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Notice given 19 June 2003

1553  Senator Brown: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Heritage—With reference to the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 , under which the Australian Defence Force must not take action that has, will have, or is likely to have, a significant impact on the environment anywhere in the world without the approval of the Minister for Environment and Heritage:

(1) Did the Minister provide this approval prior to Australia’s war on Iraq; if not, is the Minister aware that the unlawful taking of an action can attract a civil penalty of up to $1.1 million, or a criminal penalty of up to 2 years imprisonment.

(2) If the Minister was notified and gave approval for military action in Iraq by exempting the action under the Act, why is the exemption not listed under the public notices on the Environment Australia website.

1554  Senator Brown: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs—With reference to the Memorandum of Understanding between the Australian and Iranian governments used to progress voluntary repatriation of detained Iranians:

(1) Was a letter distributed to detained Iranians in the following or similar terms, ‘We urge you to actively consider your options. Failure to do so will result in your removal from Australia.  The governments of Iran and Australia are currently consulting on the issue of your removal should you not depart voluntarily’.

(2) Is it true that the Iranian Government wishes only to accept detainees who volunteer to return; if so, is that the reason why Iranian detainees are offered money to go on a voluntary basis.

(3) Does the Minister have any evidence of torture or death of Iranian detainees who have returned to Iran from Australian detention centres.

1555  Senator Brown: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs—With reference to the suicide of Afghani asylum seeker Dr Habib Vahedi, who died in Murray Bridge on 3 February 2003:

(1) Was there no evidence available to the Minister, the Government or the Port Hedland detention centre authorities that Dr Vahedi had psychological problems.

(2) (a) What did the Minister mean when he was reported in the Advertiser on 8 February 2003 as saying, ‘that his suicide could well be for a whole host of reasons and that people should have got him appropriate support and counselling’; and (b) with reference to that quote, to which people was the Minister referring and to what counselling.

(3) What information does the Minister have to show that the Minister or the department had no knowledge, either before or since 8 February 2003, of Dr Vahedi’s potential for suicide.

(4) Can the Minister give Senator Brown an assurance that his department has no such information.

(5) What medical or social support services were afforded to Dr Vahedi in South Australia.

1556  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Health and Ageing—With reference to the Rural Other Medical Practitioner Program:

(1) How many of the current Other Medical Practitioner participants are undertaking training through distance learning or other means that will lead to the fellowship of Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (FRACGP).

(2) (a) What training schemes are available to these Other Medical Practitioners to achieve FRACGP, (for example, alternative pathways, distance learning, etc); and (b) what is the status of these programs.

(3) What is the estimated full-time equivalent number of the 1 100 Other Medical Practitioners active in the program.

(4) Do the numbers of Other Medical Practitioners operating in Queensland include only the Rural Other Medical Practitioner Program or do they include data from the Queensland Country Relieving Program.

(5) What has been the cost of this program to the department in terms of administration and program costs for each of the following financial years: (a) 2001-02; and (b) 2002-03.

1557  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Health and Ageing—With reference to the Rural Locum Relief Program (RLRP):

(1) What is the estimate of the full-time equivalent (FTE) doctors that the 1 285 participating doctors in 2000-01 represent.

(2) (a) How many of the 1 285 participating doctors were: (i) overseas trained doctors, (ii) temporary visa doctors, or (iii) Australian graduates; and (b) for each of these groups, what is the FTE contribution.

(3) Are there more recent participation figures available for this program; if so, can a copy of these figures be provided.

(4) Can the activity and service access data reviewed in the 2001 evaluation and referred to in the briefing paper on the program, be presented in a summary format that would indicate broad trends.

(5) Can a breakdown be provided, by state and territory, of the number of participating doctors and FTE doctors.

(6) Does the reference in the briefing paper to Queensland as a dominant user of the program refer only to the RLRP or does it also refer to data from the Queensland Country Relieving Program.

(7) What has been the cost of this program to the department in terms of administration and program costs for each of the following financial years: (a) 2001-02; and (b) 2002-03.

1558  Senator Harris: To ask the Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer—Given the ruling by the Federal Court in 2001 in relation to mass marketed tax-effective investments (MMTEIs) and the seriousness with which the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) regarded MMTEIs: Have any firms been brought before the Tax Agents Board as a consequence of the failed MMTEI’s Federal Court case; if so, can a list of those firms be provided; if not, why has the ATO not commenced any action.

1559  Senator Harris: To ask the Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer—

(1) Can the Minister confirm that in the recent Cooke case involving Horticultural Project No.1, Justice Stone said that:

(a) the Spotless case had little relevance to an Australian-based project with a clear commercial purpose;

(b) the ‘scheme’ considered by the Australian Taxation Office in relation to Messers Cooke and Jamieson must include only those financial aspects of the project of which Messers Cooke and Jamieson were aware; and

(c) Messrs Cooke and Jamieson’s testimony about the dominant purpose of the investment must be accorded due weight;

if so: (a) can the Minister provide an explanation as to why the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) relied primarily on Spotless in its administration of mass marketed tax-effective investment (MMTEI) taxpayers’ reassessments; and (b) in its administration of MMTEI taxpayer reassessments, how does the ATO treat a person who enters into a MMTEI, which included financial aspects of projects of which the taxpayer was unaware when entering the scheme.

(2) Has the ATO, in its administration of MMTEI taxpayer reassessments, ignored evidence presented by taxpayers, at the ATO’s invitation, in regard to the dominant purpose of their investment, contrary to the requirements in Section 177A(5) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 .

1560  Senator Harris: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs—Can figures for the following categories be provided, on a state by state basis, of males receiving unemployment benefits: (a) married with dependants; (b) in de facto relationships with dependants; (c) separated with dependants; (d) separated without dependants; (e) separated with child support commitments; and (f) separated without child support commitments.