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Notice given 12 February 2008

1  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship—

(1) Is the Minister aware that the Melbourne Anglican Synod recently moved the following ‘without dissent’ motion: ‘That this Synod regrets the Government’s adoption of procedures for certain people seeking political asylum in Australia which exclude them from all public income support while withholding permission to work, thereby creating a group of beggars dependent on the Churches and charities for food and the necessities of life; and calls upon the Federal Government to review such procedures immediately and remove all practices which are manifestly inhumane and in some cases in contravention of our national obligations as a signatory of the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights’.

(2) Is the Minister aware that, as at 23 September 2007, material aid valued at $1 608 925 has been distributed to the benefit of: (a) asylum seekers on bridging visas ($840 456); (b) refugees from Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Sudan ($743 100); and (c) tsunami victims in Sri Lanka ($25 369).

(3) (a) When will the Government change the refugee laws so that asylum seekers do not continue to be ‘beggars dependent on the Churches and charities for food and the necessities of life’; and (b) if there is no intention to change the laws, how does the Government consider the needs of such people will be met in the future.

2  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts—In regard to the [former] Minister’s press release of 8 May 2007, ‘$150 million more for solar technology’, can details be provided of the ‘targeted scheme to support the design and installation of solar systems on commercial, industrial and iconic buildings’, including the budget, commencement date and criteria involved.

3  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing—In regard to the approximately 300 000 Australians suffering from Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS):

(1) Is the Minister prepared to provide the necessary funds for the establishment of a research facility and centre of excellence for ME/CFS, in order to address the lack of biomedical research into the illness.

(2) (a) Will funds and access to expert resources be provided to improve support services to sufferers and their carers and to raise awareness within the community on management and prevention strategies; and (b) will support and funding be provided to the national association, ME/CFS Australia.

4  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government—With reference to the Healthy and Active Transport (HEAT) policy proposal, developed by national and state cycling organisations, including the Bicycle Federation of Australia and the Cycling Promotion Fund, which proposes that $200 million be committed by the Commonwealth Government to local government, over a 4 year period, to assist the provision of cycling infrastructure and facilities: does the Minister intend to provide funding to the HEAT program; if so, can details be provided of the Government’s commitment; if not, are there any other Government plans in place to support the growing number of cyclists and cycling organisations.

6  Senator Bob Brown: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts—With reference to the answer to question on notice no. 3242 (Senate Hansard , 10 September 2007, p. 191): using existing Australian facilities, how long would it take to dispose of the stockpile of hexachlorobenzene waste at Botany Bay, Sydney.

 

 7  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts—In regard to Gunns Limited’s proposed pulp mill in Bell Bay, Tasmania:

(1) Who will be appointed to the Independent Expert Group.

(2) How stringently will the group be expected to interpret the conditions placed on the mill.

(3) (a) Will the Government insist on longer-term and more comprehensive studies relating to the hydrodynamics of the 30 billion litres of effluent which will be released by the mill each year; and (b) given that the $2 billion mill will be in construction when the studies are completed, will the Government withdraw approval for the mill to operate if the expectations are not met.

(4) Is the Minister aware that the wood supply agreement has been finalised but that it contains scant protection for high conservation value forests.

(5) How will the Government honour its election promise to ensure that as little high conservation value forest as possible is fed to the mill.

8  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts—

(1) What action will the Government take to remedy the critical situation of wetlands such as the Coorong and the Macquarie Marshes.

(2) Will the Minister fast-track the return of water to these wetlands; if so, how.

(3) Given the obligations of Australia under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, how will the Government explain the dire state of many of Australia’s wetlands at the Ramsar conference of the parties in October and November 2008.

(4) Is there evidence of environmental water theft in Ramsar sites, such as the Macquarie Marshes; if so, what steps will be taken to protect the water supply of these sites.

9  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts—

(1) Will the Government follow the bipartisan advice of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Heritage in its report, Sustainability for survival: creating a climate for change and establish a sustainability charter; if not, why not.

(2) Will the Government introduce legislation to establish a national sustainability commission, headed by a sustainability commissioner.

(3) Will the Government act to repeal the Environment and Heritage Legislation Amendment Act (No. 1) 2006 , which weakened the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 (the Act), and/or introduce further amendments so that the Act can achieve its aims of minimising the degradation of Australia’s ecosystems and conserving biodiversity.

(4) Will the Government introduce a greenhouse trigger into the Act; if so, what will be its threshold.

11  Senator Bob Brown: To ask the Minister for Climate Change and Water—With reference to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia in December 2007: (a) which individuals were included in the Australian Government delegation to the conference; and (b) for each of these people, which organisation did she or he represent.

 

Senator Minchin: To ask the Ministers listed below (Question Nos 13-48)—As at 26 November 2007, with reference to the department and all agencies in the Minister’s portfolio:

(1) How many employees are engaged in positions responsible for public affairs, media management, liaison with the media and media monitoring.

(2) What are the responsibilities of these staff.

(3) What are the Australian Public Service classifications of these positions.

(4) For each of the financial years 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11, what is the current operating budget for these media-related sections within the department or agency.

