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Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Page: 48

Senator Hurley to move on the next day of sitting:

   That the time for the presentation of the following reports of the Economics Committee be extended to 26 February 2009:

(a)   provisions of the Tax Laws Amendment (Taxation of Financial Arrangements) Bill 2008; and

(b)   provisions of the Trade Practices Amendment (Cartel Conduct and Other Measures) Bill 2008.

Senator Cormann to move on the next day of sitting:

   That the Senate—

(a)   notes that:

(i)   the Select Committee on Fuel and Energy contracted Dr Brian Fisher from Concept Economics to conduct an independent peer review of the Department of the Treasury modelling of the impact of the Government’s proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme,

(ii)   the committee wrote to the Treasurer (Mr Swan) on 9 December 2008 requesting that Dr Fisher, be given ‘full access to the government’s complete documentation of the government’s models together with the model codes and databases and any other model simulations undertaken relevant to the policy scenarios, but not publicly released’ by 17 December 2008,

(iii)   to date the Treasurer has not responded to the above request, despite Dr Fisher’s report being due to the committee on 30 January 2009, and

(iv)   Dr Fisher has reported that he was impeded in carrying out the work requested by the committee because the information requested from the Treasurer was not made available to him; and

(b)   orders that there be laid on the table by the Minister representing the Treasurer, no later than noon on 5 February 2009, the following information relating to the Department of the Treasury modelling, Australia’s low pollution future: The economics of climate change mitigation:

(i)   the model documentation and codes together with all databases for both the global trade and environment model and the Monash multi-regional forecasting model that were employed in the department’s modelling of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme scenarios in a form that would allow the reproduction of the department’s results, and

(ii)   any other model simulations undertaken relevant to the abovementioned policy scenarios but not publicly released.

Senator Cormann to move on the next day of sitting:

   That the Senate—

(a)   notes:

(i)   the response from the Department of the Treasury to straightforward questions regarding the amount of revenue collected as a result of the increase in the excise on ‘alcopops’ effective 27 April 2008 and other excise measures [question no. sbt 3, parts (1), (18), (19) and (20)] placed on notice at hearings of the Economics Committee in October 2008, that ‘This information is not publicly available’, and

(ii)   that there has never been any suggestion, nor would it be accepted by the Senate, that answers to questions asked by senators at estimates hearings should be limited to publicly available material;

(b)   considers that this response amounts to a refusal to answer the questions;

(c)   orders that there be laid on the table by 5 February 2009 meaningful answers to parts (1), (18), (19) and (20) of question no. sbt 3, previously placed on notice at hearings of the Economics Committee in October 2008; and

(d)   orders that there be laid on the table by 23 February 2009, meaningful answers to the following additional questions:

(i)   what tax revenue has been collected in each of the following categories of alcohol since 27 April 2008:

(a)   beer,

(b)   cask wine,

(c)   bottled wine,

(d)   cider,

(e)   spirits, and

(f)   other excisable beverages, i.e. ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages (alcopops),

(ii)   for each of the categories in question (d)(i), what volumes of alcohol (measured in litres of alcohol) were either:

(a)   cleared for home consumption, or

(b)   subject to tax under the A New Tax System (Wine Equalisation Tax) Act 1999,

(iii)   what is the measured price elasticity of RTD beverages, given the data collected since 27 April 2008,

(iv)   is the measured elasticity since 27 April 2008 consistent with the Department of the Treasury modelling underlying the revenue impacts of the tax increase measure published in the 2008-09 Budget,

(v)   what were the Department of the Treasury’s estimates of RTD own-price and cross-price elasticity with other alcohol beverages used to calculate the revenue estimates from different alcohol products included in the Mid-year economic and fiscal outlook 2008-09,

(vi)   what volume growth rates have been assumed by the Department of the Treasury for different alcohol beverages for the financial years included in the Mid-year economic and fiscal outlook 2008-09,

(vii)   what advice was produced by the Department of the Treasury or the Department of Health and Ageing regarding likely substitution effects prior to or following the introduction of the alcopops tax,

(viii)   what evidence has the Government collected regarding reduction in risky or high risk drinking and/or at risk behaviour among:

(a)   all drinkers,

(b)   the following age groups - under 18, 18 to 24, 25 to 40 and over 40,

(c)   men, and

(d)   women, and

(ix)   what evidence has the Government, including the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, collected regarding those alcohol products most likely to be associated with low risk, risky and high risk drinking among different age and gender categories.

Senator Minchin to move on the next day of sitting:

   That there be laid on the table by the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, no later than 10 am on Thursday, 5 February 2009:

(a)   the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s formal report on the National Broadband Network (NBN) proposals to the NBN Panel of Experts; and

(b)   the final report provided to the Government from the NBN Panel of Experts on submissions to the NBN process.

Senator Abetz to move on the next day of sitting:

   That the Senate—

(a)   notes the comments made by the Deputy Prime Minister (Ms Gillard) and reported in the Australian Financial Review on 20 January 2009, regarding the Senate’s 2008 amendments to the Safe Work legislation; and

(b)   condemns the Deputy Prime Minister for seeking to circumvent the Senate on the issue of uniform occupational health and safety laws, rather than meet with non-government senators to discuss their concerns about the Safe Work legislation.

