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Notice given 29 August 2005

1108  Senator Murray: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Education, Science and Training—With reference to the committee of the whole debate in the Senate on 17 August 2005 in relation to the Skilling Australia’s Workforce Bill 2005 and, in particular, the advice provided by the Minister for the Arts and Sport (Senator Kemp) (Senate Hansard , 17 August 2005, pp 17-18):

(1) With reference to Minister Kemp’s statement that ‘all money appropriated under the Skilling Australia’s Workforce Bill 2005 goes to the states and territories’: What audit mechanism does the Government have in place to supervise this process.

(2) By what mechanism does the ‘ministerial council … reallocate some of the money back to the Australian government’.

(3) By what statutory authority does the Ministerial Council ‘reallocate some of the money’.

(4) Of the money which is reallocated ‘back to the Australian government’: (a) on what basis does the Government receive this money; (b) by what authority does the Government then expend this money; and (c) how and where is that receipt and expenditure reported and audited.

(5) (a) What is the statutory authority for the subsequent disbursement of funds for ‘projects under strategic national initiatives’; (b) what are strategic national initiatives; and (c) where are they defined, listed and reported on.

(6) With reference to the statement ‘any advertising campaign … would need to be endorsed by the state and territory governments’: (a) where are those ‘endorsements’ notified; and (b) by what means are these ‘endorsements’ reported to Parliament.

(7) (a) Who will audit the kind of expenditure foreshadowed by Minister Kemp (‘may decide to reallocate’ and ‘any advertising campaign … would need to be endorsed’); and (b) where will those audit reports be published.

1111  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Treasurer—With reference to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into the affordability and availability of housing for families and individuals wishing to purchase their first home for which the terms of reference noted that ‘the Government appreciates that home ownership is highly valued by Australian families and individuals’ and that ‘the ability to achieve home ownership continues to be of vital importance in maintaining family and social stability’.

(1) Did the Government, in referring the matter to the Productivity Commission, consider that housing affordability was a matter of national importance to the Government; if so, why did the Government then conclude in its response in June 2004 that, ‘the majority of the Commission’s recommendations relate to the supply side of the housing market and are therefore directed at State and local governments’.

(2) What was the cost of the Productivity Commission inquiry.

(3) Does the Government intend to proceed with any further action on the problem of housing affordability; if so, what action.

(4) Does the Government agree with the recent suggestion made by the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia to the effect that young people should leave Sydney because housing affordability is so bad.

(5) (a) What was the result of the recent meeting of Housing Ministers in Adelaide; and (b) can details be provided of the framework agreed to at that meeting.

(6) What does the framework commit the Government to in regard to public housing.

(7) What does the framework commit the Government to do about housing affordability in the private rental and home ownership markets.

(8) Has the Government considered: (a) indexing the First Home Owners Grant to rising house prices; (b) abolishing the practice of tax on tax (stamp duty on the Goods and Services Tax); (c) adjusting stamp duty scales for property to account for rising house prices; and (d) establishing a task force of federal and state governments, community and industry, to review the report of the Productivity Commission and make specific recommendations to governments to be applied consistently across Australia.

1112  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Heritage—With reference to the reduction of the Government vehicle fleet by 1 500 vehicles since 2001:

(1) How was this reduction achieved.

(2) Are efforts being made to achieve further reductions; if so, what are these efforts.

Senator Allison: To ask the Ministers listed below (Question Nos 1113-1115)—

(1) Will the Government, as part of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (APPCDC), introduce new industry development mechanisms to accelerate the generation of wind power, as proposed on 17 August 2005 by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), whose members include the American Wind Energy Association, Australian Wind Energy Association, Canadian Wind Energy Association, Japanese Wind Power Association, Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association, European Wind Energy Association, Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association and Japanese Wind Energy Association.

(2) Does the Government agree with GWEC’s prediction that Australia’s wind energy industry will be brought to a standstill in 2007 if market measures remain unchanged.

(3) Does the Government agree that Australia is well-placed to become the renewable energy hub of the Asia-Pacific region, resulting in billions of dollars of investment and export income, and hundreds of new jobs, especially in rural and regional Australia.

(4) Does the Government acknowledge that the cost of wind energy has dropped 50 per cent in 15 years and on current trends in major markets is on course to be cost-competitive with conventional fuels within a decade.

(5) Does the Government agree that it is desirable to remove the obstacles and market distortions that currently constrain the wind industry’s potential; if so, what action is proposed to ensure the continued development of wind power generation beyond 2007.

(6) In recognising the importance of addressing climate change under the APPCDC, what evidence is there that suggests that ‘clean coal’ technologies and nuclear power are ‘practical ways that promote economic development’, as quoted by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Downer) in a joint statement with the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, dated 11 August 2005.

(7) Does the inclusion of nuclear power and clean coal in the suite of technologies to be included as examples of technology cooperation with other members of the APPCDC, indicate that these technologies are likely to be as cost-competitive and readily implemented as wind power; if so, what evidence does the Government rely on in forming this view.

(8) (a) What criteria will be used to assess the technologies to be funded under the Low Emissions Technology Fund; and (b) if the criteria are yet to be established, what is the process to do so and over what time frame.

(9) Will short term abatement be one of those criteria; if not, why not.

(10) If there is to be ‘no setting of arbitrary goals or timelines’, are any goals or time frames proposed to be developed under the APPCDC.

1113 Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs

1115 Minister for the Environment and Heritage

1116  Senator Nettle: To ask the Minister for Defence—

(1) Has the department prepared plans for military engagement in either North Korea or Iran.

(2) Have any personnel from the Australian Defence Force (ADF) or the department been consulted in relation to CONPLAN 8022-02.

(3) Has the department received a copy of the 2005 version of the Joint Publication 3-12, Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations by the United States (US) Joint Chiefs of Staff.

(4) Has any section of the ADF ever participated in training with US submarines of the SSBN Ohio Class; if so, which training exercises.

(5) Do SSBN Ohio Class submarines enter Australia’s exclusive economic zone; if so, can details be provided for when and where.

(6) Is the US Navy required to advise the Australian Government if an SSBN submarine wishes to enter Australian territorial waters; if so: (a) what procedures are followed by the US Navy; (b) who do they notify; and (c) what procedures does the Government then follow.

(7) Are there any bilateral agreements between the US and Australian Governments that allow the entry of an SSBN submarine into an Australian port.

(8) Is the Government aware of which SSN submarines are certified to carry nuclear weapons; if so, can details be provided.

(9) Have Australian forces conducted any training with US forces that include scenarios involving the use of nuclear weapons; if so, can details be provided.

1117  Senator Nettle: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing—With reference to the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) monitoring of nuclear-powered submarines and warships to Australia: Can the department provide details of all radiation monitoring data collected since 1996 by ARPANSA in relation to the monitoring of nuclear-powered submarines and warships to Australia.