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Notice given 31 July 2006

2268  Senator Bob Brown: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence—

(1) What knowledge does the Government have of the use of directed energy weapons, including high energy microwave, lasers or the ‘Active Denial System’ by forces of the United States of America (US) in Iraq.

(2) Is the Government aware of claims, made in a documentary aired by Italian TV station RAI on 16 May 2006, that such directed energy weapons have been responsible for numerous deaths and casualties, specifically at the battle for Baghdad Airport in 2003.

(3) What information does the Government have about these casualties.

(4) Did the US Government inform the Government that it was planning to use directed energy weapons; if so, what briefings did the Government receive about these weapons and the danger they posed to civilians and to Australian troops.

(5) What does the Government know about the ‘Project Sheriff’ vehicles, which are equipped with a range of directed energy weapons, including the Active Denial System, or so-called ‘Pain Ray’.

(6) Are Australian troops involved in any way with the use of any of these weapons.

(7) Is the Government aware that US Brigadier-General James Huggings, Chief of Staff for the Multi-National Corps-Iraq, has requested 14 ‘Project Sheriff’ vehicles for deployment to Iraq.

(8) What is the Government’s position regarding the use of directed energy weapons.

2269  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—

(1) Is the Minister aware that on 25 July 2006 a member of the House of Lords asked a written question of the British Government concerning its knowledge of any payments made by British Aerospace Regional Aircraft Limited to Ansett Transport Industries Operations Limited and East West Airline Operations Limited, under an agreement dated 3 September 1993, in connection with design flaws in the BAe 146 aircraft, allowing contamination of cabin air by oil and other fumes.

(2) Is the Government aware of any payments pursuant to such an agreement: (a) if so: (i) what is the quantum of these payments, (ii) what are the full terms of the agreement, and (iii) can a copy of the agreement be provided; and (b) if not, will the Minister investigate this matter.

2270  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—

(1) How many reports have been made to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) since 27 September 2002 relating to air contamination in BAe 146 aircraft.

(2) In each case: (a) when was the report lodged; (b) who lodged the report; and (c) what action was taken by CASA in response.

(3) Are all instances of suspected contamination reported to CASA.

 

 2272  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the role of AusSAR (Australian Search and Rescue Service) in the unsuccessful search for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs vessel the Malu Sara in October 2005:

(1) Does AusSAR maintain a quality management system with third party certification to ISO 9001 standard that requires regular audits of search and rescue operations to identify any corrective actions to maintain standard procedures and processes.

(2) Has any audit been conducted of AusSAR compliance with standard procedures and processes in relation to the search for the Malu Sara; if so, can details be provided of the audit including its outcome.

2273  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—

(1) What explanation can the Minister provide for failing to provide a chronology in the answer to question on notice no. 1872 concerning action taken by AusSAR (Australian Search and Rescue Service) following receipt of advice at 2000 or 2011 hours on 14 October 2005 that the Malu Sara was lost in the Torres Strait and had activated its Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon.

(2) Is the Minister aware that the Australian Transport Safety Bureau report into the loss of the Malu Sara fails to provide a detailed chronology of AusSAR’s actions.

(3) Can the Minister provide a chronology of all action taken by AusSAR in relation to the search for the Malu Sara ; if not, why not.

2274  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the role of AusSAR (Australian Search and Rescue Service) in the unsuccessful search for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs vessel the Malu Sara in October 2005: Can details be provided of the post-incident debrief including host agency/authority, date, venue and participants.

2275  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the answer to question on notice no. 1871 concerning the role of AusSAR (Australian Search and Rescue Service) in the unsuccessful search for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs vessel the Malu Sara in October 2005:

(1) Can the Minister confirm his advice that the AusSAR Rescue Coordination Centre was advised at 2011 hours on 14 October 2005 that the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) on board the Malu Sara had been activated.

(2) Can an explanation be provided as to why pages 75 and 76 of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau report into the loss of the Malu Sara identify 2000 hours on 14 October 2005 as the time the AusSAR Rescue Coordination Centre was advised the EPIRB was activated.

 

 2276  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the role of AusSAR (Australian Search and Rescue Service) in the unsuccessful search for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs vessel the Malu Sara in October 2005: Can extracts be provided from AusSAR’s internal procedures manual in force in October 2005 containing instructions on the transfer of responsibility for search and rescue coordination in circumstances where responsibility rests with AusSAR.

