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Notice given 30 November 2005

*1401  Senator Stott Despoja: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs—

(1) How long did it take the Kuwait officials to grant Australian consular access to Mr Talaal Adrey, and what were the reasons for this delay.

(2) Given public allegations that Mr Adrey had been subjected to torture, why did a medical practitioner not accompany consular officials when they visited Mr Adrey in May 2005.

(3) With reference to the statement by the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs (Mr Billson) that consular officials, following their visit, had concluded that Mr Adrey was in good health; is it usual practice to rely on the assessment of non-medical personnel to assess whether an Australian has been tortured.

(4) With reference to Mr Billson’s statement that the consular officials did notice some physical evidence consistent with Mr Adrey’s allegation that he had been tortured, what physical condition did the consular officials note.

(5) (a) What steps has the Government taken to investigate Mr Adrey’s allegation that he was tortured; and (b) has the Government raised these allegations and sought a response from the Kuwaiti Government.

(6) What steps has the Government taken to ascertain if there is any substance to Mr Adrey’s allegation that a Westerner was present during his torture.

(7) Does the Government have any normal procedure for responding to allegations of torture by Australian citizens; if so, what is that protocol.

(8) For the past 5 years, how many Australians is the Minister aware of who allege that they have been tortured outside of Australia.

(9) Does the suggestion made at the estimates hearings of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee on 1 June 2005, that Mr Adrey’s family never asked for a doctor to be taken to assess his health, contradict family assertions that such a request was made.

(10) Does the Minister deny that a request from Mr Adrey’s family was made.

(11) Given that Mr Adrey’s family speak virtually no English: (a) how have Government officials communicated with them; and (b) has an interpreter been present.

*1402  Senator Evans: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing—

(1) (a) Can a brief summary be provided of the Comgas Scheme; (b) when was it first announced; and (c) what are its objectives.

(2) (a) What is the total amount of spending on the Comgas Scheme, disaggregated on the basis of financial years from the commencement of the scheme to date; and (b) can figures be divided according to the administered funds and departmental costs.


 (3) What communities have participated in the Comgas Scheme to date and for each community: (a) to which state or territory do these communities belong; (b) what were the starting and ending dates of the communities participation in the Comgas Scheme and; (c) what were the administered funds from the Comgas Scheme funding pool (separated into figures for funds allocated and funds spent).

(4) (a) What communities have been selected for participation in the Comgas Scheme; (b) to which state or territory do these communities belong; (c) what were the approximate starting dates for participation in the scheme for each community; and (d) what were the administered funds that have been either spent and/or allocated from the Comgas Scheme funding pool for each community.

(5) Has the department or another Commonwealth agency made any representations to the Queensland Government in relation to the participation of Cape York communities in the Comgas Scheme; if so: (a) what representation was made; and (b) when was this representation made.

(6) Has Aurukun been selected for participation in the Comgas Scheme; if so: (a) when; (b) who nominated Aurukun (e.g. the Queensland Government, the Commonwealth Government, the community itself); (c) what where the grounds for Aurukun’s selection; and (d) can information be provided on the extent of petrol sniffing in Aurukun.

(7) What is the anticipated starting date of Aurukun’s participation in the scheme.

(8) Have any Comgas Scheme funds been allocated to Aurukun; if so, what is the amount.

*1403  Senator Murray: To ask the Minister representing the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service—

(1) With reference to page 83 of the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) annual report for 2003-04 in which it is stated that the Commission’s evaluation program included, ‘…an evaluation of agencies’ guidance on interactions with ministerial offices. This project examined in detail the factors influencing employees’ confidence in balancing the APS Values in their interactions with ministers’ offices, and considered what steps agencies could take to boost that confidence. The results will feed into both the State of the Service Report for 2003-04, and a good practice guide for use by agencies to be released in late 2004’; given that ‘late 2004’ is a year ago, when will this good practice guide be released.

(2) The APSC state of the service report for 2003-04 indicated on page 253 that the relationship between the APS, Government and Parliament was a priority area for the Commission; is this still the case; if so, why has there been such a considerable delay in releasing the good practice guide.

*1404  Senator Sherry: To ask the Minister representing the Treasurer—What is the estimated number of taxpayers within each tax threshold income range for the tax thresholds from 1 July 2005, and tax thresholds to apply from 1 July 2006.

*1405  Senator Sherry: To ask the Minister representing the Treasurer—For the past 5 financial years: (a) what is the dollar value of uncollected Superannuation Guarantee payments that the Australian Taxation Office has ‘wiped’ from the debts to be collected, given that it is uncollectible from employers; and (b) how many employers and employees have been affected in each financial year.


 *1406  Senator Sherry: To ask the Minister representing the Treasurer—For the past 5 financial years: (a) what is the amount of exit tax collected on superannuation; and (b) from how many persons has it been collected.