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Notice given 29 November 2012

*2636  Senator Ronaldson: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs—

(1) With reference to the $7.9 million announced to purchase 20 additional Smart Gates to streamline border processing, and the simultaneously announced staff cuts of 190 positions, does the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (the agency) foresee any problems associated with reducing staff before Smart Gates are shown to effectively take their place.

(2) Does the agency have plans to install Smart Gates at departure points.

(3) What fee structures have been agreed to within the agency for airlines to administer the Government’s Passenger Movement Charge (PMC).

(4) Given that the Government announced the reduction of 190 Agency staff, further to the 70 cuts over the previous year which led to longer passenger facilitation times at airports, with an average increased wait of 24 minutes, industrial action, and concerns over lax attitudes to border security, has the agency or department measured the impact of this latest staff cut in terms of increased wait-times for passengers at airports; if so, what is the impact.

(5) With respect to staff cuts at airports, how many are desk officers and how many are frontline agents.

(6) Is the Minister aware of a 25 June 2012 report by the Australian National Audit Office showing the uptake of Smart Gates is well below what the Government had anticipated.

(7) What is the average passenger referral rate (biometric failure rate) for Smart Gates at all Australian international airports.

(8) What is the forecast average passenger referral rate (biometric failure rate) for Smart Gates at all Australian international airports following the expansion of Smart Gate kiosks by the 2014-15 financial year.

(9) Has the agency projected the cost of increased enforcement and communication with passengers associated with the reduction in the tobacco-related allowance effective from 1 September 2012.

(10) What is the average cost associated with individual passenger facilitation at Australian international airports by the agency.

(11) On what basis was the workload growth funding of $3.95 per passenger derived.

(12) What individual capital works programs will be cancelled from the agency as a result of the $19.5 million cut to the capital works program contained within the forward estimates of the 2012-13 Budget.

(13) What are the total labour costs associated with the administration of the Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS) in Australia.

(14) Can a cost breakdown of TRS administration be provided including: (a) the number and level of staff (actual and full-time equivalent) allocated to TRS functions at each international airport and shipping port; and (b) the number of staff allocated to back-of-office administration of TRS payments and refunds.

(15) What are the total non-labour costs associated with the administration of the TRS in Australia.

(16) What is the total monthly expenditure incurred by the agency for the rental of airport premises for TRS processing and export verification activities.

(17) What has the Government paid in commissions to airlines to administer the PMC since its inception, including: (a) how much has been paid each year since 1996; (b) how much has been paid to each airline; and (c) how much is paid per ticket.

(18) What tourism sector impact modelling has been conducted on the impacts of passing the $118.1 million in costs related to Australian Federal Police (AFP) security to airports.

(19) What consultation was conducted between the AFP, Government and the operators of Australian airports where AFP staff are stationed in relation to the budgeted increase in AFP costs levied to airport operators.

(20) What is the process by which the AFP determine current and future AFP staffing levels at Australian airports.

(21) What level of consultation is conducted between the AFP and the operators of Australian airports with respect to current and future AFP staffing levels.

(22) How many full-time equivalent staffing positions will be reduced at Australian airports due to the efficiency dividend implemented during the 2012-13 financial year.

(23) With reference to the transfer of $118.1 million in costs related to AFP security to airports, which will pass these costs to tourists, and given that a previous PMC increase was said to cover the cost of AFP security at airports, can an explanation be provided regarding this ‘double dipping’.

*2637† Senator Ronaldson: To ask the Minister representing the Treasurer—With reference to the announcement made by the Treasurer prior to the 2012-13 Budget, that relief would be granted to businesses struggling in the ‘two-speed economy’ by implementing a Tax Loss Carry Back initiative, how many tourism-connected businesses have benefited from this measure.

*2638  Senator Ronaldson: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations—

(1) Given that the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism asserts there is a 36 000 employee shortfall in the tourism sector and that labour force vacancies will rise: (a) what work has been undertaken to address this by the Minister and the Minister’s department, and has it been successful; and (b) how many individuals are involved in the Seasonal Worker Program, what paperwork is an operator required to complete in order to participate in the scheme, and can copies of this paperwork be provided.

(2) With reference to the funding secured to expedite research on tourism employment ‘hotspots’ over the next 12 months: (a) how much has been allocated for this project; (b) what work does this involve; and (c) what key performance indicators have been set for this project.

(3) Given that matched funding has been promised for consequent training in the National Workforce Development Fund (NWDF), how much has been allocated and what timeframe is set for the roll-out of the NWDF.

(4) Can a report be provided on the development of the careers promotion campaign, building on the Discover Tourism and Discover Hospitality websites.

(5) Does the Seasonal Worker Program underway apply to all types of tourism-connected businesses, such as restaurants, or does it only apply to accommodation providers, and how many businesses are currently participating.

(6) Can an update be provided on the labour agreement for temporary skilled migrants for tourism and hospitality.

(7) (a) Has the trial of an $18 million over 4 years Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme for workers from the Pacific and East Timor in select industries been a success; (b) against what key performance indicators was this trial assessed; (c) how many participants are included in the trial and in any subsequent roll-out; and (d) what obligations are placed on employers wishing to participate, including paperwork and administrative obligations.

*2639† Senator Ronaldson: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport—

(1) With reference to the Office of Transport Security: (a) will the Enhanced Cargo Examination Program continue following the cancellation of Government funding; and (b) from where will the program now receive funding.

