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Notice given 10 September 2003

*1973  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation—

(1) For each of the following financial years; 2000-01, 2001-02, and 2002-03: (a) how many suspected illegal fishing vessels in the Heard and McDonald Island (HIMI) region have been reported to Australian authorities; and (b) in each case: (i) what was the source of the report, and (ii) on what date was the report received.

(2) For each of the following financial years; 2000-01, 2002-02, and 2002-03: (a) how many suspected illegal fishing vessels in the HIMI region were reported to Australian authorities but not subsequently intercepted; and (b) in each case where a suspected illegal fishing vessel was identified but not intercepted, why was it not intercepted.

*1974  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation—With reference to the answer to paragraph (3)(a) of question on notice no. 565 (Senate Hansard , 11 November 2002, p. 6016):

(1) Was the alleged broadcasting of bogus Emergency Position Indicating Rescue Beacon signals by the Volga to assist the illegal fishing vessel the Lena to evade hot pursuit by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority contracted Southern Supporter subject to investigation by Australian authorities; if so, what was the outcome of the investigation and do current charges against the crew of the Volga relate to this alleged activity; if no investigation has been undertaken, why not.

(2) Was the alleged broadcasting of bogus Emergency Position Indicating Rescue Beacon signals by the Florence during the Southern Supporter’s hot pursuit of the illegal fishing vessel the Lena , and the Florence’s alleged re-fuelling of the Lena, subject to investigation by Australian authorities; if so, what was the outcome of this investigation and what legal action, if any, has been initiated against the crew of the Florence ; if no investigation has been undertaken, why not.

*1975  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation—With reference to the answer to paragraph (3)(b) of question on notice no. 731 (Senate Hansard , 9 December 2002, p. 7520): Has the Australian Government yet made direct representations to the Bolivian Government on Australia’s concerns about illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing and flag of convenience fishing; if so, when and in what form were these representations made; if not, why not.

*1976  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation—

(1) What companies have been issued with a licence to fish in the Heard and McDonald Island Fishery. 

(2) In relation to each company: (a) what is its registered address; and (b) when was the licence issued and, if applicable, renewed.

(3) (a) What total allowable catch, by species, is each licence holder allocated; and (b) in relation to each licence holder, have catch limits been varied; if so, when and what is the nature of the variation.

*1977  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation—With reference to the report of the Twenty-First Meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, held in Hobart from October to November 2002 and, in particular, the report on illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing:

(1) Has Russia complied with Australia’s request for the provision of vehicle monitoring system (VMS) data for the Russian-flagged vessel the Volga, recorded prior to its apprehension; if so, when did Russia provide the data; if not, has Australia made further representations in this matter.

(2) Is the Minister aware that, during the meeting, France identified the vessel the Viarsa as a suspected illegal toothfish vessel.

(3) (a) What information did Australia seek from France on the alleged activities of the Viarsa and other vessels identified as alleged illegal fishing vessels; (b) what investigation did Australia undertake upon receipt of that information; and (c) what outcome can be attributed to that investigation.

(4) (a) What assistance has Australia provided Uruguay in the implementation of a ‘smart track’ VMS; and (b) what progress has Uruguay made on its implementation.

*1978  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation—

(1) Did the Minister authorise the release of the details about Operation ‘Rushcutter’ contained in his ministerial media statement AFFA03/86MJ, issued on 12 May, including detailed vessel specifications of the Aurora Australis , patrol duration incorporating departure and return dates, a detailed description of crew numbers, training and operational capacity, the area of operation and the operational command structure; if not, who authorised the release of this information.

(2) Did the Minister authorise the release of information about the sidearms carried by officers and larger calibre weapons available aboard the Aurora Australis during Operation ‘Rushcutter’, as reported in the Hobart Mercury on 13 May 2003; if not, who authorised the release of this information.

(3) With reference to the Minister’s media statement ‘$12 million Budget boost to fight illegal fishing in Southern Ocean’ issued on 13 May 2003, can details be provided of the Government’s new program of armed enforcement patrols, including the proposed patrol frequency and enhanced enforcement capacity.

*1979  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation—

(1) For each of the following financial years; 2001-02 and 2002-03: what was the estimated illegal catch of Patagonian toothfish and other fish species taken from the Heard and McDonald Islands region.

(2) For each of the following financial years; 2001-02 and 2002-03: what assessment has the Government made of incidental mortality, including marine species and sea birds, resulting from this illegal fishing activity.

*1980  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation—

(1) What charges were laid against the master and crew of the vessel the Aliza Glacial , arising from its apprehension in October 1997, for alleged illegal fishing activity in Australian waters near the Heard and McDonald Islands. 

(2) When did the master and crew depart Australia.

(3) Did the departure of the master and crew stall the prosecution for alleged illegal fishing activity; if so: (a) what conditions were placed on their departure; (b) what has the Government done to secure the return of the accused to Australia; (c) what is the current location of the accused; (d) what is the status of the outstanding charges; and (d) what future action is proposed by the Government in this matter.

*1981  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation—With reference to the ‘stern warning’ to illegal Southern Ocean fishers and the nations that support illegal fishing activity issued by the Minister on 9 February 2003, in media statement AFFA03/017M:

(1) In what form and over what period was the warning communicated to illegal fishers.

(2) Was the warning delivered in languages other than English; if so, in which languages; if not, why not.

(3) Was the warning delivered to governments believed to support illegal fishers; if so: (a) when did the Minister do so; (b) what governments received the warning; and (c) what message did the Minister deliver on behalf of the Commonwealth.

(4) Did the Minister’s reference to nations that support illegal fishing include countries that provide markets for illegal catches of Patagonian toothfish.

(5) What outcomes can be attributed to the warning.