13 Minister representing the Prime Minister

14 Minister representing the Minister for Education

15 Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations

16 Minister representing the Minister for Social Inclusion

17 Minister representing the Treasurer

18 Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

19 Special Minister of State

20 Minister representing the Minister for Trade

21 Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs

22 Minister representing the Minister for Defence

23 Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing

24 Minister representing the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

25 Minister representing the Minister for Finance and Deregulation

26 Minister representing the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government

27 Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy

28 Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research

29 Minister for Climate Change and Water

30 Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

31 Minister representing the Attorney-General

32 Minister for Human Services

33 Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

34 Minister representing the Minister for Resources and Energy

35 Minister representing the Minister for Tourism

36 Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs

37 Minister representing the Assistant Treasurer

38 Minister representing the Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs

39 Minister representing the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

40 Minister representing the Minister for Housing

41 Minister representing the Minister for the Status of Women

42 Minister representing the Minister for Employment Participation

 

 43 Minister representing the Minister for Defence

44 Minister representing the Minister for Small Business, Independent Contractors and the Service Economy

45 Minister for Superannuation and Corporate Law

46 Minister representing the Minister for Ageing

47 Minister representing the Minister for Youth

48 Minister representing the Minister for Sport

Senator Minchin: To ask the Ministers listed below (Question Nos 49-84)—As at 26 November 2007, with reference to the department and all agencies in the Minister’s portfolio:

(1) What is the total number of permanent staff employed on a: (a) full-time; (b) part time; or (c) part-time, equivalent basis.

(2) How many employees are employed on contract and what is the average length of their employment period.

(3) What are the base and top level salaries of: (a) Australian Public Service level 1 to 6 officers; (b) executive level officers; (c) Senior Executive Service (SES) officers; and (d) equivalent officers.

(4) How many officers are employed at executive level and SES level.

49 Minister representing the Prime Minister

50 Minister representing the Minister for Education

51 Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations

52 Minister representing the Minister for Social Inclusion

53 Minister representing the Treasurer

54 Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

55 Special Minister of State

56 Minister representing the Minister for Trade

57 Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs

58 Minister representing the Minister for Defence

59 Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing

60 Minister representing the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

61 Minister representing the Minister for Finance and Deregulation

62 Minister representing the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government

63 Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy

64 Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research

65 Minister for Climate Change and Water

66 Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

67 Minister representing the Attorney-General

68 Minister for Human Services

69 Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

70 Minister representing the Minister for Resources and Energy

71 Minister representing the Minister for Tourism

 

 72 Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs

73 Minister representing the Assistant Treasurer

74 Minister representing the Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs

75 Minister representing the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

76 Minister representing the Minister for Housing

77 Minister representing the Minister for the Status of Women

78 Minister representing the Minister for Employment Participation

79 Minister representing the Minister for Defence

80 Minister representing the Minister for Small Business, Independent Contractors and the Service Economy

81 Minister for Superannuation and Corporate Law

82 Minister representing the Minister for Ageing

83 Minister representing the Minister for Youth

84 Minister representing the Minister for Sport

Senator Minchin: To ask the Ministers listed below (Question Nos 85-90)—With reference to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia from 3 to 14 December 2007:

(1) What was the length of stay of the Minister, the Parliamentary Secretary and any ministerial staff in Bali.

(2)  For the duration of the Minister’s stay, and for the stay of any Parliamentary Secretary assisting the Minister, what was the total cost of: (a) travel; (b) accommodation; and (c) any other expenses.

(3) (a) How many ministerial staff or family accompanied the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary; and (b) for these people, what was the total cost of: (a) travel; (b) accommodation; and (c) any other expenses.

(4) (a) How many officers from the department were in attendance at the conference; (b) what was the duration of attendance at the conference by these officers; and (c) for these officers, what was the total cost of: (i) travel, (ii) accommodation, and (iii) any other expenses.

85 Minister representing the Prime Minister

86 Minister representing the Treasurer

87 Minister representing the Minister for Trade

88 Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs

89 Minister for Climate Change and Water

90 Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

91  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Climate Change and Water—

(1) Is the Minister aware that the International Energy Agency (IEA) considers that coal-fired power stations which are more than 10 years old may not be able to be retro-fitted with clean coal technology without expensive upgrades.

(2) How many coal-fired power stations in Australia are: (a) between 10 and 20 years old; (b) between 20 and 30 years old; (c) between 30 and 40 years old; and (d) more than 40 years old.

 

 (3) Is the Minister aware that the Owen Inquiry into Electricity Supply in New South Wales (Owen inquiry): (a) suggested energy losses of up to 30 per cent if greenhouse gases are captured and stored; and (b) indicated that clean coal technology is unlikely to be ready before 2020.

(4) Does the Government have any evidence that contradicts the IEA and the Owen inquiry advice; if so, what is that evidence.

(5) Will criteria for the proposed $500 million National Clean Coal Fund take into account views of the IEA and the Owen inquiry; if so, in what way.

92  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts—With reference to the Renewable Remote Power Generation Programme, initiated in 2001:

(1) For each year of its operation, what has been the expenditure on the program,

(2) How many recipients, in each of the categories of individuals, pastoral stations, other businesses and aboriginal communities, have been recipients of funding under the program.

(3) What is the estimated level of displacement of diesel fuel due to the program.

