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Thursday, 26 September 2002
Page: 5078

Senator O'Brien asked the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, upon notice, on 28 August 2002:

(1) What is the total Commonwealth expenditure on the exercise.

(2) How many international observers will observe the exercise.

(3) What countries have expressed interest in observing the exercise.

(4) What countries will be permitted to have observers present.

(5) How was the decision in respect to observation conveyed to each country that expressed interest in observing the exercise.

(6) On what basis was it determined whether a country would be permitted to have observers present.

(7) What arrangements are in place, by country, for those countries that expressed interest in observing the exercise but will not be permitted to be present.

(8) Was the Minister, or his office, involved in the decision to permit or deny observation status.

Senator Ian Macdonald (Minister for Forestry and Conservation) —The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) As Exercise Minotaur has only recently been completed, with the reporting phase now commenced, the total actual cost to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (AFFA) is yet to be finalised. However, the indicative budget over two years (2001/2002 and 2002/2003) is $503,000. This budget includes the costs of overseas observers, information technology support, communications etc.; it does not include the ongoing salary costs of AFFA personnel.

We are not in a position to comment on the costs to other Commonwealth agencies.

(2) Five international observers participated in the Exercise.

(3) Many countries asked to observe the Exercise including Japan, the Netherlands, Korea, Taiwan, Argentina and Uruguay.

(4) The United States, Canada, Office Internationale des Epizooties/Asia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

(5) An explanation of the nature of the Exercise was given to those countries that expressed an interested in observing, including possible limitations of observing given the communications focus of the exercise. However, it was suggested that greater value would be gained during post-exercise briefing on Australia's overall FMD response arrangements including lessons learned from Minotaur. This would follow consideration of the issues by industry and governments in Australia.

(6) Individuals with particular expertise were invited to participate in the Exercise. These were:

· two participants from North America are simulation planning experts who had worked with AFFA in the initial stages of Minotaur planning. They were also involved in the planning of the North American Tripartite exercise conducted in 1999;

· a senior officer in the United Kingdom during the FMD outbreak brought broad policy and whole of government experience and participated to provide advice on that aspect of the exercise;

· Office Internationale des Epizooties (OIE)—world organization for animal health—was represented through the Deputy President of the OIE Regional Commission for Asia, the Far East and Oceania (representing the Director General of the OIE) and considered matters on a broad animal health perspective; and

· a senior official representing New Zealand participated to provide advice on whole of government arrangements as well as the common interests between Australia and New Zealand.

(7) For those countries that expressed an interested in participating in post-exercise briefing, a draft schedule has been developed and will be implemented over 2002/2003.

(8) The decision to permit or deny observers was made by AFFA, following consultation with the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.