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Notice given 7 September 2005

1149  Senator Siewert: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations—

(1) For each of the financial years 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09, what is the estimated number of income support recipients who will complete their second round of Job Network Intensive Support customised assistance and undertake the proposed ‘test of genuineness’ for very long-term unemployed people in the welfare to work measures announced in the 2005-06 Budget.

(2) What criteria will be used by Job Network agencies to assess whether very long-term unemployed people pass the ‘genuineness test’.

(3) (a) What weighting will be given to the criteria described in (2) above; and (b) what monitoring, review and appeal processes will apply to these decisions.

(4) Is there a time limit on the maximum period of ‘full time Work for the Dole’ people can be required to undertake.

(5) Under what circumstances could the standard 10 month period of ‘full time Work for the Dole’ be extended further.


 1150  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Treasurer—

(1) Has the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) finalised its negotiations with Imperial Tobacco in relation to the use of the descriptors ‘light’ and ‘mild’; if not, when is it expected that these negotiations will be finalised; if so, what was the outcome.

(2) When will Imperial Tobacco stop using the descriptors ‘light’ and ‘mild’ on their tobacco products.

(3) What contribution will Imperial Tobacco make to fund anti-smoking information campaigns and programs concerning low-yield cigarettes.

(4) If no progress has been made with Imperial Tobacco over misleading descriptors, will legal action be mounted by the ACCC against Imperial Tobacco; if not, why not.

(5) What actions will the ACCC take to investigate reports that British America Tobacco cigarettes with the descriptors ‘light’ on their packaging were still available for sale in Australia in August 2005, despite the company agreeing to remove the descriptors from 31 May 2005.

(6) What is the status of the anti-smoking information campaign funded by British Tobacco and Phillip Morris.

1151  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing—

(1) Is the Minister aware of the ‘Quality in Australian Health Care Study’ published by Wilson et al in 1995 in the Medical Journal of Australia which estimated that 470 000 admissions to hospitals occur annually in Australia because of medical mistakes.

(2) Is the Minister aware that this study also estimated that these admissions were associated with 18 000 deaths and 50 000 patients being permanently disabled to a greater or lesser extent.

(3) (a) What data is available on the number and/or proportion of patients in Australia that suffer from serious adverse effects or die from medical mistakes each year; and (b) how does this compare with other comparable countries.

(4) Has the Minister raised this matter with state and territory health ministers; if not, will the Minister do so.

(5) What other action is the Government taking to reduce the number of adverse events associated with medical interventions.

1152  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Justice and Customs—

(1) Can details be provided of the project awarded to Hillsong Emerge Ltd for the Greater Blacktown Community Partnership Youth project for the amount of $414 479 under the Community Partnership Stream.

(2) Will religious practice be a feature of this project.

(3) What ‘community enhancement’ will be conducted as crime prevention strategies.

(4) What role, if any, did the Member for Greenway (Mrs Markus) have in the project and decisions about its funding.

(5) Is it the case that Mrs Markus was previously employed by Hillsong Emerge Ltd.

(6) What, if any, other projects have been awarded to Hillsong Emerge Ltd under the Community Partnership Stream.

Senator Allison: To ask the Ministers listed below (Question Nos 1154-1155)—

(1) Is the Minister aware that the University of Western Sydney (UWS) has dropped its podiatry course due to lack of funding.

(2) Given the shortage of podiatrists, has the Minister made representations to the UWS on the matter.

(3) Has the Government considered providing funding to reinstate the course.

1154 Minister representing the Minister for Education, Science and Training

1155 Minister representing the Minister for Education, Science and Training

1156  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Education, Science and Training—

(1) Is the Minister aware of the technologies, such as speech synthesis, organisational software and voice recognition programs, that are now available and successfully assist students with learning disabilities.

(2) Is the Minister aware that in 1988, the United States Congress passed the Technology Related Assistance for Individuals Act, the main aim of which was to provide financial assistance to the states to develop programs for people with disabilities.