(4) What is the estimated level of greenhouse abatement due to the program: (a) to date; and (b) to 2010.

93  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy—

(1) In the lead-up to the 2007 federal election, was there any appointments or reappointments to the Board of the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS); if so: (a) who; (b) on what dates was the appointment made and accepted; and (c) for what period.

(2) (a) Can the Minister confirm that SBS staff are gagged by way of a confidentiality agreement; and (b) can a copy of a typical confidentiality agreement be provided.

(3) Can the Minister confirm that ordinary workers at SBS are not allowed to discuss any objections they may have about advertising on SBS with the mass media; if so, what is the reason for this ban.

(4) (a) What percentage of programming and how many hours is devoted to programs in Languages Other Than English (LOTE) in the evening prime time slot on a nightly basis on the main SBS television channel, that is, not SBS digital 2; and (b) what percentage is in English.

(5) Are there any advertisements in LOTE programs on SBS television: if so: (a) how much; and (b) are such advertisements in the same LOTE as the program LOTE to air or are such advertisements placed in English language programs.

(6) Does SBS television broadcast any English lesson programs aimed at new immigrants; if so, how many hours a week and in what time slots.

(7) In 2007, which programs were televised with breaks inserted by SBS in the circumstances where, those programs when supplied to SBS in their original format had not been produced, assembled or compiled with provision for any commercial breaks, such as British Broadcasting Corporation programs or cinema-release movies etc.

 

 (8) Given that the 2006 SBS ‘Codes of Practice’ makes no provision for a person to dispute the SBS interpretation of a ‘natural break’ by way of a formal complaint, and that section 5 of the code refers the placement of breaks to the ‘Guidelines for the Placement of Breaks in SBS Television Programs’ and also that under section 8 of the code, SBS is only required to respond to a formal complaint made under the code and not under the guidelines: how does SBS deal or propose to deal with: (a) complaints about a program being interrupted for a commercial break; and (b) objections to the SBS interpretation of a ‘natural break’.

(9) Why is the definition of ‘natural break’ in the guidelines different from the definition in the Special Broadcasting Service Act 1991 .

(10) In relation to natural breaks are there any instances where guidelines 1.1 to 1.8 and 1.10 have been over-ridden by guideline 1.9; if so, can details be provided.

(11) Is it the case that complaints concerning natural breaks cannot be made to the Australian Communications and Media Authority; if so, why.

(12) Can details be provided of informal and formal complaints received by SBS in 2007 that related specifically to advertising and the interruption of programs for commercial breaks; if so, in each instance, what was the response by SBS, including those lodged as formal complaints but not recognised as such by SBS.

(13) For the 12 months to 31 December 2007, how much revenue did SBS receive from all television advertising.

(14) How much revenue did SBS receive from federal and state government advertising on SBS television for the 12 months to: (a) 31 December 2006; and (b) 31 December 2007.

(15) If SBS was to stop interrupting programs for advertisements in 2008 and run commercials between programs only, as used to be the case until late 2006, what would be the estimated decrease in revenue, if any, from the 2007 level of revenue.

(16) If SBS was to stop interrupting programs for advertisements and run advertisements between programs only, as used to be the case until late 2006, how much government funding, in dollar terms and in percentages of federal government funding for SBS, would be required to maintain current SBS operations for the next 12 months.

(17) How much extra funding in dollar terms and in percentages of federal government funding for SBS would be required for the next 12 months in order to drop advertising completely.

Senator Stott Despoja: To ask the Ministers listed below (Question Nos 94-95)—

(1) Has the Minister or the department received any complaints regarding the practices of the Australian International Trade Association (AITA), including the practice of arranging inadequate visas for Australian teachers recruited to teach in China.

(2) Does the practice of facilitating employment in China with inadequate visas breach any Commonwealth laws.

(3) Has the department ever engaged in business with AITA, Mr Michael Guo or Mr Steven Guo (also known as Steven Moon); if so, can details be provided of the nature and extent of any such dealings.

 

 (4) Has the department or any of Australia’s consulates or embassies received any complaints in relation to the conduct of AITA, Mr Michael Guo or Mr Steven Guo; if so, can details be provided of the nature and extent of any such complaint.

(5) Will ministers be required to declare membership of AITA’s ‘honorary board’, pursuant to the Prime Minister’s ‘Standards of Ministerial Ethics’.

94 Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

95 Minister representing the Minister for Trade

Senator Allison: To ask the Ministers listed below (Question Nos 96-98)—

(1) Is the Minister aware of the study by Dr Judy Carman of the Institute of Health and Environmental Research in July 2006, commissioned by the Western Australian Minister for Agriculture and Food, which reviewed abstracts listed on the AgBioWorld website ( www.agbioworld.org) and found that they did not demonstrate that genetically-modified (GM) crops were safe for human consumption, as claimed, and that GM crops may be harmful to human health.

(2) Is the Minister aware that: (a) of the nine abstracts remaining at the end of this process, the majority (six abstracts, or 67 per cent) show potentially adverse effects of GM crops on the health of the experimental animals, while three (33 per cent) found no adverse effects; (b) the six papers showing adverse effects found evidence that GM potatoes could harm the liver and gastrointestinal tract and GM soy could adversely affect the liver and pancreas; (c) one paper found that GM DNA from GM corn was detectible in the intestinal contents of pigs up to 48 hours after eating, making it available for uptake into tissues and gut bacteria; and (d) three papers found no adverse effects: (i) on the development and function of mouse testes from eating GM corn, (ii) on some biochemical measurements from eating GM potatoes, and (iii) on some pathology, haematology, biochemistry and urine measurements from eating GM soy.

