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Notice given 28 November 2006

648  Senator Ray: To move—That the Senate—

(a) notes:

(i) the further statement by the Minister for Justice and Customs (Senator Ellison) on 27 November 2006 in response to Senator Ray’s question without notice on 7 November 2006, asking the Minister when he first became aware of a potential breach of 4QA of the Customs regulations in regard to the importation of goods from Iraq without the written permission of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Downer) or his delegate,

(ii) that the Minister is hiding behind a current investigation into the matter by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to avoid answering a process question that goes to how long he has known that goods imported into Australia from Iraq in 2000 may not have complied with the Australian Customs Service approval procedures established to meet Australia’s obligations to enforce United Nations (UN) sanctions against Iraq,

(iii) that the Minister’s position is bogus because, as AFP Commissioner Keelty informed the estimates hearing of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee on 31 October 2006 that no government minister is under investigation in regard to the matter, and

(iv) that this is yet another attempt by the Government to conceal its inaction and incompetence in failing to ensure that Australian companies trading with Iraq fully complied with the requirements of the UN’s Oil-for-Food Programme; and

(b) calls on the Minister for Justice and Customs to state clearly the date he first became aware that Customs regulations may have been breached in regard to the import of goods from Iraq in 2000, between when he was appointed as the Minister for Justice and Customs on 30 January 2001 and the referral of the matter to the AFP from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade through him on 23 February 2006.