*1982  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation—With reference to the answer to paragraph (3)(a) of question on notice no. 490 (Senate Hansard , 17 September 2002, p. 4320), concerning negotiations with key flag states of illegal or suspected illegal fishing vessels and countries that tolerate illegal, unreported and unregulated and flag of convenience fishing:

(1) (a) What bilateral negotiations has the Government undertaken on the elimination of illegal fishing with Russia, Belize, Togo, Mauritius and the Seychelles in the past 12 months; (b) have these negotiations included ministerial-level communications; and (c) what outcomes, by country, can be attributed to Australia’s negotiations.

(2) (a) What other countries, suspected to be flag states of illegal fishing vessels or tolerant of illegal fishing, has the Government engaged in bilateral negotiations in the past 12 months; (b) have these negotiations included ministerial-level communications; and (c) what outcomes, by country, can be attributed to Australia’s negotiations.

*1983  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation—With reference to the answer to question on notice no. 730 (Senate Hansard, 10 December 2003, p. 7659):

(1) Has Australia finalised an agreement with France on combating illegal fishing in Australia’s sub-Antarctic excusive economic zones; if so when was the agreement finalised and what are the details of the agreement; if not: (a) why not; (b) what negotiations have been undertaken since the Minister advised in his answer that a proposed draft text was agreed; (c) were negotiations progressed during the Minister’s meeting with the French Minister for Overseas Territories in Paris in June 2003; (d) have negotiations included consideration of joint use of French facilities or French patrols of Australian waters; (e) what future negotiations are planned; and (f) when does the Minister expect the agreement will be finalised and active.

(2) Has a cooperative arrangement to combat illegal fishing been negotiated with South Africa; if so, when was the arrangement finalised and what are the details of the arrangement; if not: (a) what negotiations have been undertaken since the Minister wrote to his South African counterpart in September 2002 initiating formal discussions; (b) what future negotiations are planned; and (c) when does the Minister expect a cooperative arrangement will be finalised.

*1984  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation—With reference to the high-level policy group formed to oversee the protection of the Heard and McDonald Island Fishery:

(1) When has the group met since its inaugural meeting on 6 August 2002.

(2) What senior departmental officials from: (a) the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; (b) the Department of Environment and Heritage; (c) the Department of Defence; (d) the Attorney General’s Department; (e) the Department of Treasury; (f) the Australian Customs Service (Coastwatch); (g) the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet; (h) the Australian Federal Police; and (i) the Department of Finance and Administration, comprise its membership.

(3) Who chairs the group.

(4) Has the membership of the group, or its terms of reference, altered since its inaugural meeting; if so, can details of membership changes or amendments to the group’s terms of reference be provided.

(5) Is the group required to consult with non-departmental stakeholders; if so, can details of such consultation be provided; if not, why not.

*1985  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation—With reference to the Australian Fisheries Management Authority charter vessel Southern Supporter :

(1) When was the current Standing Deed of Offer signed.

(2) (a) What are the terms of the Standing Deed of Offer; and (b) what is the value of the contract between the Commonwealth and P&O Maritime Services Pty Ltd.

(3) What assessment has been made of the performance of the Southern Supporter in combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the Heard and McDonald Island (HIMI) region.

(4) (a) How many operations involving apprehension, boarding and/or searching suspected illegal fishing vessels were undertaken by the Southern Supporter in the HIMI region in 2002-03; and (b) for each operation: (i) what was the name of the vessel involved, (ii) what fishing equipment and/or catch was seized, and (iii) what legal action, if any, resulted.

(5) What are consequences for the role of the Southern Supporter, arising from the end of the civilian charter vessel program in June 2003, announced by the Minister on 13 May 2003.

*1986  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation—

(1) What specific outcomes beneficial to Australian fisheries management can be attributed to the Minister’s attendance at the fisheries roundtable organised by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation, held in Paris in June 2003.

(2) Can an English-language communiqué of the roundtable be provided.

(3) Which French Ministers did the Minister meet to discuss illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean around Australia’s Heard and McDonald Islands and France’s Kerguelen Island.

(4) What new measures did the French Ministers propose to facilitate surveillance and apprehension of boats illegally fishing in Australian and French waters in the Southern Ocean.

(5) What new measures did the Minister propose to the French Ministers.

(6) When did the Minister depart Australia for the roundtable visit.

(7) When did the Minister return to Australia.

(8) Who accompanied the Minister on this trip.

(9) Can the details of the Minister’s official itinerary be provided.

(10) (a) What was the total cost of the Minister’s visit to Paris, including departmental officers and ministerial staff; and (b) which department or departments met these costs.

*1987  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation—With reference to the Minister’s meeting with the French Minister for Overseas Territories in Paris on 3 June 2003:

(1) Did the Minister discuss aerial surveillance of the French Kerguelen Island and Australia’s adjacent Heard and McDonald Islands as a means to combat illegal fishing during the meeting.

(2) Was agreement reached on aerial surveillance; if so, what are the details of the agreement; if not, what future negotiations are planned and when does the Minister expect agreement will be reached.

*1988  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation—With reference to the Minister’s address to the National Press Club on 19 August 2003 concerning illegal toothfish fishing in Australian waters:

(1) What action has the Government taken to investigate and prosecute the 20 to 30 alleged regular illegal fishing operators known to the Government.

(2) (a) Is the Minister aware of allegations that the operator of the so-called ‘Alphabet Boats’ is a well known Hong Kong-based company with a wholly-owned Jakarta-based subsidiary that services the illegal fleet; (b) what action has the Government taken to investigate these allegations; (c) what representations has the Government made to the Hong Kong SAR Government, the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Indonesian Government, in relation to this company’s alleged involvement in the operation of the ‘Alphabet Boats’.

*1989  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation—With reference to Australia’s 2001-02 report on its activities in the Convention on Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) area in accordance with Article XX of the Convention:

(1) Has Australia initiated any dispute resolution process involving any party to the Convention, including fellow members of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, for alleged failure to undertake efforts consistent with Article XXI of the Convention.