(3) In light of this study, will the Minister consider a moratorium on further GM crops in Australia, pending further independent, long-term, peer reviewed, multi-generational animal and human feeding studies, measuring outcomes relevant to human health.

(4) In regard to the Australia New Zealand Food Authority’s approval, in 2003, of the applications of Monsanto Aust Ltd and Bayer Crop Science Pty Ltd for GM canola: (a) which independent, long-term, peer reviewed, multi-generational animal and human feeding studies, measuring outcomes relevant to human health, were relied upon; and (b) which, if any, of these studies was conducted in Australia.

(5) Can the Minister confirm that, of the crop samples so far grown, none has been released for independent, human health-related testing; if so, why.

(6) Is there any requirement for Food Standards Australia New Zealand and the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator to review approvals of GM crops and foods as new information is received; if not: (a) why not; (b) when will the Minister announce such a requirement; and (c) how and when should such new information be reviewed.

 

 (7) (a) If GM canola is introduced into Australia and it is found to have adverse effects on the economy, farming systems, people or the environment, what processes are in place to remove the canola from Australia and/or the food supply; and (b) how effective are these processes likely to be.

96 Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing

97 Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research

98 Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing

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

(1) Is the Minister aware of plans by the United Kingdom’s Department of Health to pilot a scheme which involves the training of pharmacists to prescribe the contraceptive pill in the same way that a general practitioner would, in order to improve access to contraception and reduce unplanned pregnancies.

(2) What data is available on the relationship between contraceptive use and the rate of unintended pregnancy in Australia.

(3) Does data available to the Government suggest that the requirement to obtain a prescription for the contraceptive pill and/or limited access to general practitioners is a factor in reducing contraceptive usage rates.

(4) What steps, if any, does the Government propose to take to improve knowledge about, and use of, all methods of contraception.

100  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs—Will the Government consider awarding Gold Cards to allied merchant seamen who served during World War II and who currently receive a services pension with a health condition; if not, why not.

104  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts—With reference to the Sustainable Cities program, negotiated by the Australian Democrats with the Howard Government as part of the Measures for a Better Environment package in the 2003-04 Budget:

(1) In regard to the built environment, what progress has been made towards: (a) promoting sustainability of the built environment; and (b) developing a comparative study of building standards and codes, model building specifications and best practice material and guidelines for green buildings, beyond the National Australian Built Environment Rating System.

(2) In regard to the enhancement of environment education in schools: (a) what progress has been made towards assisting primary and secondary school students to understand how to improve the efficiency of resource use and integrating this into the day-to-day running of schools; (b) how many environment management systems have been put in place for demonstration schools; (c) of these demonstration schools, which are in low socioeconomic areas; and (d) to date, what has been the cost of this program.

(3) In regard to the green car rating scheme: (a) what evidence is there that the Green Vehicle Guide (GVG) has influenced vehicle purchasing decisions; (b) will the Government consider making it mandatory to publish GVG ratings on advertising and marketing material for new car sales; if not, why not; and (c) will the Government consider introducing mandatory energy efficiency standards for imported and locally manufactured vehicles; if not, why not.

 

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

(1) Is the Government aware that, according to clinical trials conducted by the United States of America’s National Cancer Institute, Herceptin has been shown to reduce the risk of recurrence by approximately 30 per cent for people with HER-2 gene amplification in early stage breast cancer.

(2) In the light of these findings, will the Government now consider allowing patients to access Herceptin on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for longer than the current limit of 12 months; if not, why not.

108  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Human Services—

(1) Can the Minister confirm that Centrelink provides all job seekers, including those not in receipt of unemployment benefit, with free access to JobSearch facilities; if so, why is it that unemployed job seekers are required to provide personal details about their marital status and dependents and are denied access to those services if they refuse.

(2) What advice are Centrelink officers instructed to give job seekers in these circumstances.

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

(1) Does the Government stand by its commitment to support a nuclear weapons convention, made on 14 August 2007 by the then Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Robert McClelland in a speech to the United Nations Association.

(2) Does the Government still consider the idea of a nuclear weapons convention as ‘responsible and timely’; if so, to what extent and in what manner.

(3) Will the Government support moves to implement a nuclear weapons convention in the terms suggested by the Middle Powers Initiative and the updated model nuclear weapons convention, adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly as a discussion document in December 2007.

(4) In detail, what is the Government’s response to the updated model nuclear weapons convention, tabled by Malaysia and Costa Rica in the UN General Assembly Plenary in December 2007.

(5) Will the Government proceed with the creation of a new Canberra Commission, as promised by the Prime Minister (Mr Rudd) prior to the 2007 election; if so, when.

(6) (a) Is the Minister aware that a key recommendation of the original Canberra Commission was the lowering of the operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems; and (b) how has the Government decided to respond to that recommendation and to recommendation 17 of the final report of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Committee, chaired by Dr Hans Blix and tabled on 1 June 2006, to the same effect.

