licensees who operate LPOs.

(7) (a) How does this compare to previous years; and (b) if there has been an increase, what is the cause of this increase.

(8) How many LPO11 disputes were not resolved in sufficient time to meet Australia Post’s commitments on dispute resolution.

1531  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) What is the accepted safe weight limit for parcels under the occupational health and safety guidelines.

(2) Does Australia Post accept parcels above this limit; if so, what is the process for dealing with such parcels.

(3) What processes are there in place to ensure that mail contractors and licensees of Licenced Post Offices are not exposed to dangerous work practices when dealing with parcels above the safe weight limit.

1532  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) What internal resources has Telstra allocated to the monitoring of the Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts References Committee inquiry into the Australian telecommunications network.

(2) At how many hearings of the inquiry has Telstra had a staff member present for monitoring purposes.

(3) What is the name and position of the Telstra employee who has been attending inquiry hearings on a regular basis.

(4) Of what Telstra Business Unit is he a part.

(5) Who does he report to in Telstra.

(6) What is his annual salary.

(7) What has been the cost of travel and travel allowance for the purpose of monitoring this inquiry.

(8) What is his position description and/or brief in regard to this inquiry.

(9) What hearings of the Australian telecommunications network has this person attended.

(10) (a) Does he present a report to Telstra after each hearing; and (b) who is given a copy of that report.

1533  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) How many RAM 8s are used in the Bendigo, Gippsland and Southern Gippsland regions.

(2) Does Telstra agree with the assertion that the quality of service is reduced with RAM 8s, such as slower Internet connections and static; if so, what is Telstra doing to improve the service.

(3) How many complaints, concerning network faults, has Telstra received in the past year from customers in the Bendigo, Gippsland and Southern Gippsland regions.

(4) (a) What is slavey cable; and (b) what it is used for.

(5) Is Telstra using slavey cable to aid the provision of services to customers.

(6) Can the Minister confirm whether Telstra is not allowing ‘expense works’ unless they are emergency patch ups only.

(7) Given that at the Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Legislation Committee additional estimates hearings in November 2002 Telstra stated that under the Regional Network Taskforce program cable replacement was conducted in the Southern Gippsland area (QoN 47), can Telstra provide a percentage figure for old and new cable in the area.

1534  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—With reference to the Cable Air Pressure Program:

(1) How many staff are being assigned to work on the this program in each of the priority areas of Illawarra, Newcastle, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Tasmania and Canberra.

(2) Can figures be provided on how many of those assigned under the program, for each of the above priority areas, are: (a) Network Design and Construction staff; (b) National Network Solutions staff, (c) contractors; and (d) Telstra field staff.

(3) How many cables were in alarm in each of these priority areas at the start of this program.

(4) How many cables in each of the categories of platinum, gold and silver, were identified as being in alarm in New South Wales.

(5) How many cables are now in alarm in each of these priority areas.

(6) How many of the cables in alarm are due to inaccessible leaks.

(7) What is the process for repairing inaccessible leaks.

(8) How many inaccessible leaks in New South Wales are being repaired by cable length replacement under this program.

(9) Given that cables in Tasmania are not under APCAMS but under the AMS system, are AMS reports available; if so, can a copy of the most recent AMS report be provided; if not, how are the priority areas being determined in Tasmania.

(10) What broadly is the state of the cables in Tasmania as far as this issue is concerned.

(11) Is the APCAMs alarm system being installed in any new areas; if so, where.

(12) How much is being spent on APCAMS installation.

1535  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—With reference to the Customer Network Improvement (CNI) database:

(1) How many CNIs are there in the database at present, given that on 6 December the total figure quoted by Telstra was 112 159, an increase from the number quoted by Mr Estens in his report, which was 104  500 for February 2002.

(2) How many CNIs are there in each of the five priority classifications at present.

(3) What is the oldest CNI in each of the five priority classifications at present.

(4) What is the volume of CNIs that have been cleared from the database since 6 December 2002, in each of the priority classifications.