(2) (a) What action has Australia taken in respect to the 2002 failure by the Uruguayan Government to withdraw validated Dissostichus catch documents (DCDs), decline to validate further DCDs and stop shipments of catch from the Uruguayan-flagged vessels Dorita and Arvisa 1 that are subject to an illegal fishing investigation; (b) has the Uruguayan Government responded to Australia’s concerns; if so, what was the nature of the Uruguayan response and did the response include the outcome of an investigation of the vessels’ activities inside CCAMLR waters.

(3) What reply did the Government receive from Uruguay, the Netherlands Antilles and the Netherlands to its protest over the temporary re-flagging of the Arvisa 1 to the Netherlands Antilles. 

(4) What response did the Government receive from each of the following countries: (a) Japan; (b) Hong Kong; (c) China; (d) Mozambique; and (e) Kenya, to Australian requests that the alleged illegal toothfish catch from the Dorita and Arvisa 1 be denied access to their markets.

(5) (a) What, if any, legal action has been taken against the master and crew of the Arvisa 1 following its apprehension by the French in July 2002; and (b) did the Government provide French authorities with evidence it had gathered in January 2002, including a report of alleged illegal fishing activity, statutory statements from the captain and master of the Australian vessel Aurora Australis and photographic and auditory evidence; if not, why not. 

(6) (a) Has the Government continued to send officers to monitor landings by Australian boats unloading toothfish in Mauritius; and (b) if not, has Mauritius implemented a monitoring and validation system for the unloading of toothfish consistent with the requirements of CCAMLR; if so, when did the Mauritius implement such a system.

*1990  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation—

(1) When were Australian authorities first made aware of alleged, actual or intended illegal fishing activity by the vessel the Viarsa in Australian waters near the Heard and McDonald Islands (HIMI).

(2) What was the source of the information.

(3) When did Australian authorities authorise the Australian Fisheries Management Authority-contracted vessel the Southern Supporter to intercept the Viarsa .

(4) Where and when did the Southern Supporter first locate the Viarsa

(5) (a) What action, pursuant to what international or domestic law, did the Southern Supporter order the Viarsa to undertake; (b) when was this order made; and (c) what was the Viarsa’s response.

(6) (a) Were the Viarsa’s identifiers displayed at the time it was located by the Southern Supporter ; if so, were these identifiers later removed and when.

(7) When and how did the Viarsa first identify itself to the Southern Supporter

(8) Was authorisation from a Minister or departmental officer required before the Southern Supporter commenced its hot pursuit of the Viarsa ; if so: (a) when was this authorisation requested; (b) when was it provided; and (c) who provided it.

(9) When did the ‘hot pursuit’ of the Viarsa by the Southern Supporter commence.

(10) Why did the Minister not announce the commencement of the pursuit until 12 August 2003.

(11) With reference to the Minister’s statement on 13 May 2003 concerning armed enforcement in HIMI, was the Southern Supporter armed; if not, what capacity did the Southern Supporter have to apprehend the Viarsa without additional enforcement assistance.

(12) Was the Department of Defence asked to provide logistical or enforcement assistance in the interception of the Viarsa ; if so: (a) when was the request made; (b) what was the department’s response; and (c) what assistance was provided.

(13) (a) When did the Australian Government first make direct representations to the Uruguayan Government urging it to exercise its flag state responsibilities and require the Viarsa to accompany the Southern Supporter to the nearest Australian port; (b) what form did those representations take; (c) what was the Uruguayan Government’s initial response and when was that response received; (d) did the Uruguayan Government consent to Australia’s request that the Viarsa be ordered to accompany the Southern Supporter ; (e) did the Uruguayan Government order the Viarsa to accompany the Southern Supporter to an Australian port; if so, when was that order made and what is the source of that information. 

(14) (a) What subsequent representations did the Government make to the Uruguayan Government prior to the vessel’s apprehension; (b) what was the Uruguayan Government’s response to these representations; (c) when did the Minister make direct contact with the Uruguayan Minister for Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries; (d) what assistance did the Minister seek; (e) how did the Uruguayan Minister respond to the Minister’s request for assistance; and (f) what assistance has the Uruguayan Embassy in Canberra provided in the Viarsa matter.  

(15) Did the Uruguayan Government order the Viarsa to return to Montevideo; if so, when was that order made and what is the source of the information.

(16) (a) When was the Minister and/or his department informed that a Uruguayan Government official was aboard the Viarsa ; (b) what was the source of this information; (c) what is the name of the Uruguayan Government official and what position does the official hold; (d) what representations has the Government made to the Uruguayan Government in this matter; (e) what was the Uruguayan Government’s response; (f) when did the Uruguayan official board the Viarsa .

(17) (a) What representations has the Government received from the Uruguayan Government since the vessel’s apprehension; and (b) how has Australia responded to those representations.

(18) When did the Government first alert the secretariat of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) of the alleged illegal fishing activity by the Viarsa .

(19) (a) What assistance did the Government, through its secretariat, ask members of CCAMLR to provide in relation to the Viarsa ; (b) when was that assistance sought; and (c) what assistance, by country, was provided.

(20) (a) When did the Government first make direct representations to the South African Government seeking assistance in the apprehension of the Viarsa ; (b) what request did the Government make; (c) what response did the South African Government provide and when was it received; (d) when was the Government informed that the SA Agulhas would be directed to intercept the Viarsa ; and (d) when did the SA Agulhas join the “hot pursuit” of the Viarsa

(21) (a) When did the Government initiate commercial negotiations on the hire of the tug boat John Ross to assist in the apprehension of the Viarsa ; (b) when did the tug commence pursuit of the Viarsa ; (c) what was the composition of the crew aboard the tug; (d) did the tug operate under Australian command; (e) what was the total cost of the tug hire; (f) was the cost of hiring the tug reduced as a result of Australia’s cooperative relationship with the South African Government on illegal fishing matters; and (g) what total cost is payable to South African interests for assistance in the Viarsa matter.

