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Notice given 12 February 2008

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 ( transferred to the Minister for Climate Change and Water on 3 April 2008 )—

(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.

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.

17 Minister representing the Treasurer

19 Special Minister of State

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

29 Minister for Climate Change and Water

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

32 Minister for Human Services

33 Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

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

45 Minister for Superannuation and Corporate Law

46 Minister representing the Minister for Ageing

 

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

131 Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy

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

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 ( transferred to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations on 28 March 2008 )

147 Minister representing the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel ( transferred to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence on 3 April 2008 )

149 Minister for Superannuation and Corporate Law

150 Minister representing the Minister for Ageing

151 Minister representing the Minister for Youth ( transferred to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations on 28 March 2008 )

152 Minister representing the Minister for Sport

Senator Cormann: To ask the Ministers listed below (Question Nos 189-224) ( question nos 189-200 and 202-224 transferred to the Minister representing the Minister for Finance and Deregulation on 11 March 2008 )—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.

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

231 Special Minister of State

237 Minister representing the Minister for Finance and Deregulation

244 Minister for Human Services

245 Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

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

254 Minister representing the Minister for Employment Participation ( transferred to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations on 28 March 2008 )

257 Minister for Superannuation and Corporate Law

259 Minister representing the Minister for Youth ( transferred to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations on 28 March 2008 )

 

 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.