Senator Nash to move on the next day of sitting:

   That the Senate—

(a)   notes the sad passing of Mrs Nancy Bird-Walton who died at the age of 93 on 13 January 2009;

(b)   notes and commends her significant and inspirational achievements as an aviation pioneer in Australia;

(c)   pays tribute to her service to Australian aviation including through the foundation of the Australian Women Pilots’ Association and her longstanding support for the Royal Flying Doctor Service; and

(d)   expresses its sincere condolences and profound sympathy to her family and loved ones.

Senators Siewert and Hanson-Young to move on the next day of sitting:

   That the Senate—

(a)   notes that 2 February was World Wetlands Day, a date that marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention of Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) in Ramsar, Iran, on 2 February 1971;

(b)   welcomes the release on World Wetlands Day of the 2007 Ramsar Snapshot Study noting the significant delay since its completion in December 2007;

(c)   calls on the Government to implement its recommendations, and in particular to establish regular systematic reporting on wetland health and management;

(d)   notes that the National report on the implementation of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands to the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties in Korea, during October 2008, identified that the greatest challenges Australia faces in delivering on our international wetlands commitments are:

(i)   providing adequate volumes of water to Ramsar sites, and

(ii)   securing sufficient human and financial resources to implement the convention consistently and effectively;

(e)   calls on the Government to act immediately to address these challenges, by providing sufficient resources for planning, management, monitoring and enforcement and by ensuring sufficient volumes of water are set aside to maintain wetland health and ecosystem resilience;

(f)   expresses concern at the dire state of wetlands in the Murray-Darling Basin, noting that with up to 90 per cent of the systems original wetlands are already lost and the majority of those remaining are highly stressed, their ability to maintain the health of the river, protect water quality and deliver ecosystem services is severely threatened (Inland Rivers Network, Wetlands for Our Future 2008 report); and

(g)   calls on the Government to act to secure sufficient water within the Murray-Darling system to maintain its health and resilience, to prioritise ecological flows to threatened and degraded wetlands in the basin, and to ensure in particular that the ecological character of the Coorong and Lower Lakes is not changed irretrievably by their flooding with salt water.

Senator Hanson-Young to move on the next day of sitting:

   That the Senate—

(a)   notes:

(i)   the recent decision by the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, to overturn the global gag rule for family planning guidelines that effectively prohibits the use of aid funding for some contraceptives, and for abortion advice and services, and

(ii)   that Australia is now the only country that continues to enforce these harsh restrictions on our aid program, limiting its ability to provide an effective and essential family planning service;

(b)   recognises:

(i)   the essential role mothers play in developing communities, with both maternal and child health considered crucial Millennium Development Goals, and

(ii)   that an estimated 34 000 mothers die in our region each year, due to the lack of maternal health supports available, with more than half of the 29 developing countries not on track to achieve either goal; and

(c)   calls on the Rudd Government to stand up for women’s rights and immediately abolish the family planning guidelines that prevent Australian aid money from being spent on contraception and family planning advice.

Senator Hanson-Young to move on the next day of sitting:

   That the Senate—

(a)   notes:

(i)   the release in January 2009, of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s 2008 Immigration detention report, and

(ii)   this report highlights, among other things, that asylum seekers, including children, continue to be held indefinitely, despite assurances by the Rudd Government that detention is only being used as a last resort, and for the shortest possible time;

(b)   recognises that the lack of available merits and judicial review for people detained in immigration detention has resulted in people being held wrongfully, unlawfully and for a period of years; and

(c)   calls on the Government to translate its ‘new directions’ for Australia’s immigration detention system into policy, practice and legislative change as soon as possible.

Senator Milne to move on the next day of sitting:

   That the following matter be referred to the Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee for inquiry and report by 29 May 2009:

Australia’s climate change response, with particular reference to:

(a)   the adequacy or otherwise of the Government’s greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 5 per cent by 2020 and 60 per cent by 2050 below 2000 levels in avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate, defined as a global temperature rise of more than 2 degrees;

(b)   whether or not, if the global community pursues a 550 ppm target until 2020, there is any prospect of achieving a 450 ppm target, i.e. is an ‘overshoot’ emission trajectory realistic and what are the risks involved;

(c)   whether or not, if the global community pursues a 550 ppm target, the Government’s greenhouse emission reduction targets of 5 per cent by 2020 and 60 per cent by 2050 below 2000 levels constitutes a fair and proportionate contribution to the global abatement task;

(d)   what emission targets would be consistent with achieving a 300 ppm, 350 ppm and a 400 ppm atmospheric concentration target, equitably shared between industrial and developing nations, and between industrialised nations; and

(e)   the debate into global negotiations to date on per capita emission targets and whether or not the Government’s arguments on per capita emissions are consistent with globally understood principles of equity underpinning burden sharing arrangements.

Senator Ludwig to move on the next day of sitting:

   That the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Employment Services Reform) Bill 2008, be now read a second time.

Senator Hanson-Young to move on the next day of sitting:

   That the Senate—

(a)   notes with regret the number of people who have been killed in the recent hostilities in Gaza;

(b)   expresses deep concern regarding the 437 Palestinian children killed; and

(c)   calls on the Government to:

(i)   provide urgent additional funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East in addition to the $5 million already committed, and

(ii)   investigate options for the immediate relocation of injured Palestinian children and their families to receive medical treatment in Australia.