(7) Does the Government consider the UN resolution ‘Renewed determination toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons’ (the renewed determination) to be an appropriate response.

 

 (8) In regard to the more recent resolution L.29 on decreasing the operational readiness of nuclear weapons system, co-sponsored by New Zealand, Chile, Nigeria, Sweden and Switzerland: (a) in what way does it differ from the renewed determination; (b) why did Japan, a co-sponsor of the renewed determination, vote in favour of L.29; (c) were there any reasons, other than the exigencies of time, for the incoming Government not to have voted in support of resolution L.29 on operating status as Japan, Germany, Austria, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Iceland, Ireland, Norway, Finland, Sweden, and New Zealand did; (d) what is the reaction of the Government to the passage of that text by the UN General Assembly in a vote of 136 to 3; (e) why did the three nations, with whom Australia so frequently votes, vote for this resolution while Australia abstained; (f) why was this abstention maintained in the UN General Assembly Plenary; (g) from which non-government organisations did the Government receive correspondence suggesting that it ought to change its vote in the Plenary; and (h) is there anything in the text of resolution L.29 that is, or could be interpreted as being, in any way destabilising; if so, what constructive changes might be made to the resolution.

(9)  Will the Government try to advance the issue of nuclear weapons operating status: (a) at the 2008 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee (NPT PrepCom); (b) at the next UN General Assembly First Committee; and/or (c) in its discussions with the United States of America and/or Russia.

(10) Will the Government consider working together with: (a) New Zealand, Chile, Nigeria, Sweden and Switzerland at the NPT PrepCom to write a working paper on nuclear weapons operational status; (b) the New Agenda group, both on this issue and more widely on nuclear disarmament issues at the NPT PrepCom; and (c) the New Agenda and the Non-Aligned Movement groups, as well as the western groups and the nuclear weapons states, to promote ongoing progress in nuclear disarmament and strategic stability both via the measures set out in the final report of the Year 2000 NPT review and in the renewed determination, and via a lowering in nuclear weapons operational readiness.

(11) What further steps will the Government take towards: (a) lowering nuclear weapons operational readiness; and (b) bringing the world closer to the creation and implementation of a nuclear weapons convention, along the lines of the updated model convention submitted to the UN General Assembly Plenary.

110  Senator Milne: To ask the Minister for Climate Change and Water—

(1) Since the Photovoltaic Rebate Programme started: (a) how many applications for the rebate have been received by the Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO); and (b) how many rebates have been granted.

(2) Since the Solar Hot Water Rebate Programme started: (a) how many applications for the rebate have been received by the AGO; and (b) how many rebates have been granted.

(3) Since the Renewable Remote Power Generation Programme started: (a) how many applications under the program have been received by the AGO; and (b) how many applications have been granted.

(4) Why has there been a delay in the processing and funding of the rebates.

 

 111  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Climate Change and Water—

(1) Is the Government aware of recent studies suggesting that: (a) sea levels are currently rising at a rate of 3 centimetres per decade; (b) if warming slows down at about +3 ° C, sea levels will continue rising by several metres in subsequent centuries; (c) a rise of approximately 2 ° C, which is forecast within the next several decades, could result in extensive melting of large parts of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, raising sea levels by several metres; (d) glaciers and ice caps fringing Greenland and West Antarctica are already showing rapid ice melt rates and decreasing snow falls; (e) sea levels were between 13 and 27 metres higher than today in the Pliocene era, 3 million years ago when temperatures were 2 to 3 ° C higher; and (f) approximately 130 000 years ago, when temperatures were 2 ° C higher, sea levels were between 6 and 8 metres higher than current levels.

(2) What evidence, if any, does the Government have to suggest that these sea levels, which occurred at temperatures well within the projections of the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, would not result with similar temperatures in the future.

(3) How does the Government regard the risk, expressed by many scientists, of global warming reaching ‘tipping points’ involving the release of methane and a decrease in the ocean’s capacity to absorb carbon dioxide, which would result in the acceleration of climate change out of human control.

(4) For the purposes of informing its policies on greenhouse abatement and climate change mitigations and adaptation, what levels above the pre-industrial age is the Government using as objectives for the years 2020, 2050 and 2100 for: (a) atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide; (b) global average near-surface air temperature; and (c) the scale of sea level rise.

(5) If levels have not yet been identified: (a) when will they be identified; and (b) by what process.

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

(1) If the Government has not already procured SMArt 155 munitions, does it intend to.

(2) In regard to the negotiation of a treaty to ban cluster munitions through the Oslo Process, does the Government: (a) believe that SMArt 155 munitions should be exempted from any treaty that bans cluster munitions; if so, what is the justification for this position; (b) oppose the inclusion of a transition period during which the use of cluster munitions would be permitted under the treaty; (c) support provisions that would prohibit a state party from being involved in the use of prohibited cluster munitions belonging to another country; and (d) support the view that any submunition-based weapons which might fall outside the definition of ‘cluster munition’ under the treaty should, if they are to be acquired by, or are currently in the possession of, the Government, meet certain effects-based criteria (e.g. in relation to the risk of unexploded ordnance) and cumulative technical criteria (e.g. in relation to self-destruct and self-deactivation mechanisms); if so, what specifically would these criteria be.

