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Wednesday, 25 September 2002
Page: 4870

Senator Ferguson to move on the next day of sitting:

That the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade be authorised to hold a public meeting during the sitting of the Senate on Wednesday, 23 October 2002, from 11 am to 12.30 pm, to take evidence for the committee's inquiry into central Europe.

Senator Sherry to move on the next day of sitting:

That the Senate notes the Howard Government's third term failures on superannuation, including:

(a) the failure to provide for a contributions tax cut for all Australians who pay it, rather than a tax cut only to those earning more than $90,500 a year;

(b) the failure to adequately compensate victims of superannuation theft or fraud;

(c) the failure to accurately assess the administrative burden on small business of the Government's third attempt at superannuation choice and deregulation;

(d) the failure to support strong consumer protections for superannuation fund members through capping ongoing fees and banning entry and exit fees;

(e) the failure to provide consumers with a meaningful, comprehensive and comprehensible regime for fee disclosure; and

(f) the failure to cover unpaid superannuation contributions in the case of corporate collapse as part of a workers' entitlements scheme.

Senator Allison to move on the next day of sitting:

That the Senate—

(a) notes:

(i) that Australians use an estimated 13 million plastic bags a year,

(ii) that the introduction of a plastic bag levy in Ireland in March 2002 has totally changed consumer behaviour so now about 90 per cent of people bring their own bags to avoid paying the levy,

(iii) the serious, and sometimes fatal, impact plastic bags have on Australia's native fauna and flora, and an estimated 100 000 birds, whales, seals and turtles around the world,

(iv) that, according to research conducted by the Council for the Encouragement of Philanthropy, 85 per cent of shoppers in Australia support a levy on plastic bags, and

(v) the recent comments by the Minister for the Environment and Heritage (Dr Kemp) that the Government is considering a plastic bag levy if measures under the National Packaging Covenant fail;

(b) congratulates the Council for the Encouragement of Philanthropy in Australia for its research and lobbying for a levy on plastic bags; and

(c) urges the Federal Government to consider a levy on plastic bags as a priority, independent of the National Packaging Covenant.

Senator Allison to move on the next day of sitting:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) the building sector accounts for about 20 per cent of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions,

(ii) the Victorian Government has proposed a compulsory `five-star' minimum energy rating for new homes,

(iii) a minimum five-star energy rating for new houses could halve energy demand for heating and cooling in those homes,

(iv) within 10 years this will result in the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of around 2 million tonnes in Victoria, the equivalent of removing 550 000 cars from the road or planting 3 million trees,

(v) most Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries have had minimum building energy performance requirements for more than a decade, and

(vi) in comparison with most European countries and North America, the Victorian five-star rating sets a lower standard of energy efficiency;

(b) welcomes the Victorian Government's move towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the building sector; and

(c) urges the Victorian Government to take the next step by taking into account solar hot water and photovoltaic systems in calculating building energy ratings.

Senator Allison to move on the next day of sitting:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) United Nations (UN) efforts to accomplish the decolonisation process in Western Sahara have not been successful yet,

(ii) more than 165 000 Saharawis have been living in refugee camps in the south-west of Algeria for the past 27 years in dire conditions, waiting to return to their homeland which is occupied by Morocco,

(iii) the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1429 on 30 July 2002 and asked the UN Secretary-General and his personal envoy to continue their efforts to provide a genuine opportunity for the Saharawi people to exercise their right to self-determination,

(iv) the mandate of the UN mission for the organisation of a referendum on self-determination in Western Sahara expires on 31 January 2003,

(v) the only just, legal and lasting solution to the conflict in the Western Sahara is the organisation of a free and fair referendum to allow the Saharawi people to exercise their right to self-determination, in accordance with the UN/Organisation of African Union peace plan, and

(vi) a failure by the UN to implement the peace plan would compromise UN credibility and lead to further instability in north-west Africa;

(b) calls on both parties in the conflict, Morocco and the Frente Polisario, to cooperate fully with the UN in its efforts to organise a free and fair referendum in Western Sahara; and

(c) urges the Commonwealth Government to make representations to:

(i) the UN, urging it to proceed in organising the long overdue referendum of self-determination without further delays, and

(ii) the Moroccan Government, asking it to cooperate fully with the UN, to respect human rights in the occupied territories and allow independent observers to visit Western Sahara.

Senator Hutchins to move on the next day of sitting:


(a) the Community Affairs References Committee request the Commonwealth Ombudsman to report to the committee annually, at least for the next 5 years, on the operation of the social security breaches and penalties system; and

(b) the committee publish the Ombudsman's report and, if it considers its necessary, seek submissions from interested parties before formulating any proposals it may wish to make for improving the operation of the system.

Senator Ridgeway to move on the next day of sitting:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that Ms Mary Robinson ended her term as the second United Nations (UN) Human Rights Commissioner in September 2002, having held the office since September 1997 and having won the praise and respect of human rights advocates around the world for her strong, principled and consistent promotion and protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms;

(b) welcomes the appointment of Mr Sergio Vieira de Mello as the new UN Human Rights Commissioner, following his leadership of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor and longstanding contribution to the promotion and defence of human rights in other UN posts, including Kosovo, Lebanon and Cambodia;

(c) pays tribute to the tireless and courageous work undertaken by Ms Robinson as UN Human Rights Commissioner, acknowledging that she:

(i) held this demanding position during a particularly unstable period in world history, including the civil war and peacekeeping effort in Sierra Leone, the civil unrest and wars in the former Yugoslavia, the independence of East Timor, growing unrest in the Middle East, the attack on the World Trade Centre and the war in Afghanistan,

(ii) was proactive in her promotion of universal human rights, visiting some 60 countries, including China, Russia and Israel, to address concerns about the erosion of fundamental principles of civil liberty and basic human rights, including the rights of minorities and refugees, and

(iii) worked skilfully to promote greater public understanding of fundamental human rights, particularly through international conferences, including the UN World Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa, in 2001; and

(d) concurs with Ms Robinson's philosophy that anything less than universal adherence to the basic principles of human rights will diminish, `our capacity to transmit these values to succeeding generations'.