(3) Will the Minister consider taking similar action in Australia, given the Government’s interest in improving literacy in Australian schools.

(4) Would the Minister consider funding for systematic screening of students to identify those who benefit from assistive technology in the classroom environment.

(5) Does the Minister consider that students with disabilities, who would benefit from learning assistive technology, would be entitled to it under the recently gazetted educational standards regulations; if not, why not.

1157  Senator Carr: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Education, Science and Training—

(1) Are officials from the department currently negotiating with the Maralinga Tjarutja to pay them for taking back the Maralinga site.

(2) (a) Is it correct that officials offered $4.4 million; and (b) has the final amount been settled; if so, what is the agreed amount.

(3) Has money been budgeted for this payment; if so, where is it recorded in the 2005-06 Budget.

(4) Has any of this money been committed to a resource centre; if so, how much.

(5) (a) What feasibility studies have been undertaken to maximise the chances of success for such a centre; and (b) can copies of these studies be provided.

(6) What measures have been taken to ensure that necessary training and management skills are available to the community.

1158  Senator Carr: To ask the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs—

(1) Has the Minister been a party to discussions with the Minister for Education, Science and Training, aimed at offering Maralinga Tjarutja millions of dollars to take back the Maralinga site.

(2) Has the Minister used the department’s resources to undertake due diligence on the success of such a venture, including reference to necessary skills and training.

(3) Has the Minister used the department’s resources to assess if the resource centre, if effectively managed, is viable.

(4) Has the Minister used the department’s resources to assess if a payment of many millions of dollars to the Maralinga Tjarutja for a resource centre compares favourably with other competing Indigenous funding requests.

(5) Will a decision be made to endorse the Department of Education, Science and Training proposal before the above 3 assessments are made.

1159  Senator Stott Despoja: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing—

(1) Given that at least one Pregnancy Help counselling service advertises that its volunteers undertake an accredited course run by the Australian Federation of Pregnancy Support Services (AFPSS) and that this course is funded by the Government; can the Minister advise: (a) with whom is this training accredited; and (b) whether it is possible to obtain a copy of the training program.

(2) Given that the same Pregnancy Help counselling service also advertises that its volunteers are ‘overseen’ by trained professionals; can the Minister advise: (a) the names of these trained professionals; (b) their qualifications; and (c) what this ‘overseeing’ involves, for example, is the ‘overseeing’ done on a weekly, monthly, annual or other basis.

(3) Are there requirements in place to ensure more regular supervision of volunteers.

(4) Are there guidelines in place to set out: (a) who the volunteers report to; and (b) how regularly they should report back to the appropriate person/s.

(5) Can the Minister advise whether volunteers and staff at pregnancy counselling services which receive direct or indirect Government funding, for example through the AFPSS, are required to: (a) abide by accredited guidelines for pregnancy counselling; if so, can details be provided, including which organisation sets out the guidelines and what the guidelines cover; (b) provide information about pregnancy options, that is, pregnancy continuation and pregnancy termination, which is based on reliable research and guidelines provided by such reputable organisations as the World Health Organization or the National Health and Medical Research Council; (c) provide appropriate referral for pregnancy options, that is, pregnancy continuation and pregnancy termination, to women requesting these options; (d) be members of an accredited body, for example the Australian Counselling Association, the Australian Psychological Society, or the Australian Association of Social Workers; and (e) be accredited with a professional body such as the Telephone Support, Information and Counselling Association, the peak body for services which predominantly run their services by phone.

(6) If applicable, can details be provided of any other training and/or professional development that volunteers and staff are required to undergo, or which is offered to volunteers and staff; for example, is there a requirement that volunteers and staff regularly update their training; if so, how often is training updated.

(7) If applicable, can copies be provided of the guidelines and/or application forms which assist the department in determining: (a) which pregnancy counselling services should receive government funding; and (b) how much each organisation and/or peak body receives.

(8) Are there mechanisms in place to address client complaints at those pregnancy counselling services which receive direct or indirect government funding; if so, can details be provided of these complaint processes.

1160  Senator Siewert: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Education, Science and Training—

(1) How many applications were made in round 1 in May 2005 and round 2 in August 2005 for funding for the installation of air conditioning under the Investing in Our Schools Program: (a) in Western Australia; and (b) nationally.

(2) Will these applications be assessed, individually and cumulatively, against their impact on climate change from increasing greenhouse gas emissions; if not, why not.

(3) Will the Government, where appropriate, review the guidelines for the assessment of the funding applications to make express reference to evaluation against environmental impact.

(4) Will the Government introduce energy audits as part of this process to provide information on energy efficiency or other measures which could be introduced to complement or replace air conditioning systems.

1162  Senator Bob Brown: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry—

(1) (a) Has the department received any complaints from Dr Warwick Grave regarding the performance of the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service when Angora City (Rabbits) Pty Ltd imported angora rabbits into Australia; and (b) is there any on-going investigation of these complaints.

(2) Have there been any changes to the procedures of AQIS in response to the problems that were raised by Dr Grave.

(3) Given that Dr Grave has written to the Leader of The Nationals (Mr Vaile), requesting that there be a royal commission into the performance of AQIS, will such a commission be established.

(4) (a) Does AQIS screen rabbits for epizootic rabbit enterocolitis (ERE); and (b) is ERE screened for by quarantine authorities in other countries.

1163  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General—

(1) Does the Government consider that it has a duty to ensure that Mr David Hicks receives a fair trial in accordance with internationally-accepted standards of legal process and justice; if not, why not.

(2) Does the Government agree with the Law Institute of Victoria’s assertion that Mr Hicks will not receive a fair and just trial by the proposed United States of America (US) military commission; if not, why not; if so, what steps have been taken to have Mr Hicks returned to Australia to face charges laid, or to guarantee a fair trial in the US.

(3) What was the Government’s response to criticisms of the military commission by former US military prosecutors Captain John Carr, Major Robert Preston and Australian Defence Force lawyer Captain Paul Willee QC.

(4) What is the Government’s response to the specific criticisms that in the military commission:

(a) the rules of evidence will not apply in hearings;

(b) any evidence can be heard that would have probative value to a reasonable person including statements obtained from detainees under alleged torture;

(c) evidence from former Guantanamo Bay detainees may still be admitted to proceedings in written statements despite being fundamentally compromised and unreliable;

(d) former detainee witnesses are unlikely to be willing to return to Guantanamo Bay to be cross-examined or questioned by Mr Hicks’ defence team.

(e) such cross-examination will be necessary to establish the probative value of the statements provided, interrogation techniques used, and whether or not statements were made voluntarily and without duress.

(f) there is a lack of legal qualifications of commission members;

(g) the two-thirds majority required to determine Mr Hicks’ verdict, given that only three commission members remain following the US Government’s decision not to replace the three successfully challenged on the grounds of lack of independence;

(h) there is a lack of a reliable, independent inquiry into allegations by Mr Hicks of torture;

(i) there is a lack of an independent review of the US Government’s procedures and operations at Guantanamo Bay;

(j) the US denies requests to visit detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay; and

(k) there are accusations of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, arbitrary detention, violation of their rights to health and due process rights, many of which have come to light in declassified US documents.

(5) Does the Government accept the US classification of Mr Hicks as an ‘enemy combatant’; if so, why; if not, what representation has been made to the US Government on the matter.

(6) Why does the Geneva Convention not apply to Mr Hicks.

(7) (a) What is the Government’s definition of ‘harsh interrogation techniques’; and (b) how does this differ from torture under Australian law.

(8) Has the Government sanctioned the use of the harsh interrogation techniques used on Mr Hicks.

(9) What advice, if any, did the Government seek or receive on the acceptability of harsh interrogation techniques under the Geneva Convention.

(10) What are the implications for basic civil rights in Australia from the lack of fairness being afforded to Mr Hicks.