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Notice given 7 November 2006

2615  Senator Milne: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Heritage—

(1) With reference to government assistance provided to the Tasmanian Department of Tourism, Arts and the Environment to prepare a draft eradication plan for rabbits and rodents on Macquarie Island and to the Tasmanian Government’s appointment, with Commonwealth assistance (through National Heritage Trust (NHT) funding), of a project officer to further develop this plan: (a) what steps has the Minister taken to allocate funds, from the NHT or other sources, for the implementation of the plan in conjunction with the Tasmanian Government; and (b) if no such steps have been taken, when will the Minister allocate funds.

(2) Given that Commonwealth funding has been provided for various phases of the vertebrate pests program for the Macquarie Island World Heritage Area as stated in the answer to question on notice no. 1915 (Senate Hansard , 6 September 2006, p. 153), will the Government make a commitment to provide sufficient funds to complete the program.

(3) What has been the effect so far on the nesting habitat and breeding success of the Macquarie Island grey-headed albatross population, listed as vulnerable under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 , given that the location of the only colony, with 80 breeding pairs only, has been severely damaged by rabbits.

 

 (4) What has been the effect of rabbit grazing on the breeding success of Macquarie Island populations of: (a) wandering albatross, with approximately 19 breeding pairs only; (b) blue petrels; and (c) fairy prions, all listed as vulnerable under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 .

(5) How many king penguins and their chicks were killed as a result of the recent rabbit-induced landslip at Lusitania Bay.

(6) How will the recent landslip at the Sandy Bay tourist boardwalk affect the experience of the tourists landing on Macquarie Island in 2006.

(7) What steps has the Minister taken to review the conservation status of endemic species and subantarctic vegetation communities on Macquarie Island in light of the observed increase in rabbit damage and its associated impacts on Macquarie Island biodiversity and landscape.

(8) Given the accelerating degradation of the environment of Macquarie Island, with increasing risks of landslips due to vegetation loss as a result of rabbit grazing, what are the increased occupational health and safety risks to personnel of the Australian Government Antarctic Division and Bureau of Meteorology working on the island, many of whom travel along the coasts and slopes as part of their professional duties.

2616  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence—

(1) Does the Government possess a stockpile of cluster bombs as is alleged by the Cluster Munition Coalition; if so:

(a) how many are in the stockpile: (i) in total, and (ii) of each type;

(b) what are the different types found in the stockpile;

(c) for each type in the stockpile: (i) what proportion of the bomblets, on average, are left unexploded upon detonation, and (ii) what is the approximate scatter area;

(d) is it possible, or likely, that the bomblets within any of the cluster bombs could be mistaken by children as small toys, if they are left unexploded in fields or residential areas;

(e) when were the cluster bombs obtained;

(f) from which company or which nation were the cluster bombs obtained;

(g) what other countries, if any, are storing some or all of the stockpile;

(h) what is the approximate pecuniary value of the stockpile;

(i) why does the Government possess the stockpile; and

(j) does the Government intend to retain the stockpile indefinitely.

(2) If the Government does not possess a stockpile of cluster bombs, has the Government ever possessed such a stockpile in the past.

(3) Has the Government ever used a cluster bomb as a weapon of war or for testing purposes; if so:

(a)  how many have been used;

(b)  where have they been used; and

(c)  what types have been used.

(4) Has the Government ever produced, or contracted an Australian company to produce, cluster bombs.

(5) Would the Government support multilateral moves to place an international ban on the use, storage and construction of cluster bombs; if not, why not.

 

 (6) Has the Government been actively involved in operations to clear populated areas of unexploded cluster bomblets.

(7) Does the Government consider the use of cluster bombs to be morally justifiable; if so, under what circumstances.

(8) Does the Government condone the use of cluster bombs by Israel in the recent conflict with Lebanon.

2617  Senator Nettle: To ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General—

(1) Is the Minister aware that in a session of the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC), held in July 2006, a unanimous decision was handed down against Australia ( Coleman vs Australia , Communication No. 1157/2003) for a violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

(2) Is the Minister aware that the person whose rights were violated, Mr Patrick Coleman a Townsville resident, was convicted, fined and gaoled for reading out the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and for criticism of the Government’s treatment of Indigenous people, without a permit under a council by law.

(3) Is the Minister aware that Mr Coleman was bankrupted as a result of the costs of defending this matter and lost his right as a citizen to stand for political office.

(4) Is the Minister aware that the UNHRC has stated that Mr Coleman’s conviction must be quashed, all costs be returned to him and that Mr Coleman must be compensated for the loss of liberty resulting from his arrest and imprisonment.

(5) Is the Minister aware that the UNHRC has found that the Commonwealth is liable for the actions of the agents of all levels of government who may have violated the covenant.

(6) Is the Government going to withdraw Australia from the first Optional Protocol to the ICCPR; if not, does the Minister regard Australia as being obligated to uphold and implement the decision of the committee in this matter.

(7) Given that Mr Coleman has not been contacted by the Government or by any of its agents, what measures will the Government take to: (a) have Mr Coleman’s conviction quashed; (b) return all costs to Mr Coleman; (c) overturn Mr Coleman’s bankruptcy; (d) compensate Mr Coleman for his arrest and imprisonment; and (e) make sure that Australian law complies with Article 19 of the ICCPR and allows for peaceful non-violent political expression without permission or sanction.