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Notice given 24 June 2003

1576  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Family and Community Services—

(1) What is the status of the Australian-Hellenic Social Security Agreement between the Greek and Australian Governments.

(2) What negotiations have taken place since the Prime Minister met with the Prime Minister of Greece in Athens in 2002 with regard to the agreement.

(3) Is it the intention of the Government to re-schedule the visit by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Family and Community Services (the Hon. Ross Cameron, MP) to Greece, which was aborted as a result of the Bali bombings; if not, why not.

1577  Senator Carr: To ask the President of the Senate—

(1) In respect of the Department of the Senate and each of the joint parliamentary departments: (a) can details be provided of overseas travel undertaken by the secretary and each senior executive service (SES) officer or SES-equivalent officer in each parliamentary department, from 1 January 1996 to 31 May 2003, as follows: (i) date of travel, (ii) purpose, (iii) time overseas, and (iv) total cost; and (b) in each case, did a spouse or partner accompany the officer; if so, what costs were paid out of departmental funds for the spouse or partner.

(2) Can the President request the Speaker to provide answers to the above questions in respect of the Department of the House of Representatives.

1578  Senator Carr: To ask the President of the Senate—Can the President request the Speaker to provide answers to the following questions in respect of the Department of the House of Representatives, noting that these questions have also been asked of the other parliamentary departments and executive departments and agencies through the estimates process:

(1) What was the number of senior executive service (SES) staff at each SES band level at 30 June 1996 and at 30 June for each subsequent year, and the number and level of SES staff as at 31 March 2003.

(2) What were the minimum and maximum salary levels for each SES band, whether determined by Australian Workplace Agreements or otherwise, as at 30 June 1996 and at 30 June in each subsequent year, and at 31 March 2003.

(3) (a) What was the number of staff with salaries overlapping SES salaries as at 30 June 1996 and at 30 June in each subsequent year, and at 31 March 2003; and (b) what were the minimum and maximum levels of these salaries.

(4) (a) How many people are currently employed other than under the Parliamentary Service Act 1999 , including under contract arrangements, at salary levels equivalent to the SES; and (b) what are the minimum and maximum levels of the salaries paid.

(5) Has the department introduced arrangements whereby SES or other staff who are entitled to a motor vehicle as part of their remuneration are able to cash the vehicle out and have the cashed out amount count as salary for superannuation purposes; if so: (a) when were these arrangements introduced and do they still apply; (b) what was the policy justification for long-term costs of these arrangements; and (c) were any actuarial calculations made of the long-term costs of these arrangements; if so, what were the details of the estimates; if not, why was this not done.

1579  Senator Nettle: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs—

(1) Did the Prime Minister, in his speech in favour of deploying troops to Iraq, argue that not deploying troops to Iraq would send a signal to North Korea that it could get away with the development of nuclear weapons, and that the consequences of doing so would be minimal.

(2) Has North Korea concluded on the basis of the demise of the Iraqi regime that it should rid itself of weapons of mass destruction.

(3) Has North Korea, in fact, concluded that, as Iraq did not appear to have weapons of mass destruction, North Korea should acquire them as quickly as possible and retain and enhance those it already has.

(4) Was this the lesson that our Government actually wanted North Korea to learn.

(5) Is it the case that at least from 1956 to 1991 North Korea faced approximately 100 tactical United States nuclear weapons immediately south of the demilitarised zone.

(6) Is it the case that in recent months memos canvassing military options including strikes on the Yongbyon nuclear complex, ‘Cuba lite’ blockades and sanctions, and actual ‘regime change’ have been canvassed.

(7) Can the Minister comment on: (a) how the North Koreans are likely to respond to the canvassing of such options; and (b) the likely response of South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia to such discussions.

(8) Can the Minister assure the Senate that: (a) the Australian Government gives no support whatsoever to such discussion; and (b) Australia will make clear its unequivocal opposition not only to such options, but to their discussion in any forum whatsoever.