 

 (3) Does the Government support the decision by the Government of Israel not to provide de-miners in Lebanon with maps indicating the locations of cluster munition drops which took place during the war in 2006; if not, is the Government willing to publicly condemn the Government of Israel for that decision.

113  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence—Does the Government intend to maintain: (a) its status as a nuclear umbrella state, by providing bases, ports and other infrastructure to the United States of America (US) for its nuclear war-fighting apparatus, thereby lending support to the idea that nuclear weapons bring security; if so, what is the justification for maintaining this status; and (b) the decades-long policy of neither confirming or denying whether and when US nuclear-armed warships enter Australian harbours.

114  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General—With reference to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission report, Same-Sex: Same Entitlements :

(1) Does the Government intend to:

(a) introduce an omnibus bill to remove discrimination from the 58 Commonwealth laws identified by the report as discriminating against same-sex couples and their families; if not, why not;

(b) remove all such discrimination from Commonwealth laws within a particular time frame; if so, what is that time frame;

(c) enact legislation that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexuality and/or gender identity and provide an avenue of legal redress to those who experience such discrimination; if so, when;

(d) create a national relationship registry that would allow opposite-sex and same-sex couples to register their relationships and giving such relationships automatic recognition under Commonwealth law;

(e) accept referrals of power from state governments over property division to enable the Commonwealth Government to treat same-sex couples in the same way as opposite-sex couples for the purposes of property law;

(f) engage with state governments to achieve fairer laws in regard to parenting presumptions for, and adoptions by, people in same-sex relationships; and/or

(g) create a phase-in period for the social security changes recommended in the report as a way of mitigating adverse effects of the changes on the lives of those concerned; if so, how long will the phase-in period be.

(2) Following the enactment of legislation aimed at implementing the recommendations of the report, does the Government intend to:

(a) conduct an audit of government policy and regulation instructions potentially effected by the legislation; and/or

(b) initiate a public education campaign to notify same-sex couples of their new rights.

115  Senator Ellison: To ask the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship—With reference to media responses by the Minister, spokespersons and the department: Has the Minister established guidelines on which media enquiries will be responded to by the Minister and his office and which media enquiries will be responded to by the department; if so, what are these guidelines.

 

 116  Senator Ellison: To ask the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship—With reference to overseas travel by the Minister and/or departmental and agency officers since 3 December 2007:

(1) What overseas travel has been undertaken; (b) what was the purpose of the travel; (c) when did the Minister and/or officers depart Australia; (d) who travelled with the Minister and/or officers; and (e) when did the Minister and/or officers return to Australia.

(2) (a) Who did the Minister and/or officers meet during the visit; and (b) what was the time and date of each meeting.

(3) (a) On how many trips was the Minister and/or officers accompanied by a business delegation; and (b) can details be provided of each of these delegations.

(4) Who met the cost of travel and other expenses associated with the trip.

(5) What total travel and associated expenses, if any, were met by the department in relation to: (a) the Minister; (b) the Minister’s family; (c) the Minister’s staff; and (d) departmental and/or agency staff.

(6) For the Minister, the Minister’s family, the Minister’s staff and for each departmental/agency officer, what were the costs, per expenditure item, including, but not necessarily limited to: (a) fares; (b) allowances; (c) accommodation; (d) hospitality; (e) insurance; and (f) other costs.

(7) (a) What was the total cost of air charters used by the Minister or his office or department; and (b) on how many occasions did the Minister or his office or department and associated agencies charter aircraft; and (c) in each case, what was the name of the charter company that provided the service and the respective costs.

Senator Minchin: To ask the Ministers listed below (Question Nos 117-152)—With reference to Senator Minchin’s letter to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, dated 1 February 2008, can the following information be provided prior to each round of Estimates and for Additional Estimates by 13 February 2008:

(1) (a) What appointments have been made by the Government (through Executive Council, Cabinet and ministers) to statutory authorities, executive agencies and advisory boards within the Minister’s portfolio; and (b) for each appointment, what are the respective appointee’s credentials.

(2) How many vacancies remain to be filled by ministerial (including Cabinet and Executive Council) appointments.

(3) What grants have been approved by the Minister from within the Minister’s portfolio.

(4) What requests have been submitted to the Department of Finance and Deregulation to move funds within the Minister’s portfolio.

117 Minister representing the Prime Minister

118 Minister representing the Minister for Education

119 Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations

120 Minister representing the Minister for Social Inclusion

121 Minister representing the Treasurer

122 Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

123 Special Minister of State

 

 124 Minister representing the Minister for Trade

125 Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs

126 Minister representing the Minister for Defence

127 Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing

128 Minister representing the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

129 Minister representing the Minister for Finance and Deregulation

130 Minister representing the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government

131 Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy

132 Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research

133 Minister for Climate Change and Water

134 Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

135 Minister representing the Attorney-General

136 Minister for Human Services

137 Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

138 Minister representing the Minister for Resources and Energy

139 Minister representing the Minister for Tourism

140 Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs

141 Minister representing the Assistant Treasurer

142 Minister representing the Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs

143 Minister representing the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

144 Minister representing the Minister for Housing

145 Minister representing the Minister for the Status of Women

146 Minister representing the Minister for Employment Participation

147 Minister representing the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel

148 Minister representing the Minister for Small Business, Independent Contractors and the Service Economy

149 Minister for Superannuation and Corporate Law

150 Minister representing the Minister for Ageing

151 Minister representing the Minister for Youth

152 Minister representing the Minister for Sport

Senator Minchin: To ask the Ministers listed below (Question Nos 153-188)—(a) Can details be provided of each election commitment the administration of which falls within the Minister’s portfolio; and (b) what is the estimated value of each commitment.