2277  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the role of AusSAR (Australian Search and Rescue Service) in the unsuccessful search for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs vessel the Malu Sara in October 2005:

(1) Is the National Search and Rescue Manual the standard reference document for use by all Australian Search and Rescue authorities.

(2) Does the National Search and Rescue Manual promulgate the agreed methods of coordination through which search and rescue operations are conducted within Australia.

(3) Does the National Search and Rescue Manual provide that a maritime search and rescue incident is considered imminent or actual when any of a number of conditions exist, including when: (a) an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) has been activated; and (b) a surface vessel or craft is reported to be sinking or to have sunk.

(4) Was the AusSAR Rescue Coordination Centre informed at 2000 or 2011 hours on 14 October 2005 that the Malu Sara’s EPIRB was activated.

(5) Was the AusSAR Rescue Coordination Centre informed soon after 0215 hours on 15 October 2005 that the Malu Sara was taking on water and sinking rapidly.

(6) Why did the AusSAR Rescue Coordination Centre not assume responsibility for the overall coordination of the search for the Malu Sara until 1930 hours on 15 October 2003, more than 23 hours after the activation of the vessel’s EPIRB and more than 17 hours after the vessel was reported to be taking on water and sinking rapidly.

2278  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the role of AusSAR (Australian Search and Rescue Service) in the unsuccessful search for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs vessel the Malu Sara in October 2005:

(1) Did a recorder maintain an accurate and up-to-date chronological record of the search and rescue action, together with other necessary records, messages and details of telephone calls and radio logs.

(2) Who has custody of these records.

(3) Where are these records held.

2279  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the answer to question on notice no. 1870 concerning the role of AusSAR (Australian Search and Rescue) in the unsuccessful search for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs vessel the Malu Sara in October 2005:

 

 (1) Does clause 14 of the Inter-Governmental Agreement on National Search and Rescue Response Arrangements provide that AusSAR when first becoming aware of a search and rescue incident shall take all necessary action until responsibility can be handed over to the relevant search and rescue authority under clauses 10 and 12 of the agreement.

(2) Does clause 10 of the agreement provide that AusSAR has primary responsibility for coordinating search and rescue operations for persons on or from a ship other than a pleasure craft or fishing vessel in distress at sea.

(3) Does the Minister maintain that the transfer of responsibility of the search was in accordance with clause 14 of the Inter-Governmental Agreement on National Search and Rescue Response Arrangements despite: (a) the lapse of more than 23 hours between the activation of the Malu Sara’s Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon and AusSAR’s assumption of overall coordination of the search; and (b) the lapse of more than 17 hours between advice that the Malu Sara was taking on water and sinking fast and AusSAR’s assumption of overall coordination of the search.

2280  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the role of AusSAR (Australian Search and Rescue) in the unsuccessful search for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs vessel the Malu Sara in October 2005:

(1) Has any formal review of AusSAR’s role been undertaken; if so, can a copy of the report of the review be provided; if not, why not.

(2) If no formal review has been undertaken, why not.

2281  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the answer to question on notice no. 1874 concerning the role of AusSAR (Australian Search and Rescue) in the unsuccessful search for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs vessel the Malu Sara in October 2005:

(1) Is it the case that under the requirements of the Inter-Governmental Agreement on National Search and Rescue Arrangements and the National Search and Rescue Manual the primary responsibility for coordinating search and rescue operations for vessels is dependent on the type of vessel, e.g. fishing vessel or pleasure craft, and in some cases the location of that vessel.

(2) Why does the Minister state that the status of the Malu Sara as a ‘Commonwealth Ship’ was irrelevant in relation to the coordination of the search operation for the vessel.

2282  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the role of AusSAR (Australian Search and Rescue) in the unsuccessful search for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs vessel the Malu Sara in October 2005: At 0215 hours on 15 October 2005 when the Malu Sara reported taking on water and sinking fast, was AusSAR in a position to immediately assume responsibility for overall coordination of the search if it had chosen to do so; if not, why not.

2284  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the role of AusSAR (Australian Search and Rescue) in the unsuccessful search for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs vessel the Malu Sara in October 2005:

(1) Was the helicopter VH-RHJ Bell 412 utilised during the search.

 

 (2) Which agency tasked the helicopter.

(3) Where was the helicopter located when it was tasked to perform search activities.

