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Notice given 19 October 2006

2586  Senator Hurley: To ask the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs—With reference to the report in the Australian on 22 August 2006 that 110 Chinese nationals obtained their passports and citizenship illegally:

(1) Were both of the people charged in this incident departmental officials before, when or after the incident was uncovered; if so: (a) what were their positions; and (b) between which dates were they employed by the department.

(2) Were the two people charged employed by any government department at anytime.

(3) With what crimes were these two people charged.

(4) Were there only two people charged in this incident; if not, were the additional people charged employed by the department or any other government department at anytime.

(5) When and how did the department become aware that this incident was occurring.

(6) What measures has the department put in place to ensure that this corrupt practice does not continue within the department.

(7) Have any new false passport and citizenship cases been exposed since the two people were arrested.

(8) Excluding the 110 Chinese nationals, how many false passports and citizenships have been detected by government officials for each of the years 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006.

(9) Is the Government conducting an enquiry into this incident; if so: (a) who is conducting it; (b) when will the findings be handed down; and (c) will the findings, in their entirety, be made public.

(10) Whose decision was it to allow the 110 Chinese nationals to keep their passports and maintain their Australian citizenship.

2587  Senator Murray: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) In view of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement, the closeness of the two countries, and the new Australian media laws, and with respect to foreign ownership of media in Australia and the United States: will an Australian or an Australian corporation wanting to buy a significant media outlet in the United States be subject to the same or similar investment rules as American buyers of Australian media assets; if not, in what circumstances are American media buyers advantaged in buying Australian media, in comparison with Australians buying American media.

(2) (a) As media is formally determined a ‘sensitive market’, and as major media can be bought by foreign private equity funds under the new media laws, will investors in such funds, in particular beneficial owners, appear on a register and be readily identifiable.

 

 (b) Can the Minister outline what powers under the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 allow the Treasurer to identify the beneficial owners of private equity funds.

(c) If it is not possible to identify investors or beneficial owners in private equity funds, can the Minister assure the Senate that none of our media could end up controlled by funds that are influenced or backed by criminal money, money sourced from anti-democratic groups, from theocratic or fundamentalist groups, or from proscribed organisations: (i) if the Minister is unable to give that assurance, then what does the Minister intend to do about this matter, and (ii) if the Minister can give that assurance, can details be provided of the means or measures available to identify beneficial owners or investors.