153 Minister representing the Prime Minister

154 Minister representing the Minister for Education

155 Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations

156 Minister representing the Minister for Social Inclusion

157 Minister representing the Treasurer

158 Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

159 Special Minister of State

 

 160 Minister representing the Minister for Trade

161 Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs

162 Minister representing the Minister for Defence

163 Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing

164 Minister representing the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

165 Minister representing the Minister for Finance and Deregulation

166 Minister representing the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government

167 Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy

168 Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research

169 Minister for Climate Change and Water

170 Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

171 Minister representing the Attorney-General

172 Minister for Human Services

173 Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

174 Minister representing the Minister for Resources and Energy

175 Minister representing the Minister for Tourism

176 Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs

177 Minister representing the Assistant Treasurer

178 Minister representing the Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs

179 Minister representing the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

180 Minister representing the Minister for Housing

181 Minister representing the Minister for the Status of Women

182 Minister representing the Minister for Employment Participation

183 Minister representing the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel

184 Minister representing the Minister for Small Business, Independent Contractors and the Service Economy

185 Minister for Superannuation and Corporate Law

186 Minister representing the Minister for Ageing

187 Minister representing the Minister for Youth

188 Minister representing the Minister for Sport

Senator Cormann: To ask the Ministers listed below (Question Nos 189-224)—With reference to the Government’s pre-election commitment to release surplus land in order to help ease the housing affordability crisis: (a) since 24 November 2007, what land owned by the department or any agency in the Minister’s portfolio has been identified as surplus to requirements; and (b) what land is currently for sale or in the process of being sold.

189 Minister representing the Prime Minister

190 Minister representing the Minister for Education

191 Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations

192 Minister representing the Minister for Social Inclusion

193 Minister representing the Treasurer

 

 194 Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

195 Special Minister of State

196 Minister representing the Minister for Trade

197 Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs

198 Minister representing the Minister for Defence

199 Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing

200 Minister representing the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

201 Minister representing the Minister for Finance and Deregulation

202 Minister representing the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government

203 Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy

204 Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research

205 Minister for Climate Change and Water

206 Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

207 Minister representing the Attorney-General

208 Minister for Human Services

209 Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

210 Minister representing the Minister for Resources and Energy

211 Minister representing the Minister for Tourism

212 Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs

213 Minister representing the Assistant Treasurer

214 Minister representing the Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs

215 Minister representing the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

216 Minister representing the Minister for Housing

217 Minister representing the Minister for the Status of Women

218 Minister representing the Minister for Employment Participation

219 Minister representing the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel

220 Minister representing the Minister for Small Business, Independent Contractors and the Service Economy

221 Minister for Superannuation and Corporate Law

222 Minister representing the Minister for Ageing

223 Minister representing the Minister for Youth

224 Minister representing the Minister for Sport

Senator Cormann: To ask the Ministers listed below (Question Nos 225-260)—

(1) (a) Since 24 November 2007, what federal funding, programs and/or services to Western Australia have been cut and/or discontinued in any of the Minister’s portfolio agencies; and (b) what savings have been made from these cuts.

 

 (2) (a) What plans does the Government have to cut and/or discontinue federal funding, programs and/or services to Western Australia in any of the Minister’s portfolio agencies in the coming period; and (b) what estimated savings would be made from these cuts.

225 Minister representing the Prime Minister

226 Minister representing the Minister for Education

227 Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations

228 Minister representing the Minister for Social Inclusion

229 Minister representing the Treasurer

230 Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

231 Special Minister of State

232 Minister representing the Minister for Trade

233 Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs

234 Minister representing the Minister for Defence

235 Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing

236 Minister representing the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

237 Minister representing the Minister for Finance and Deregulation

238 Minister representing the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government

239 Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy

240 Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research

241 Minister for Climate Change and Water

242 Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

243 Minister representing the Attorney-General

244 Minister for Human Services

245 Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

246 Minister representing the Minister for Resources and Energy

247 Minister representing the Minister for Tourism

248 Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs

249 Minister representing the Assistant Treasurer

250 Minister representing the Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs

251 Minister representing the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

252 Minister representing the Minister for Housing

253 Minister representing the Minister for the Status of Women

254 Minister representing the Minister for Employment Participation

255 Minister representing the Minister for Defence

256 Minister representing the Minister for Small Business, Independent Contractors and the Service Economy

257 Minister for Superannuation and Corporate Law

258 Minister representing the Minister for Ageing

259 Minister representing the Minister for Youth

260 Minister representing the Minister for Sport

 

Senator Cormann: To ask the Ministers listed below (Question Nos 261-264)—With reference to the pre-election commitment that the Government will set a new 20 per cent renewable energy target to be met by 2020 and a further target to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent by 2050:

(1) Has any modelling been conducted by any of the Minister’s portfolio agencies to assess the economic impact of either of the targets, specifically on how it would impact on inflation; if not, why not; if so: (a) have findings of that modelling been presented to the Government and/or the Minister; (b) what were these findings; (c) has the Minister endorsed these findings; if not, why not.