(2) With reference to the 2012 report of the Steering Committee overseeing the Joint Study on aviation capacity for the Sydney Region: (a) will the department adopt Recommendation 6 of the report; if so, how will the review be undertaken and what is the timeframe; (b) are there any operational or technical reasons why Recommendation 7 could be rejected in favour of moving regional services outside of the slot management system at Sydney Airport; and (c) will the department adopt Recommendation 8; if so, how will the this review be undertaken and what is the timeframe.

(3) With reference to the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC): (a) what are the comparative maintenance costs attributed to passenger and freight operations on the interstate rail network; and (b) why does the current ARTC access pricing regime fail to reflect this difference.

*2640  Senator Milne: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities—With reference to the illegal trade in wildlife, in and out of Australia:

(1) In the past 10 years: (a) how many allegations of wildlife crime has the department received; (b) how many of these have led to seizures; (c) how many wildlife smugglers have been prosecuted and can the details of these prosecutions be provided; and (d) how many convictions have been made and what were the penalties imposed.

(2) What assessment has been undertaken in recent years to estimate the volume of the illegal trade in wildlife.

(3) How does the department proactively monitor and investigate wildlife smuggling activities.

(4) Is the establishment of a national intelligence database for wildlife crime under consideration; if not, why not.

(5) How does the department address the threat to native species of diseases introduced by wildlife smuggling, and what budget is allocated to this.

(6) Is proventricular dilatation disease recognised as infectious; if so, when was it officially recognised as infectious.

(7) What is the process when a disease is diagnosed in Australia which is not officially recognised as infectious, but is in other countries.

(8) Does the department track international developments in wildlife diseases, what domestic risk analysis is conducted and what budget is allocated to this work.

(9) How many new infectious wildlife diseases have been officially recognised in past 10 years.

(10) Is the department aware of other potentially infectious diseases that may be introduced to Australia via the illegal trade in wildlife that are not currently officially recognised as infectious; if so: (a) what are the diseases and how are they spread; (b) what threat do they pose to native species; and (c) what is being done to prevent the introduction of these diseases.

(11) What has been the budget for wildlife smuggling investigations and activities for each year in the past 10 years, including 2012.

(12) How are the risks of official diseases and potential new diseases factored into the allocation of resources for wildlife smuggling activities and investigations.

*2641  Senator Milne: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs ( transferred to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry on 10 December 2012 )—With reference to the illegal trade in wildlife, in and out of Australia:

(1) What is the process for dealing with an introduced wildlife disease that is not officially recognised as infectious in Australia.

(2) Is proventricular dilatation disease officially recognised as infectious; if so, when was it officially recognised as infectious.

(3) Is Customs aware of other potentially infectious diseases that may be introduced to Australia via the illegal trade in wildlife that are not currently officially recognised as infectious; if so: (a) what are the diseases and how are they spread; (b) what threat do they pose to native species; and (c) what is being done to prevent the introduction of these diseases.

(4) What is the process for officially recognising a disease as infectious.

(5) How are quarantine requests on wildlife enforced.

(6) If a disease is not officially recognised as infectious, how are quarantine requests handled.

(7) What is the process when a disease is diagnosed in Australia which is not officially recognised as infectious, but is in other countries.

(8) Does the department track international developments in wildlife diseases, what domestic risk analysis is conducted and what budget is allocated to this work.

(9) How does Customs proactively monitor and investigate wildlife smuggling activities.

(10) What assessment has been undertaken in recent years to estimate the volume of the illegal trade in wildlife.

(11) What has been the budget for wildlife smuggling investigations and activities for each year in the past 10 years, including 2012.

(12) How are the risks of official diseases and potential new diseases factored into the allocation of resources for wildlife smuggling activities and investigations.

(13) What measures are being taken to prevent wildlife smuggling and the introduction of diseases by wildlife smugglers.

(14) In the past 10 years: (a) how many instances of wildlife smuggling has Customs dealt with; (b) how many of these have led to seizures; (c) how many wildlife smugglers have been prosecuted and can the details of these prosecutions be provided; and (d) how many convictions have been made and what were the penalties imposed.

*2642  Senator Scullion: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs—With reference to the grant of $14 million from the Aboriginals Benefit Account that was approved for the Traditional Credit Union (TCU) in June 2011 and the following issues, which are having an impact on the ability of TCU to effectively deliver, compete and expand its financial services into remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory:

(1) Why is TCU required to cover upfront costs and then claim reimbursement, rather than being paid on an advance and acquittal basis.

(2) Why is TCU required to use the money of its members for the expansion of services and then claim reimbursement, given that this has not been a requirement of other grant recipients in the Northern Territory, including other large Aboriginal Development Corporations.

(3) Why is the TCU prevented from investing the grant funds, which would allow it to obtain and retain interest monies to assist with meeting the operational costs associated with the expansion of services to remote locations.

Senator Siewert: To ask the Ministers listed below (Question Nos *2643-*2644)—

(1) Is the Minister aware of the closure of the Eucla weather station in Western Australia.

(2) Why was the Eucla weather station closed.

(3) Has any account been taken of the effect of this closure on the quality of services to the local community.

*2643 Minister representing the Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government ( transferred to the Minister representing the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities on 12 December 2012 )

*2644 Minister representing the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities