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Notice given 6 February 2007

2978  Senator Bishop: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence—With reference to the answer to question no. W 23 taken on notice at the supplementary estimates hearing of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee in November 2006: Has the Inspector-General conducted any investigations into professional behaviour within the Legal Branch of the Defence Material Organisation; if so: (a) what were the findings; and (b) what action was taken.

2979  Senator Bob Brown: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations—Further to question on notice no. 2828 that refers to the issuing of conscientious objection certificates to employers:

(1) Have there been any certificates issued to employers in states other than Victoria.

(2) To which businesses in Victoria have certificates been issued.

2980  Senator Siewert: To ask the Minister for Community Services—

(1) Is it correct that the department intends to: (a) cease funding self-advocacy, citizen advocacy and systems (group) advocacy under the National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP); and (b) focus instead only on individual advocacy as mentioned in the departmental report, Enhancing the National Disability Advocacy Program (consultation paper 2006); if so, what is the legislative basis for this new program.

(2) Does the Minister agree that: (a) this change is inconsistent with the department’s responsibilities under the Disability Services Act 1986 ; and (b) the department should have sought the approval of Parliament to make a change that is so clearly inconsistent with its responsibilities under the Disability Services Act 1986 .

(3) Since 1996, what, if any, new funds have been appropriated for the NDAP.

(4) For each of the years since 1986, can a copy of the budget appropriations be provided for the NDAP.

(5) What percentage of program growth does this represent.

(6) Since 1996, have any funding decreases, including any efficiency savings, been made to the NDAP; if so: (a) what is the cumulative funding saved as a result of these measures; and (b) from where has the funding saved as a result of the measures been appropriated.

(7) Are the department’s current initiatives for the NDAP based on the evaluation of the program conducted by Social Options Australia (SOA) in July 2006; if so, does the department endorse the methodology, findings and recommendations of this evaluation.

(8) (a) Does the department have any concerns about the evaluation report produced by the SOA after conducting the evaluation in paragraph (7) ; if so, what are those concerns; (b) can the Minister provide copies of any departmental responses to the evaluation report; (c) does the department consider that the evaluation report provides a suitable basis for proposed changes to the NDAP; and (d) does the Minister agree that the evaluation report is highly critical of advocacy services funded under the NDAP; if so, does the department consider that this evaluation report is a balanced and considered portrayal of the achievements of the NDAP.

(9) What is the current level of unmet demand for advocacy assistance to persons with disabilities in Australia.

 

 (10) (a) Since 1996, what efforts, has the department engaged in to estimate the unmet demand for advocacy services in Australia; and (b) can the Minister provide a copies of any such estimates.

(11) Does the department agree that in this respect it has failed in its administrative responsibility for the NDAP.

(12) Is it the case that the department proposes to cease to fund, under the NDAP, organisations focused on systems advocacy as proposed in the department’s consultation paper.

(13) Does the department believe that systemic discrimination, abuse and neglect perpetrated on persons with disabilities have been eradicated from Australian life; if so: (a) how has this assessment been made; and (b) what conclusions have been drawn; if not, why is the department dismantling a service system established to challenge such discrimination, abuse and neglect.

(14) What programs does the department employ to address structural discrimination, abuse and neglect of people with disabilities at the: (a) local; (b) regional; and (c) state levels.

(15) In determining the geographic spread and mix of advocacy service types available to persons with disabilities, has the department taken into account advocacy for persons with disabilities funded by state and territory governments; if so, where and how is this reflected in the initiatives proposed in the department’s consultation paper; if not, why not.

(16) Does this represent a failure of the department to fulfil its joint planning responsibility with the states and territories under the Commonwealth State and Territory Disability Agreement.

(17) Is the department concerned that its current unilateral approach may lead to distortions in the distribution of advocacy services for persons with disabilities across Australia.

(18) What is the estimated cost per annum of the proposed central advocacy call centre.

(19) Will the funds to operate the call centre be taken from the existing funding of the NDAP.

(20) Is the Minister confident that the national call centre will be able to keep up with projected demand for advocacy services; if so, what programs does the department have in place to ensure that projected demand is met.

(21) Does the department intend to conduct a competitive tender for all existing funding under the NDAP.

(22) When will this tender be conducted.

(23) Will the tender be based on particular specifications for each service to be funded; if so, what will those specifications be.

(24) What planning regions will be used to determine the distribution of funding for the NDAP.

(25) What funds have been set aside for each region.

(26) How has the department liaised with state government disability service agencies on all aspects of the proposal.