(22) (a) When did the Government first make direct representations to the United Kingdom Government seeking assistance in the apprehension of the Viarsa ; (b) what request did the Government make; (b) what response did the United Kingdom Government provide and when was it received; (c) what assistance did the United Kingdom Government provide; and (d) what total cost is payable to United Kingdom interests for assistance in the Viarsa matter.

(23) When and where was the apprehension of the Viarsa effected. 

(24) (a) What was the number and composition of the crew aboard the Viarsa upon its apprehension; (b) has the Government made representations to other governments on the presence of their nationals aboard the Viarsa ; if so, what representations has the Government made and what was the response.

(25) What fish and equipment was allegedly found aboard the vessel.

(26) (a) What progress has been made in the investigation into the Viarsa’s conduct in Australian waters; and (b) where is the vessel and its crew currently located.

(27) What arrangements has the government made for the disposal of fish allegedly found aboard the vessel.

(28) How has the Government recognised the performance of the Australian officers involved in the pursuit and apprehension of the Viarsa .

(29) What was the cost of the operation to apprehend the Viarsa .

(30) What total cost has the Government incurred in the Viarsa matter, including the cost of pre-pursuit and post-apprehension operations.

(31) Will the cost of the Viarsa operation be met from the $12 million budget allocation for Southern Ocean fisheries enforcement in the 2003-04 financial year, announced by the Minister on 13 May 2003; if so, how will the operational plan for the 2003-04 financial year be amended to account for the Viarsa operation.

(32) What provision has the Government made for Southern Ocean fisheries enforcement beyond 2003-04.

*1991  Senator Bishop: To ask the Minister for Justice and Customs—With reference to the unauthorised entry to the Charles Ulm building occupied by the Australian Customs Service at Sydney airport on 27 August 2003:

(1) Was the closed circuit television (CCTV) fully operational; if so, (a) was it turned on; (b) did it record on film; and (c) were staff observing screens at the time.

(2) Were any other CCTV cameras outside the building working on the night in question, either attached to the building or any other building, which might have captured images of the intruders as they entered or left; if so, was any footage obtained of the intruders and any transport used.

(3) Does the Australian Customs Service (Customs) provide its own security guards at the entry to the building or is the function contracted out; if the latter (a) who is the contractor; (b) what is the term of the contract; and (c) what penalties are contained in the contract for breaches.

(4) At the time of the unauthorised entry, how many security personnel were in attendance.

(5) What system of entry is in place at the building ie. photographic identification only or swipe card technology.

(6) What identification checking process is in place at other Customs establishments at the airport.

(7) On the night in question, precisely what check was made of any identification presented.

(8) What security checking process is in place between Customs and all contractors, including Electronic Data Services (EDS).

(9) Are police checks required; if so, are they conducted with both state and federal police agencies.

(10) Were those who gained illegal entry dressed in any clothing identifiable as EDS uniform, or with EDS logo or badges.

(11) How many EDS staff have access to the building.

(12) What was the turnover of EDS staff engaged at Customs in Sydney, who had access to this building, during 2002-03.

(13) Are identity passes for access to the building prepared by Customs or by EDS.

(14) In this particular instance, were those seeking entry required to have a photographic pass; if so, what check was made of the validity of the passes.

(15) Has it now been concluded that any ID passes used by the intruders were forged.

(16) What new procedures have been put in place with respect to identification provision and checking within Customs and with EDS.

(17) On the night in question, how many Customs and  EDS staff were on duty in; (a) the building; and (b) on the key floor containing the mainframe infrastructure.

(18) Is access within the building restricted between floors, or is total access possible.

(19) Have all Customs and EDS staff on duty at the time been interviewed; if so, how many reported unidentified strangers on site.

(20) Was the presence of unidentified strangers reported by any Customs or EDS staff either at the time or on a subsequent occasion.

(21) What instructions exist within Customs and EDS for the identification of strangers on site.

(22) What have police investigations revealed of the identity of the intruders, their ethnic origin, and any likely connection with either terrorist or known criminal associations.

(23) Did the intruders engage in any conversations with other staff; if so, how many.

(24) Were the intruders challenged by any other member of staff at any time.

(25) Do the systems operating in the building contain records of; (a) passenger entry and exit; (b) cargo entry and exit; (c) planned passenger interceptions either personal or luggage; (d) detail of investigations of illegal imports; (e) records of interview; (f) inspection programs of air freight containers; (g) intelligence from overseas agencies; and (h) communications between all those employed in the building and all outside agencies.

(26) Is the inter agency intelligence system, ASNET, connected to any systems within the building.

(27) Is detail of the Customs activity at Port Botany and any other Customs site within Australia accessible from the building.

(28) With respect to the servers stolen; (a) what brand and type were they; (b) what was their storage capacity; and (c) was their function solely one of internal and external communication, if so, was encryption used.

(29) Was any of the information contained on the stolen servers backed up to another server; if not, why not.

(30) Did the investigations conducted by the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) reveal whether any systems had been accessed by the intruders; if so, which ones.

(31) Did DSD find whether any data and information had been down loaded onto either compact discs, floppy discs, or the two servers in question.

(32) If systems were accessed, were legitimate passwords used and how were they obtained.

(33) (a) Since 27 August 2003, what specific new security arrangements have been put in place at the building; and (b) what new arrangements have been required of EDS.

(34) What is the current status of the review of IT Security Policy in Customs, referred to in the Australian National Audit Office report No. 35, 2002-03.

(35) When was a site security plan last prepared for the building.

(36) Has a protective security risk review and a work area risk review been conducted of the building, as required in the Protective Security Manual ; if so, when.

*1992  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Health and Ageing—

(1) How many children in Australia were diagnosed formally with autistic disorder in each of the years 1983 to 2002 by: (a) age group; and (b) state and territory.