(5) Is it true that Telstra has changed the reporting process for CNIs, given the evidence presented by the Communications, Electrical, Electronic, Energy, Information, Postal, Plumbing and Allied Services Union at the Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts References Committee hearing into the Australian telecommunications network in Sydney on 19 May 2003 that there is a new process which involves a telephone call to the CNI phone number, and that the paperwork that used to be utilised is no longer required under this new process.

(6) (a) When did this system change; and (b) what is the rationale behind it.

(7) How are CNI tasks now allocated to customer field staff.

(8) Who can access the CNI database.

(9) Can team leaders in specific regional areas access the CNI database.

1536  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) At what date did Pracom commence supplying contractors to Telstra in Perth.

(2) (a) How many Pracom contractors, by dates of contracts, have been contracted by Telstra for the 2002-03 financial year.

(3) How many Citadel Securix contractors, by dates of contracts, have been contracted by Telstra for the 2002-03 financial year.

(4) How does the Corporate Sourcing Group operate; and (b) is there a separate Corporate Sourcing Group in each Telstra region.

(5) Who does the General Manager of Metro Services Infrastructure Services report to in the Telstra organisation.

(6) Can details be provided of which expenses are covered by Telstra and which expenses are covered by contractors when contractors are flown in to a capital city to do work for Telstra; for example does Telstra pay for the cost of travel, travel allowance and other expenses.

(7) If any of these expenses are covered by Telstra, which part of Telstra’s budget are these costs covered by.

(8) Has Telstra made any changes in the 2002-03 financial year to the way these expenses are recorded.

(9) What investigations has Telstra done into the connections between Ms T Jakszewicz, or members of her immediate family, and the contracting company Pracom.

(10) (a) Is Ms Jakszewicz still an employee of Telstra; and (b) can the dates of her employment with Telstra be provided.

(11) With regard to the use of contractors generally: For each Telstra region, on how many occasions has the inspection of work done by contractors resulted in a re-report of that work.

1537  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) (a) How much money did Telstra spend on advertising its specialised services for the aged and disabled in the last year; (b) what advertising medium did Telstra use to promote these services; and (c) where did Telstra predominantly advertise these services.

(2) (a) Where are the aged and disability managers located in Australia; and (b) how many staff work with the managers.

(3) (b) Will Telstra be training other staff in dealing with aged and disability problems; if so, where will these staff be located; and (b) how much training will be provided per staff member, for example, days or weeks.

1538  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) With reference to Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Legislation Committee Hansard, 27 May 2003 page 142, can the Minister confirm the statement by Mr Rix that it is only in ‘contingency’ workload that Telstra has ‘an opportunity to look for additional resources such as the use of overtime’.

(2) (a) Does Telstra use additional resources such as overtime or external contractors under any other workload condition, such as low workload, normal workload, high workload or contingency; and (b) can details be provided of each category of additional resources for each workload for each area this financial year, including Network Design and Construction, National Network Solutions resources.

(3) (a) If no preventative maintenance work is done under contingency, is preventative maintenance work done under any other workload condition, such as low workload, normal workload or high workload; and (b) can details be provided of the percentage of resources for preventative maintenance work under each other workload condition.

(4) How many days of normal workload were there this financial year for each Telstra region including: (a) Sydney Metro; (b) NSW Regional; (c) Melbourne Metro; (d) Vic Regional; (e) Brisbane Metro; (f) Qld Regional; (g) Perth Metro; (h) WA Regional; (i) Adelaide Metro; (j) SA Regional; (k) NT; and (l) Tas.

(5) How many days of high workload were there this financial year for each Telstra region including: (a) Sydney Metro; (b) NSW Regional; (c) Melbourne Metro; (d) Vic Regional; (e) Brisbane Metro; (f) Qld Regional; (g) Perth Metro; (h) WA Regional; (i) Adelaide Metro, (j) SA Regional; (k) NT; and (l) Tas.