(2) When will the findings of any economic modelling referred to in paragraph (1) be made public.

261 Minister representing the Prime Minister

262 Minister representing the Treasurer

263 Minister for Climate Change and Water

264 Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

265  Senator Ray: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Finance and Deregulation—For each Minister, Assistant Minister or Parliamentary Secretary in each of the former government’s portfolios: (a) was the Minister, Assistant Minister or Parliamentary Secretary provided with a pay television package by the department for: (i) the electorate office, (ii) the ministerial office in the home state, and/or (iii) home; and (b) if so, what was the cost of each pay television package.

266  Senator Stott Despoja: To ask the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship—

(1) (a) On what basis would persons applying for a visa to enter Australia receive a warning from the department that their conduct and character may prevent them from being granted a visa in the future; and (b) is an individual ever given the opportunity to challenge the accuracy of the information which forms the basis of an immigration official’s decision to warn a person.

(2) For each year since 1996: (a) how many people were denied a visa; and (b) how many of these determinations were based on a person: (i) having a past criminal conviction, and (ii) having been charged but not convicted of a crime.

(3) (a) In relation to character grounds, other than criminal convictions, on what grounds will a decision be made to refuse a visa; and (b) what steps, if any, do immigration officials take to verify the information.

(4) For each year since 1996, how many times has the Minister or the previous Minister exercised his or her discretion pursuant to section 499 of the Migration Act 1958 to permit the entry of people into Australia.

(5) For each year since 1996, how many people have exercised their appeal rights to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in relation to decisions to refuse entry on the basis of character grounds.

267  Senator Stott Despoja: To ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister—

(1) Under what legislation, regulations or codes are ‘public interest disclosure’ and/or whistleblower and like claims processed.

 

 (2) What criteria are used in the Australian Public Service generally to determine the validity of claims under ‘public interest disclosure’ situations, that is, by whistleblowers or people making whistleblower-like claims or allegations.

(3) Does the criterion for assessing the validity of a whistleblower or a whistleblower type claim include any psychiatric or psychological assessment; if so, what is the legislative basis for such an assessment, including specific clauses.

268  Senator Stott Despoja: To ask the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy—

(1) Does the Minister intend to reconvene a working party with a view to settling the remaining 16 Casualties of Telstra (COT) cases from the late 1990s.

(2) What support, if any, is the Minister offering the remaining 16 COTs.

(3) Will the Minister arrange an independent loss assessment for the remaining 16 COT cases so that full and final settlement can occur.

269  Senator Murray: To ask the Minister representing the Treasurer—

(1) What costs would be incurred and what ramifications are there if the administration of the Medicare Levy surcharge was adjusted to ensure that it affects or is calculated for same-sex couples on the same basis as mixed-sex couples.

(2) In view of the Prime Minister’s statements in favour of ending discriminatory provisions, does the government intend to address this deficiency.

270  Senator Murray: To ask the Minister representing the Treasurer—

(1) With reference to the former Treasurer’s statement of 27 June 2007 on the release of the 2006 census information that ‘the Census forms the basis for our electoral system, the provision of services and policy to meet the challenges that we face’: does this mean that the effects of fly-in and fly-out workers who record their domicile elsewhere, or of transient/tourist numbers, will not be sufficiently taken into account for the provision of services in shires such as Roebourne and Wyndham East Kimberley; if not, how are fly-in fly-out or transient/tourist requirements factored in.

(2) Given that, according to the recently released Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) census figures, in the Kimberley Region, between 2001 and 2006, the population of Broome has risen by only 1.8 per cent, or 1 240 people, and in the Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley, by just 0.4 per cent, or 133 people: (a) why do these figures differ from the shires’ views as to significant real population growth; and (b) how were these figures arrived at, given, for instance, that school student numbers, a good indicator of permanency, in the region have risen by more than this amount in absolute terms (e.g. at Kununurra District High School, by at least 13 per cent).

(3) Do census collectors obtain accurate figures from Indigenous communities in the Kimberley; if not, what is the degree of error.

 

 (4) Has the ABS investigated its figures to determine how such apparent small rises in overall population in the Kimberley can be possible, given the rise in housing demand and construction in these areas since the 2001 census and the overall increase in numbers of children enrolled in the local schools, in some areas, up at least 10 per cent.

(5) Given that, according to an ABS seminar in Kununurra in 2007, the community was advised that the figures for the 2006 census were collated based on ‘place of enumeration’ while the method used in the 1996 census and the 2001 census was ‘usual place of residence’: (a) what impact has this change had on the census outcome; and (b) have Australians still continued to identify their usual place of residence (e.g. Perth) rather than place of enumeration (e.g. Argyle Mine).

(6) Can the Treasurer confirm that any funding allocations from the Commonwealth, which are aligned to population numbers based on the census, will take into account other factors, such as housing demand and school enrolments in the East Kimberley, when considering funding allocation.