(2) How many children in Australia were diagnosed formally with Asperger’s syndrome in each of the years 1983 to 2002 by: (a) age group; and (b) state and territory.

(3) How many children in Australia were diagnosed formally with pervasive developmental disorders and/or autism spectrum disorders in each of the years 1983 to 2002 by: (a) age group; and (b) state and territory.

(4) (a) Can an explanation be provided for the disparity in Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data from 1998 that shows adult rates of autism spectrum disorder to be significantly lower that those for children, given that this is a life-long condition; and (b) to what extent can the disparity be attributed to better diagnosis.

(5) Does the Government agree with recent comments by Professor Fiona Stanley that there is an epidemic of autism; if so, what is the extent of the epidemic.

(6) With reference to the December 2002 report of the Employment, Workplace Relations and Education References Committee, ‘Education of students with disabilities’, which cites the incidents of autism as 27 to 93 per population of 10 000, to what extent does the Government regard autism spectrum disorder as a health problem.

(7) What are the assumptions that underlie the fact that in Australian Bureau of Statistics statistics, children with autism are grouped with those with intellectual disability.

(8) Is the Government aware that a survey of paediatricians in Victoria in 2002 identified autism as one of the more difficult areas of practice.

(9) What measures has the Government adopted for ensuring that children with autism spectrum disorders receive effective, evidence-based treatment for their condition.

(10) Is the Government aware that the Medical Journal of Australia editorial, 2003, said in relation to autism spectrum disorder: ‘The early intervention that has been subjected to the most rigorous assessment is behavioural intervention. There is now definite evidence that behavioural intervention improves cognitive, communication, adaptive and social skills in young children with autism. Most young children with autism in Australia do not receive intensive behavioural intervention programs - partly because such programs are not recommended by many health professionals and partly because of their prohibitive cost for families’.

(11) What efforts have been made by the Commonwealth to see that: (a) health professionals are adequately informed in the diagnoses and treatment of children with autism spectrum disorder; (b) affordable, evidence-based early intervention from specialist behavioural psychologists is available for all children with autism spectrum disorders; and (c) all children with autism spectrum disorders can readily access appropriate early intervention and treatment such as speech therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy.

(12) With reference to the establishment by the United Kingdom Government of specialist research institutes for autism spectrum disorders, has the Government considered doing so in Australia; if not, why not.

(13) (a) What research is currently underway; and (b) what is planned in the future looking into the cause, diagnosis and/or treatment of autism spectrum disorders in Australia.

*1993  Senator Lees: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs—With reference to the tendering process currently underway for Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement (South Australia) services:

(1) Given that the timeline provided by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Service (ATSIS) to the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement (ALRM) has already been compromised by a delay in calling for tenders, will the deadline be extended to 3 months from the date tenders are called, or will the September deadline for tenders stand.

(2) Will ALRM be offered a further grant for the remainder of 2003-04 financial year.

(3) (a) Has ALRM been informed in writing by ATSIS officials that the tendering timetable also states that the new contracts would be awarded in late November 2003 and a contract would come into effect in January 2004.

(4) Can the Minister explain why that timetable has not been kept, and what timetable will now apply to the tendering of Aboriginal legal services in South Australia.

(5) Is the Minister aware of correspondence from the Chief Executive Officer of ALRM, dated 22 August 2003, which expresses great concerns about that timetable.

(6) (a) Is the Minister concerned about a tendering process in May 2003, during which ATSIS officials told ALRM that ‘this is a timetable that may be achieved. It must be understood that any of the above projected dates could change; and the part or all of the process described might not eventuate’; (b) given that the livelihood of staff and the legal outcomes for clients are likely to be affected by the tendering process and any changes it produces, how does the Minister intend to ensure that a more appropriate, clear and reasonable description will be forthcoming from ATSIC and/or ATSIS in its tendering process of this service in the future.

(7) What provision does the Minister intend to make regarding ALRM’s accrued liabilities, including staff entitlements to long-service and other leave which amount to at least $412 000, for which ATSIS and ATSIC have been unable to make proper provision in the past.

(8) (a) Is the Minister aware that ALRM has expressed concerns to ATSIS (letter dated 4 July 2003) that its accrued and unprovided for liabilities have the potential to severely jeopardise its ability to take part in the tendering process; and (b) will the Minister take to ensure that ALRM is not severely jeopardised; if so, what will that action be.

(9) (a) Given the amount of grant funding provided by ATSIS to ALRM for the period 1 July to 31 December 2003 and the amount of those accrued liabilities, is the Minister aware that ALRM has warned ATSIS that it may have to cease trading at the end of October 2003 in order to meet these accrued liabilities; and (b) is the Minister prepared to allow this process to force ALRM to cease trading as a result of these unmet liabilities.

(10) Given that ALRM has warned ATSIS that it would require at least 8 weeks prior to that time to arrange for proper transfer of all client matters and legal files of some 7 000 matters to alternative legal providers: (a) Has ATSIS advised the Minister of this correspondence; and (b) has ATSIS or the Minister proposed any solutions as to how these issues of transition will be dealt with.

(11) Does the Minister agree with ALRM that the process of tendering should be deferred at least until the end of the 2003-04 financial year, in order that it may be undertaken in a measured and prudent manner, thus avoiding risk of harm to clients and ALRM’s employees; if not: (a) why not; and (b) how will this timeline pressure, without disadvantaging ALRM staff and clients, be addressed.

(12) Given that ATSIS and ATSIC have described themselves to the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement Inc. as a ‘supplementary funder of legal services’: (a) can an explanation of this relationship be provided; and (b) what, if any, consultation has the Minister had with the State Government of South Australia about its view that this is an area of Commonwealth responsibility.

(13) How does the Minister intend to ensure that the tendering process, in future, will provide adequate funding to ALRM.

(14) What steps are being considered to secure funding from other sources for ALRM in South Australia.