(4) Can the Minister confirm the helicopter was not engaged in search activities until the afternoon of 15 October 2005.

(5) Can the Minister outline the helicopter’s search activities including ‘wheels up’ and ‘wheels down’ details.

(6) What is the engine and search and rescue capability of the helicopter and the search and rescue capability of the crew.

(7) (a) Is the helicopter fitted with Forward Looking Infra Red (FLIR) and night vision equipment; and (b) does FLIR and night vision equipment provide night searching capability, in particular, the ability to visually ascertain the actual situation of a vessel reported to be sinking.

(8) Is the helicopter fitted with auto-hover capability; if so, are the crew trained and current in its use at night.

(9) Was the helicopter and crew available in the early hours of 15 October 2005 for an emergency callout.

(10) Why was the helicopter not tasked before the afternoon of 15 October 2005.

(11) Can details be provided of all occasions on which AusSAR has tasked the helicopter to perform search and rescue activities in the Torres Strait.

(12) Can details be provided of all occasions on which AusSAR has tasked the helicopter to engage in search and rescue training activities in the Torres Strait.

(13) Is the helicopter on a 24-hour callout contract to another Commonwealth agency; if so, what are the contractual arrangements for callout and what is the contracted emergency response time.

2285  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to evidence by the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) to the Rural and Regional Affairs Legislation Committee on 19 February 2002 expressing concern over the lack of clear understanding surrounding the protocols relating to the handover of search and rescue coordination from state agencies to AusSAR (Australian Search and Rescue): Can the Minister outline how AMSA has attempted to improve understanding of the protocols relating to the transfer of search and rescue coordination outlined in the National Search and Rescue Manual.

2286  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the submission by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) to the Rural and Regional Affairs Legislation Committee inquiry into the role of AusSAR (Australian Search and Rescue) in the unsuccessful search for the Margaret J : Can details be provided of all ‘regular meetings’ between AMSA and the Tasmania Police following the joint workshop in 2002 which discussed improved operational protocols relating to the transfer of responsibility of search coordination.

 

 2287  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to evidence given by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) on 19 September 2002 to the Rural and Regional Affairs Legislation Committee inquiry into the role of AusSAR (Australian Search and Rescue) in the unsuccessful search for the Margaret J : Can details be provided, by state/territory, of the ‘regular meetings to discuss issues of continuity’ involving AMSA and state/territory search and rescue authorities.

2288  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the answer to question on notice no. 1879 concerning the role of AusSAR (Australian Search and Rescue) in the unsuccessful search for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs vessel the Malu Sara in October 2005:

(1) Can the Minister confirm his advice that there is no transcript of communications to and from the AusSAR Rescue Coordination Centre relating to the search.

(2) Will the Minister reconsider his decision to deny Senator O’Brien’s request for a transcript of these communications.

(3) Did the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) request the transcription of communications to and from the AusSAR Rescue Coordination Centre during its investigation into the loss the vessel; if so, why did the Minister refuse to authorise the preparation of the transcript; if not, how did the ATSB reach a conclusion about the conduct of AusSAR with respect to the search and rescue operation.

(4) How did the Minister reach a conclusion about the conduct of AusSAR with respect to the search and rescue operation, as expressed in the answer to question on notice no. 1873, without recourse to a transcript of communications to and from the AusSAR Rescue Coordination Centre.

2289  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—Can details be provided of costs associated with the transcription of communications, including ministerial media conferences, for the financial years 2003-04 to 2006-07, by year, by department and agency in the Minister’s portfolio.

2290  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the answer to question on notice no. 1874, concerning the role of AusSAR (Australian Search and Rescue) in the unsuccessful search for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs vessel the Malu Sara in October 2005:

(1) Does the National Search and Rescue Manual provide that: ‘The Commonwealth Government through the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, in accordance with Regulation 15 of Chapter V of SOLAS, accepts responsibility for the coordination of marine SAR for all classes of ships other than those for which the States/Territories and ADF are responsible. These responsibilities are exercised through AusSAR’.

(2) Consistent with the coordination protocols outlined in the National Search and Rescue Manual, was the Malu Sara a class of ship for which the Commonwealth accepts responsibility for the coordination of marine search and rescue.