(6) How many days of low workload were there this financial year for each Telstra region including: (a) Sydney Metro; (b) NSW Regional; (c) Melbourne Metro; (d) Vic Regional; (e) Brisbane Metro; (f) Qld Regional; (g) Perth Metro; (h) WA Regional; (i) Adelaide Metro; (j)  SA Regional; (k) NT; and (l) Tas.

(7) How many days of  contingency were this this financial year for each Telstra region including: (a) Sydney Metro; (b) NSW Regional; (c) Melbourne Metro; (d) Vic Regional; (e) Brisbane Metro; (f) Qld Regional; (g) Perth Metro; (h) WA Regional; (i) Adelaide Metro, (j) SA Regional; (k) NT; and (l) Tas.

(8) What is the fault level at which each of these regions would be considered in contingency if in Melbourne Metro contingency is above 1 900 faults: (a) Sydney Metro; (b) NSW Regional; (c) Brisbane Metro; (d) Qld Regional; (e) Perth Metro; (f) WA Regional; (g) Adelaide Metro; (h) SA Regional; (i) NT; and (j) Tas.

(9) With reference to evidence by Mr Rix, Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Legislation Committee Hansard, 27 May 2003, page 144, if the normal range of faults for Melbourne is between 850 and 1 300 faults, what is the normal range of faults for each other area including: (a) Sydney Metro; (b) NSW Regional; (c) Brisbane Metro; (d) Qld Regional; (e) Perth Metro; (f) WA Regional; (g) Adelaide Metro; (h) SA Regional; (i) NT; and (j) Tas.

1539  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) (a) Has ‘FuturEdge’ been implemented across Telstra yet; and (b) can an update be provided on how this has been proceeding.

(2) (a) Was this system trialled in any location before it was implemented across the company; if so, where was it trialled, and for how long; and (b) is it still being trialled anywhere.

(3) (a) Is it correct that there was a trial of ‘FuturEdge’ in Brisbane earlier this year; and (b) has the program been fully implemented in Brisbane now.

(4) With reference to information provided to the Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Legislation Committee: (a) is it true that the Brisbane Work Management Centre experienced so many problems with ‘FuturEdge’ that it had to assign hundreds of jobs manually; and (b) what sorts of problems were these and what did Telstra do to fix these.

(5) How has Telstra changed the way fieldwork calendars are managed to improve fault rectification times as reported by Telstra in the Estens Report (page 85).

1540  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) Can a list be provided of the names of the cities and towns that have had Telstra employees from other home base locations working in them, the number of employees in each, and the city or town of origin and number from that place of those workers for each month of the 2002-03 financial year.

(2) How much does Telstra pay in travel allowance for its employees for each night away from their home base.

(3) How many nights of travel allowance has Telstra paid its employees in the customer field workforce in the past financial year.

(4) What is the total amount of travel allowance paid in the past financial year by Telstra to its customer field employees.

(5) What is the total cost of: (a) airfares; and (b) other travel expenses, ie, car travel, to transport Telstra customer field employees from their home base to another location for this financial year.

(6) Have the internal accounting or costing codes that Telstra uses to classify these expenses changed at all in the past few years; if so, how.

(7) What section of the Telstra budget are these costs reported in.

1541  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) What measures does Telstra take to ‘lightning proof’ its cable network.

(2) Does Telstra know of any new technology that is available to minimise damage to cables from lightning strikes.

(3) What damage do lightning strikes do to cables and how does it affect services.

(4) With reference to the mass service disruption (MSD) notice declared in Tasmania in March 2003, which referred to a lightning storm on 19 March and declared an exemption from customer service guarantee (CSG) performance standards from Friday, 21 March, to Saturday, 29 March: What was the exact damage caused by this lightning storm (given the evidence to the Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts References Committee hearing in Launceston on 24 April 2003, in relation to the Australian telecommunications network inquiry, that this storm caused minimal damage in Tasmania).

(5) When and how did Telstra notify customers of this MSD in Tasmania.

(6) Were the CSG provisions adhered to in this case.