 

 2981  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence—With reference to defence equipment exports as defined by the Defence and Strategic Goods List, for each of the top 200 export approvals: (a) what was the value; (b) what equipment was involved; (c) which country/countries exports were made or planned to be made; (d) what organisation, company or government department was the planned recipient of the goods approved; (e) what assistance by the department or Austrade was provided for the sale; and (f) what safeguards in the form of end user certificates were obtained.

2982  Senator Murray: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations—

(1) Is the Minister aware of the June 2004 Report by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services, Corporate Insolvency Laws - a Stocktake , which made a number of recommendations to address the non-payment of employee entitlements, including superannuation contributions and workers compensation payments by phoenix companies, especially in the building and construction industry.

(2) Is the Ministers aware of the work of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) through the Assetless Administration Fund in cracking down on the systematic misbehaviour of company officers who deliberately avoided their responsibilities to creditors, including employees, who had missed out on entitlements due to their actions. (see ASIC Media Release 07-05 of 8 January 2007 Phoenix crackdown reaps results , ASIC Media Release 07-02 of 5 January 2007 Nine directors banned and ASIC Media Release 06-420 of 5 December 2006 ASIC bans 9 directors ).

(3) Does the Minister agree that companies and their officers that have been found guilty of engaging in phoenix arrangements could also be failing to comply with the payment of employee entitlements such as superannuation, long service leave and workers compensation premiums.

(4) (a) Does the Office of Workplace Services (OWS) monitor the work of ASIC in relation to phoenix companies, including the Assetless Administration Fund and related enforcement programs; and (b) follow-up on matters related to it which may arise from the ASIC investigations.

(5) Is there a memorandum of understanding between ASIC and OWS in place so that: (a) these matters can be properly followed up; and (b) workers do not miss out on entitlements which are properly owed to them, or employers are prosecuted for failing to pay entitlements.

(6) (a) Can details be provided of any measures that have been taken in association with the Council of Australian Governments to enhance the detection of phoenix activity and the prosecution of offenders; and (b) has the Minister raised the adequacy of arrangements for checking business names of companies on state business names registries against the ASCOT database with an appropriate ministerial forum, as recommended in the June 2004 report on insolvency by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services.

(7) (a) Can the Minister advise how much of the additional $62 million allocated to the General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme (GEERS) enhancements that apply to insolvencies after 1 November 2005 has been spent; and (b) are there any plans for further GEERS enhancements to employee entitlements under the Government’s proposed new insolvency laws.

 

 2983  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing—

(1) Can the Minister confirm that the report of 13 December 2006 by the Australian Institute of Medical Scientists Review of Australia’s Blood Fractionation Arrangements, found that competitive tendering and offshore fractionation of Australian donated blood plasma will undermine access to intravenous immunoglobin (IVIg) by:

(a) increasing the costs to the Australian health services in the regulation of plasma fractionated off shore;

(b) increasing the price of plasma due to increased international handling costs (e.g. transport, special storage and warehousing);

(c) reducing the amount of plasma available due to lower yields achieved by offshore fractionation technology;

(d) increasing the vein to vein time between donation of plasma and clinical use as a finished blood product;

(e) elevating the risk of disturbance of supply (transportation by shipping) the consequences of which are costly and highly disruptive; and

(f) undermining of the volunteer ethos of blood donation and the high regard in which the Australian Red Cross Blood Service is held.

(2) Will the Government be adopting recommendation 10 of the Review which states: ‘Australia should maintain its reservation regarding the procurement of blood fractionation services under the Australia - United States Free Trade Agreement. The reservation exempts the procurement of plasma fractionation services from the government procurement provisions in Chapter 15 of the Agreement. The CSL Act should also be maintained.’; if not: (a) why not; and (b) how will the Government ensure that access to intravenous immunoglobin (IVIg) does not deteriorate by becoming more expensive, less available and less reliable.

(3) What plans does the Government have to maintain and encourage volunteer blood donation.

2984  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs—

(1) What is the status of discussions between the Government and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) regarding the forging of a formal relationship.

(2) Does the Government support NATO’s policy of nuclear first strike.

(3) Is the Government aware of the public opinion polling conducted by independent reputable companies, commissioned by a non government organisation, which reveals that close to 70 per cent of citizens in all six European countries hosting NATO nuclear weapons (Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey) under NATO nuclear sharing arrangements wish them to be removed (Survey found at:

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/nuclear-weapons-in-europe-survey) .

(4) If Australia does establish a formal relationship with NATO, will the Government raise concerns about how out of step the NATO nuclear sharing policy is with the democratic majority in European nations hosting nuclear weapons.