(15) Given that the staff and management of ALRM have chosen to maintain existing staffing levels, as far as possible, and to maintain service delivery, and that since 1992, other than slight safety net increases from 1998, staff wages have not increased: Will the Minister now ensure sufficient funding for wage parity between equivalent legal officers and para-legal officers at the Legal Services Commission of South Australia and those employed by ALRM.

(16) Did the strategic National State Directions Strategy of the ATSIS Law and Justice Branch state that the Office of Evaluation and Audit within ATSIC has estimated that the gap between the funding of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS) and the funding required to make them commensurate with mainstream legal services, is in the order of $22 million.

(17) Does the Minister agree with ATSIS that ‘these funds are not likely to be made available; if they are not likely to be made available, why.

(18) What is the Minister’s response to the recommendations of ALRM (through review processes, workshops and meetings with ATSIC and through direct submissions to ATSIC since May 2001), for the creation of a National Professional Indemnity Insurance Scheme for ATSILS throughout Australia in the interests of prudent financial management, in the provision of Aboriginal Legal Services nationwide.

(19) (a) Does the Minister agree that under the ‘Enterprise Bargaining Agreement’ covering employees of ATSIC, now transferred to ATSIS, the equivalent wages and conditions for employees are to be maintained.

(20) Given that, as an ATSIS funded organisation, ALRM is not able to provide an enterprise bargaining agreement or wage increases to its staff because ATSIC and/or ATSIS does not provide the necessary funding increase to allow for such wage increases: how will the Minister ensure provision is made to rectify this inequity.

(21) (a) Is the Minister satisfied with ATSIC’s response to requests for further funding to cover the cost of an enterprise bargaining agreement, that in comparison to other under-funded ATSILS throughout Australia, ALRM is in no worse or better position than any other; and (b) does this mean that the funding provided to ATSILS across the country similarly impairs the enterprise bargaining processes these organisations.

(22) (a) Has the Minister initiated any studies to be undertaken of the effectiveness of the contestability policy of ATSIC and/or ATSIS in relation to Aboriginal Legal Services; if so: (i) what studies were initiated, (ii) when were they undertaken, and (iii) what do these they show.

(23) Given that the Indigenous people of South Australia are among the most disadvantaged, distressed, over-imprisoned and stressed communities in this State: what consideration has been given to the question of whether managed competition, through quasi internal markets, is a suitable response to the provision of legal services to Indigenous people.

(24) Has the Minister recognised the particular expertise and experience of the existing staff of ALRM to provide specialised legal assistance to the Indigenous client group.

(25) Has the Minister appraised whether the private legal profession of South Australia is in a position to provide such specialist services at a cost equivalent to that provided by ALRM: if so, what is the Minister’s appraisal and in regard to this, will the Minister consider the view of the office of Evaluation and Audit within ATSIC, that ALRM provides approximately $9.2 million worth of legal services per annum, at an aggregate cost of $3.4 million.

(26) (a) Does the Minister favour the implementation of the Royal Commission in Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, recommendation no. 195, ‘that, subject to appropriate provision to ensure accountability to government for funds received, payments by Government to Aboriginal organisations and communities be made on the basis of triennial or quarterly funding’; (b) does the Minister recognise the advantages for Aboriginal organisations of triennial rather than annual funding cycles; and (c) what is the Minister’s intention in his oversight of ATSIS with respect to the provision of triennial funding, and the implementation of the Royal Commission’s recommendation no. 195, particularly as it applies to ATSILS.

(27) Given that the 1998 amendments of the Native Title Act 1993 provided for detailed and specific laws governing the transfer of business between Native Title representative bodies, in the circumstance that one representative body was deregistered and another one was to take its place for a particular area [see section 203FC of the Act , which allows the Commonwealth Minister to issue directions by written instrument] and in the event that the existing ATSILS do not win a contract for the provision of legal services, and in relation to the ATSIL’s contestability policy of the Commonwealth: What consideration has been given to the passing of similar legislation to that quoted above, in relation to the ongoing files held by solicitors employed or retained by the existing ATSILS.

(28) Does the Minister recognise the primary obligation and duty of solicitors employed or retained by existing ATSILS to their clients and their need to safeguard the interest of their clients in the event that ATSILS, which employ or retain them, do not obtain a contract for the provision of services.

(29) What provision has the Minister, through ATSIS, made for this scenario, having regard to the existing obligations of solicitors to their clients.

(30) What specific consideration has the Minister given to the question of allowing for the incorporation, or creation by statute, of specific corporations to carry out ATSILS functions in the states and territories.

(31) What consideration has been given, and what negotiations have occurred, for cooperation with the states on the question of creation by statute of such bodies within the states and territories.

(32) Have any studies or research been initiated on the desirability of incorporated legal practices being established by state, Commonwealth or territory law to provide for the efficient running of community controlled ATSILS.

(33) What consideration has been given to the incorporation of not-for-profit legal practices in the current Standing Committee of Attorneys-General project on incorporated legal practices.

Senator Lees: To ask the Ministers listed below (Question Nos *1994-*1995)—With regard to the current action to recover legal costs from Mr Darryl Sumner:

(1) Given the attitude of the nineteen other parties, all of whom have waived their right to costs in this matter, as well as the desirability of achieving closure on the longstanding and acrimonious Hindmarsh Island dispute: will the Minister demonstrate a practical approach to reconciliation by waiving Mr Sumner’s debt; if not, why does the Commonwealth of Australia continue to pursue Mr Sumner.

(2) Why did the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs not support Mr Sumner’s submission for the waiver of costs in this case.

(3) Has the Minister provided Mr Sumner a copy of his letter on this matter to the Hon Peter Slipper of 13 May 2003; if so, when; if not, does the Minister intend to do so.

(4) Can the Minister for Finance and Administration table a copy of the letter of 13 May 2003 to the Hon Peter Slipper regarding the waiver request.

(5) Has the Minister informed Mr Sumner of the reason or reasons why he did not support the waiver.

(6) Does the Minister consider, given the circumstances and the process of reconciliation, that pursuing Mr Sumner to the point of bankruptcy will achieve little other than acrimony between the Minister, the Ngarrindjerri people and Mr Sumner.

(7) Given its potential damage to these relationships and the reconciliation process: will the Minister explain the reasons for the pursuit of Mr Sumner.

(8) In the interests of furthering the process of reconciliation in Australia, will the Ministers reconsider the decision not to assist Mr Sumner, by ensuring his costs debt is waived in this case.

*1994 Minister for Finance and Administration

*1995 Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs

*1996  Senator Webber: To ask the Minister for Health and Ageing—Is the Government committed to continuing the funding of the Community  Midwifery Program in Western Australia beyond the 2003-04 financial year, under the National Women’s Health Program; if so, when can a decision be expected; if not, why not.

*1997  Senator Hutchins: To ask the Minister representing the Treasurer—

(1) Are any officials, employees, advisors or contracted staff of the department entitled to any monetary loans, discount or otherwise, from the Treasury, the Reserve Bank or any other Commonwealth agency; if so, can the details and nature of such monetary loans including interest rates and fees be provided.

(2) Do any current or former officials, employees, advisors or contracted staff of the department currently have, or have they ever had, any monetary loan arrangements, discount or otherwise, with the Treasury, the Reserve Bank or any other Commonwealth agency; if so, can the details and nature of such monetary loans be provided, including interest rates and fees.

*1998  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry—

(1) Does the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) receive advice from Livecorp on all withdrawals of accreditation and accreditation downgrades under the Live Export Accreditation Program (LEAP).

 (2) Can details of all such accreditation withdrawals be provided for each of the following financial years; 2000-01, 2001-02 and 2002-03, including for each withdrawal: (a) the name of the company; (b) reason for withdrawal; and (c) consequential action by AQIS.

(3) Can details of all such accreditation downgrades be provided for each of the following financial years: 2000-01, 2001-02 and 2002-03, including for each downgrade: (a) the name of the company; (b) change in accreditation level; (d) reason for downgrade; and (d) consequential action by AQIS.

*1999  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry—Which countries have banned, suspended or varied conditions of export for Australian live animals since 1996; and in each case, can details of the ban, suspension or variation, including date of action and basis of action, be provided.

*2000  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry—

(1) What action has been taken to investigate claims of serious animal cruelty involving Australian export cattle slaughtered at the abattoir in Bassatin, Egypt.

(2) When did the Minister, his office and his department become aware of claims of animal cruelty at the abattoir involving Australian export cattle.

(3) (a) What action has been taken to improve animal welfare practices at the abattoir; (b) what improved animal welfare practices have resulted from this action; and (c) what is the source of information about these improved practices.

*2001  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry—With reference to allegations of misreporting of live export mortality numbers aboard a journey of the Al-Khaleej in 2001, aired on 60 Minutes on 27 July 2003:

(1) (a) When did the Minister, his office and his department first become aware of allegations of misreporting of mortality numbers relating to this shipment; and (b) in each case, what was the source of this information.

(2) (a) When did the Minister, his office and his department first become aware that Livecorp has instigated an independent investigation of the allegations; and (b) in each case, what was the source of the information.

(3) (a) When did the Livecorp investigation commence and what are its terms of reference; and (b) what was the source of this information.

(4) If applicable: (a) when did the Livecorp investigation conclude; (b) when did the Minister receive the report; (c) what is the outcome of the investigation; (d) can a copy of the investigation report be provided; and (e) what consequential action has Livecorp and/or the Minister taken.

(5) When did the Minister direct the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) Compliance Unit to undertake an inquiry into the allegations concerning the Al-Khaleej .

(6) (a) What terms of reference did the Minister establish for the inquiry; and (b) when were these terms of reference established.

(7) When did the inquiry commence.

(8) If applicable: (a) when did the inquiry conclude; (b) what findings and recommendations did it make; and (c) what consequential action has the Minister taken.

(9) If the inquiry has concluded, can a copy of the report be provided; if not, why not. 

(10) If the inquiry has not concluded, when does the Minister expect it will conclude and will a copy of the inquiry report be made available; if not, why not.

(11) In respect to the journey of the Al-Khaleef subject to inquiry: (a) can the following information be provided: (i) date of departure, (ii) export licence holder, (iii) loading port/s, (iii) destination port/s, (iv) voyage length, (v) number and type of animals exported, (vi) reported mortality number, (vii) reported mortality rate, and (viii) reported explanation for mortality; (b) what is the source of this information; and (c) when was the mortality data reported to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) and/or AQIS.

(12) What mortality number and rate was initially reported to: (a) Saudi authorities; (b) the export licence holder; and (c) Livecorp, and, in each case, when were these reports made and when did the department become aware of the report figures.

(13) What, if any, revised mortality data was reported to: (a) Saudi authorities; (b) the export licence holder and (c) Livecorp and in each case, when were these reports made and on what date did the department become aware of the report figures.

(14) What was the actual mortality number and rate aboard the Al-Khaleej ; and, if different from the reported mortality data, what is the explanation for the difference.

*2002  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry—With reference to the suspension of Australian livestock exports to Saudi Arabia in August 2003:

(1) (a) When did the Minister, his office and his department become aware that the health of sheep aboard the MV Cormo Express was subject to a dispute with the Saudi authorities; (b) what was the source of this information.

(2) (a) When did Saudi authorities first inspect the livestock aboard the MV Cormo Express ; and (b) what is the source of this information.

(3) When did the Saudi authorities advise the exporter that they were not satisfied with the condition of the livestock aboard the vessel.

(4) (a) What number of animals, and what percentage of the shipment, did the Saudi authorities allege were afflicted with scabby mouth; and (b) were other health problems identified by the authorities; if so, can details be provided of the problems and number afflicted.

(5) Did the department investigate the claim, reported in the Arab News of 26 August 2003, that the livestock were affected by stomatitis; if so, what was the result of that investigation.

(6) (a) What number of animals, and what percentage of the shipment, did the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS)-approved veterinarian aboard the vessel allege were afflicted with scabby mouth; and (b) were other health problems identified by the veterinarian; if so, can details of the problems and number afflicted be provided.

(7) In respect to the journey of the MV Cormo Express , can the following information be provided: (a) name and registered address of export licence holder; (b) when the exporter lodged with AQIS and Livecorp a notice of intention to export livestock to Saudi Arabia pursuant to the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry (Live Sheep and Goat Exports to Saudi Arabia) Order 2002 (the Order); (c) when the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry issued a certificate of origin for the livestock pursuant to the Order; (d) the date AQIS issued a health certificate for the livestock pursuant to the Order; (e) date of departure; (f) loading port/s; (f) destination port/s; (g) voyage length; (h) number and type of animals exported; (i) reported mortality number; (j) reported mortality rate; (k) source of mortality data; and (l) date of mortality data reporting.

(8) (a) When did the department and Australian Embassy officials meet with Saudi Agriculture Ministry officials to discuss the rejection of the shipment; (b) what representations did officials make to the Saudi Agriculture Ministry; and (c) what was the nature of the response.

(9) What role did the Australian Government play in securing an alternative buyer for the livestock aboard the MV Cormo Express .

(10) (a) When did the MV Cormo Express depart the Port of Jeddah; (b) when did it arrive at an alternative port; (c) when were the livestock subject to an additional veterinary investigation; and (d) when were the livestock discharged from the vessel.

(11) What mortality occurred between the arrival of the MV Cormo Express at the Port of Jeddah and the eventual discharge of the livestock.

(12) When did the Minister discuss the initial rejection of the livestock with his Saudi counterpart.

(13) When did the Minister call in the Saudi Charge d’Affaires to express concern about the Saudi rejection.

(14) What has been the total cost of the Government’s response to the Saudi rejection.

(15) (a) When were live exports with Saudi Arabia suspended; and (b) when was this suspension communicated to Saudi authorities.

(16) Were any Australian live export vessels en route to Saudi Arabia when the Minister suspended the trade; if so: (a) what vessels were affected; (b) how many animals were on board each vessel; and (c) were these vessels re-directed.

(17) What conditions have been placed on the resumption of trade with Saudi Arabia.

*2003  Senator Hutchins: To ask the Minister for Health and Ageing—With reference to the assertion made on page 14 of the Report of the Export Advisory Group on Hepatitis C and Plasma that “There have been no reports of HCV in recipients of blood products made from pools of plasma that included anti-HCV positive units dispatched from the Central Coast Blood Bank to Commonwealth Serum Laboratories”: Was there a process for identifying or notifying all patients who may have received or used recalled product manufactured from hepatitis C contaminated plasma; if so, were such patients tested for HCV.

*2004  Senator Hutchins: To ask the Minister for Health and Ageing—With reference to the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) recall in 1992 of unused product manufactured from hepatitis C positive plasma arising from the ‘Gosford incident’ as reported on page 14 of the Report of the Export Advisory Group on Hepatitis C and Plasma in 1990:

(1) What was the stated reason for the recall.

(2) Which blood products and batch numbers were recalled.

(3) Was any of the plasma product Prothrombinex (Factor IX) recalled.

(4) What was the ‘class’ and ‘level’ of the recall as per the procedures described in the TGA’s Uniform Recall Procedure for Therapeutic Goods.

(5) What was the ‘strategy’ for the recall as per the procedures described within the TGA’s Uniform Recall Procedure for Therapeutic Goods.

(6) What quantity was manufactured of each of the batches that were recalled.

(7) What quantity was distributed.

(8) What quantity was used by patients.

(9) What quantity was retrieved.

(10) (a) Which blood transfusion services were notified of the recall; and (b) how were they notified.

(11) (a) Which hospitals were notified of the recall; and (b) how were they notified.

(12) (a) Which clinicians were notified of the recall; and (b) how were they notified.

(13) (a) Which patients were notified of the recall; and (b) how were they notified.

(14) (a) Which hospitals notified patients who were treated as out-patients; and (b) how were they notified.

(15) (a) Which hospitals notified patients who were treated as ‘on home therapy’; and (b) how were they notified.

(16) Were ‘at risk’ batch numbers disclosed to all patients who may have used the suspect products.

(17) What process was implemented to Hepatitis C (HCV) test all patients who may have used the at-risk batches.

(18) What measures have been taken by medical authorities to deal with the consequences of the tests for HCV.

*2005  Senator Hutchins: To ask the Minister for Health and Ageing—With reference to the Report of the Expert Advisory Group on Hepatitis C and Plasma in 1990 (the ‘Barraclough report’) and the report’s findings in relation to the so-called ‘Gosford Incident’ (Part 4.2 of the report):

(1) How much unlabelled hepatitis C positive plasma from this episode was sent to the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories (CSL) and used for manufacture into plasma products.

(2) (a) Which plasma product, or products, were manufactured from hepatitis C positive plasma from this episode; and (b) how much of each product was manufactured and distributed.

(3) Was any quantity of the plasma product Prothrombinex (Factor IX) manufactured from hepatitis C positive plasma from the ‘Gosford incident’; if so: (a) would the contaminated Prothrombinex (Factor IX) have been heat-treated; (b) at what temperature would the contaminated Prothrombinex (Factor IX) have been heat-treated; and (c) would this temperature have been adequate to ensure the heat treatment completely removed any traces of the Hepatitis C virus from the plasma product Prothrombinex (Factor IX).

(4) (a) When, exactly, was CSL informed of this problem in 1992; (b) who informed CSL of the problem; and (c) how was CSL informed of the problem.