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Notice given 2 May 2003

1422  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister—

(1) Did the Prime Minister receive a letter from the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials in early March 2003 urging Australian, British and American leaders to form an international taskforce to protect ancient monuments, archaeological sites and museum collections in the event of a war with Iraq; if so: (a) can a copy of the letter be provided; and (b) what action was taken in response to the letter.

(2) Has Australia complied with the Second Protocol to the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, March 1999.

(3) Are reports that western military personnel were stationed to protect Iraq’s oil resources but not its cultural resources accurate.

(4) Will the Australian Government now work to establish an international taskforce, able to enter Iraq as soon as possible, to prevent further looting of cultural property and assess the potential for salvaging cultural artefacts; if not, why not.