(7) Has Telstra paid any compensation to Tasmanian customers in respect of this case.

1542  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—With reference to the Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts References Committee Hansard , 27 May 2003, pp 175-177:

(1) How many hours of overtime were worked by Telstra customer field staff in each year of the past 5 financial years.

(2) What is the average amount of overtime per customer field staff employee in each year of the past 5 financial years.

(3) Have any Telstra customer field staff worked for any continuous periods in excess of 30 days; if so, in which location did these employees work and what was the number of days of continuous work.

(4) Have any Telstra staff or Telstra contractors ever worked more than 20 hours straight within a 24 hour period; if so, in which location did these employees work and what has been the number of hours of overtime worked. 

(5) Have Telstra team leaders been asked to rank their staff by performance or productivity.

(6) (a) How have Telstra team leaders decided which staff members are to be offered redundancies; and (b) was this on the basis of productivity or performance.

(7) Can information be provided on the measures that Telstra has used to measure field staff against the quality of work, amount of work done each day, their utilisation and how often they are available, and what these criteria have been benchmarked at.

(8) How is the criterion of ‘how often they are available’ for customer field staff measured and benchmarked.

(9) What is the benchmark for the number of installations for a Telstra customer field employee.

(10) What is the benchmark for the number of fault repairs for a Telstra customer field employee.

1543  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) What is the process for clearing cash out of pay phones; and (b) how does Telstra know when a phone is ready to be cleared.

(2) Is it the case that when a coin box in a public phone is full that this means the telephone cannot be operated by someone attempting to use it with coins.

(3) When a ‘coin box full’ message is received at a Telstra call centre from a pay phone, how quickly does Telstra send out someone to clear this box.

(4) Who clears phone boxes.

(5) Is there any difference in the timeframe or process for doing this in metropolitan areas or regional areas; if so, can details be provided.

(6) What does Telstra say about reports that Telstra does not act on this information until the third ‘coin box full’ message is received.

1544  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) Can an update be provided on how the new Priority Service Program is working.

(2) What is the budget for administering this program for the 2003-04 financial year.

(3) (a) How many staff will be allocated to work on this program in the 2003-04 financial year; and (b) if there is a variation to 2002-03 figures, what positions are involved and what is the reason for the variation.

(4) How many customers are currently registered on this program.

(5) What is the rate of assistance being provided by the Priority Assistance Program to customers: ie, what percentage, and number of the registered priority assistance customers have received assistance from the Telstra priority program.

(6) Can a geographical breakdown be provided of where this assistance was given, and how many times for each customer and in each area this assistance was provided, since the program began.

(7) Has the program been well received by registered customers.

(8) Have there been any customers who wished to register that Telstra has refused registration to; if so, can details be provided of the reasons for rejection and the number rejected.

(9) What steps is Telstra taking to promote this program to customers.

1545  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) How much notice did Telstra give its ‘communic8’ customers in Southern Tasmania that the promotion providing free 15 minute calls to other Telstra mobiles would not be renewed after 15 February.

(2) With reference to the statement by a Telstra spokesperson on 18 February 2003 in the Mercury that ‘there was a need to review the promotion’, has Telstra conducted the review; if so, what was the outcome.

1546  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) Can an update be provided on the $187 million Regional Network Taskforce that was announced in July 2002.

(2) Has there been any change to these funding amounts; if so, can details be provided.

(3) (a) How much of the above budget was spent in 2002-03 and how much will be carried forward to future years; and (b) can details be provided.

(4) (a) Under what part of Telstra’s capital expenditure budget, or general budget, is this program funded; (b) is it included in the $420 million capital spending; and (c) can funding details be provided.

(5) (a) Does the program for ‘copper network rehabilitation’ include any remedial work on the ‘seal the CAN’ corrosive gel affected cables; if so, how much; (b) what work is covered in this category; and (c) can details be provided.

(6) (a) Does the $88 million on ‘copper network rehabilitation’ include any cable air pressure remedial work, such as the $40 million program to bring cable air pressure up to 40kpa in certain priority areas; and (b) can details be provided.