 

 (3) Does the National Search and Rescue Manual provide that the AusSAR Rescue Coordination Centre is staffed continuously and is responsible for ‘coordinating marine SAR for all classes of ships other than those for which the States/Territories and ADF are responsible’.

(4) Consistent with the coordination protocols outlined in the National Search and Rescue Manual, was the AusSAR Rescue Coordination Centre responsible for coordinating marine search and rescue for the Malu Sara .

(5) Why did the AusSAR Rescue Coordination Centre not assume responsibility for coordination of the search for the Malu Sara until 1930 hours on 15 October 2005, more than 23 hours after AusSAR was notified that the vessel was lost and had activated its Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacon.

2291  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the answer to question on notice no. 1870, concerning the role of AusSAR (Australian Search and Rescue) in the unsuccessful search for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs vessel the Malu Sara in October 2005:

(1) Can the Minister confirm that evidence given by the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee on 31 May 2001 is correct, namely ‘the purpose of the [National] Search and Rescue Manual is so that various parties prior to an incident are aware of their respective responsibilities and jurisdictional roles’.

(2) Can the Minister confirm advice in the submission by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee inquiry into AusSAR’s role in the unsuccessful search for the Margaret J that the Commonwealth has primary responsibility for search and rescue for vessels at sea other than fishing boats and pleasure craft.

(3) Does the National Search and Rescue Manual provide that the allocation of search and rescue functions and responsibilities of states, territories and Commonwealth search and rescue (SAR) authorities is defined in Appendix B of the manual.

(4) Does Appendix B of the National Search and Rescue Manual provide that AusSAR is responsible for coordinating SAR operations for persons on or from a ship other than a pleasure craft or fishing vessel in distress at sea.

(5) Is it the case that the Malu Sara was not a pleasure craft or fishing vessel and therefore responsibility for coordination of the search for persons aboard the vessel was the responsibility of AusSAR.

(6) Does the National Search and Rescue Manual provide that coordination of SAR operations shall be transferred to, and accepted by, the SAR authority that has overall coordination responsibility for the incident in accordance with Appendix B of the manual, immaterial of which SAR authorities are involved.

(7) With reference to the National Search and Rescue Manual, why did AusSAR not accept responsibility for overall coordination of the search for the Malu Sara until more than 23 hours after the activation of the vessel’s Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon and more than 17 hours after the skipper advised that the vessel was taking on water and sinking fast.

 

 2292  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the loss of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs vessel the Malu Sara in October 2005: Was the body of one of the persons aboard the Malu Salu that was found by Indonesian fishermen near Deelder Reef some time after the search was terminated wearing a life jacket; if not, was there any evidence to suggest a life jacket had been worn.

2293  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the role of AusSAR (Australian Search and Rescue) in the unsuccessful search for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs vessel the Malu Sara in October 2005:

(1) Who calculated the datum position(s) for the aerial search on the afternoon of 15 October 2005.

(2) How was the datum(s) for the aerial search on the afternoon of 15 October 2005 calculated.

(3) What was the position of the datum(s) for the aerial search on the afternoon of 15 October 2005 and for what time was this valid.

2294  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the role of AusSAR (Australian Search and Rescue) in the unsuccessful search for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs vessel the Malu Sara in October 2005:

(1) After the vessel reported that it was taking on water and sinking fast, what action was taken to alert other vessels in the area that may have been able to assist by means, including a Mayday relay, broadcasts on relevant frequencies, activation of automatic alarms and defence/customs communications systems.

(2) If attempts to contact other vessels were made: (a) which communications systems were used; (b) which vessels were contacted; and (c) which vessels were able to assist.

(3) If no attempts to contact other vessels were made, why not.

2295  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the role of AusSAR (Australian Search and Rescue) in the unsuccessful search for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs vessel the Malu Sara in October 2005:

(1) Was AusSAR aware prior to the search for the Malu Sara that telephone service providers could provide information to calculate a triangulated position for a satellite telephone; if so, was this information provided to the Queensland Mission coordinator prior to AusSAR assuming responsibility for overall coordination of the search.

(2) How long does it take to obtain triangulation data from satellite telephone service providers and then to calculate a position.

(3) What was the make and model of the satellite telephone aboard the Malu Sara .

(4) What action has AusSAR taken in response to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau recommendation that search and rescue agencies consult with satellite and other mobile telephone service providers to determine under what circumstances useful information from satellite telephones and switch records could aid search and rescue operations.