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Notice given 16 August 2007

*3439  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs—With reference to the recent visit of a parliamentary delegation from Morocco to Australia, which coincided with renewed talks at the United Nations in New York in relation to Western Sahara:

(1) Was there any discussion between the Moroccan delegation and the Australian Government on the subject of Western Sahara; if so, was the matter of the referendum in Western Sahara raised.

(2) Was the matter of the continuing reports of human rights abuses by Moroccan forces in Western Sahara raised.

(3) What were the outcomes of the discussions referred to in paragraphs (1) and (2).


 *3440  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—

(1) Is the Minister aware of the serious concerns raised by disability groups about the discriminatory practices of Virgin Blue in regard to air travel by people with disabilities.

(2) Are Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) regulations intended to bar travellers with disabilities from travelling on planes.

(3) Is it the intention of CASA Regulation 14.1.2 that all air travellers with disabilities must be accompanied by an assisting person.

(4) Is it the intention of CASA regulations that all air travellers must, without assistance, reach for, pull down and secure overhead oxygen masks (including manipulating the straps), reach for and put on life jackets, manipulate the tapes and flaps on the front and back of the life jacket and evacuate from the aircraft in an emergency.

(5) Why do unaccompanied children, aged 5 years and above, meet the Virgin Blue independent travel criteria but people with disabilities do not.

(6) Do all children undertaking air travel have to travel with an assisting person.

(7) Is it acceptable that Virgin Blue refuses to make clear how its independent travel criteria are put into operation or how they can be measured by staff or individuals.

(8) Is it acceptable that Virgin Blue requires people with a disability to buy a non-refundable ticket and that there is no guarantee that they will be able to board the flight until they arrive at the terminal.

(9) Is it acceptable that Virgin Blue can implement a policy that effectively excludes a whole segment of the community from using its services.