(7) For each category of spending listed, please indicate in which geographical locations each category of this program has done work.

1547  Senator Mackay: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—With reference to the use of encapsulant sealant gel:

(1) Does Telstra still stand by the statement that in 97 percent of cases where the gel is in place that it continues to work well.

(2) How much of the $110 million allocated to this program has been spent in the 2002-03 financial year.

(3) Has this funding level changed at all; if so, can details be provided.

(4) What is the sub-category of the domestic capital expenditure budget that this program is funded under.

(5) (a) Is it the case that if it is costing $110 million to fix 100 000 cable joints then each cable joint costs $100 000 to fix; (b) how was this figure calculated; and (c) can a breakdown of projected costings be provided.

(6) How many of these 100 000 joints identified have so far been fixed.

(7) (a) What are the geographical locations that are priorities for the repair of the 100 000 joints which have been targeted for remedial action; and (b) can a list of priority location areas be provided.

(8) (a) Is Perth one of the priority areas under the Telstra program; and (b) how many cable joints have been repaired in Perth under this program.

(9) (a) Are there still 100 people across Telstra exclusively focusing on identifying, prioritising and repairing cable joints where the gel has degraded the network; and (b) have any of these 100 people been moved from cable rehabilitation to other fault repair work this year for any period of time; if so, how many and where, and for what periods of time.

1548  Senator Harris: To ask the Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer—With reference to the following list of firms that have given written advice about their mass marketed tax-effective investments schemes:

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu: Budplan, Central Highlands wine Grape, Connect the World, Educational Devices, Equity Match, Harcourt Ridge, No Regrets, Satcom, Tentas;

Ernst & Young: Northern Rivers Tea Tree, Pacific Tea Tree;

KPMG: Freedom Express, Interest Recount, Tentas; and

Pricewaterhouse Coopers: Austvin, Equity Match, Liar Liar (Film), Oil Fields Project, Simple Simon/Mercury Rising (Film), Tradematch Licence:

(1) Have any representatives of the above firms served on advisory panels to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) or the Board of Taxation.

(2) Can taxpayers undertaking self-assessment of tax be reasonably sure that they can rely on the opinion of the above firms, particularly if their representation have served on advisory panels to the ATO or the Board of Taxation.

1549  Senator Harris: To ask the Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer—With reference to mass-marketed tax effective investment schemes:

(1) (a) Have the Part IVA determinations which constitute the formal notice of tax avoidance been withdrawn from members of the federal ministry and state ministries; and (b) will the remaining 40 000 Australians that invested in cooperative agriculture and film projects receive the same benefit.

(2) Can the Minister confirm that the Commissioner of Taxation advised the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer (Senator Ian Campbell) that investors who chose not to settle would need to comprehensively succeed in any litigation of the case to be better off than the investors that settled.

(3) Is it true that the Commissioner of Taxation has indicated to the Parliamentary Secretary that the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) intend to challenge any future mass marketed tax-effective investment cases taken before the courts, even though the Assistant Commissioner, Mr Peter Smith, wrote in 2001 that the ATO would test case two projects and that the outcomes from those selected cases would provide greater certainty for other participants in similar structured cases.

(4) With reference to the Vincent decision, in which the determination that deductions were not allowed under the general deductibility provisions was not made, and the amendment assessment was not issued, until more than 4 years after the original assessment allowing the deductions: Can the Minister indicate to how many unfinalised settlement offers in relation to projects and reassessments will the same outcome apply.

(5) (a) How many cases are there in which the ATO failed to issue a reassessment by the final date to accept settlement (21 June 2002) and in which deductions were therefore disallowed under the general deductibility provisions; (b) would any of the reassessments issued at that date have fallen out of the 4 year period; (c) did the ATO indicate that if taxpayers did not settle it would have to contest the matter in court after objection; and (d) did the ATO maintain this view even after the Vincent appeal decision.