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Notice given 23 February 2007

3023  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs—

(1) Is the Minister aware of the simultaneous press-conferences held by the Advisory Board of the Nobel Prize winning Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on 17 January 2007, in which the hands of the iconic Doomsday Clock were moved forward from 7 minutes to midnight to 5 minutes to midnight.

(2) What significance does the Minister attribute to the fact that the decision to move the hands of the Doomsday Clock were taken by a board of advisors comprised of 18 Nobel Prize winning physicists, environmentalists and arms control experts.

(3) (a) Does the Government agree with other authorities, notably, former United Nations Secretary General, Mr Kofi Annan, the World Summit of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates held in Rome on 17 November to 19 November 2006, former United States (US) Secretaries of State, Henry Kissinger and George Schultz, former US Secretary of Defence, William Perry, former US senator, Sam Nunn, and former President of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Mikhail Gorbachev, about the increasing urgency of measures to promote nuclear disarmament as well as non-proliferation; and (b) what is the reaction of the Minister to recent statements and articles by those figures.

(4) Will the Minister take steps, as suggested by the Advisory Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists , as well as Mr Annan, Mr Kissinger, Mr Schultz and Mr Perry, to raise the priority of both nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and climate change in foreign policy.

(5) What new and additional steps will the Government take to adopt the advice of the Bulletin’s advisors and other eminent figures and to make a balanced approach to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation the centrepiece of foreign policy.


 (6) (a) How will the recent statements on the urgency and high priority of nuclear disarmament by so many prominent figures affect the Government’s approach to the meeting of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Preparatory Committee (Prepcom) to be held in Vienna from 30 April to 11 May 2007; and (b) specifically, what new and additional steps will the Government take at the upcoming NPT Prepcom to adequately reflect and respond to the concern expressed by so many eminent people.

(7) Will the Government take urgent steps, especially at the NPT Prepcom, to promote:

(a) the outlawing of nuclear tests by any nation and not only Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea;

(b) the universal signature and ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, especially by the US and the People’s Republic of China;

(c) the continued reduction of strategic and other nuclear weapons stockpiles by the established nuclear powers and, particularly by the US and the Russian Federation below the numbers specified by the Moscow Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions;

(d) negative security assurances to non-nuclear armed nations by nuclear weapons states and others with nuclear weapons;

(e) an immediate reduction in nuclear weapons operating status by the US and the Russian Federation, and by India and Pakistan such that a catastrophic accidental use of nuclear weapons or their use by malfunction or miscalculation is no longer possible;

(f) the removal of nuclear weapons use from national security doctrines, and the revision of nuclear postures to render their use highly improbable; and

(g) other measures as specified in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution, ‘Renewed determination towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons’.

(8) Will the Government support other worthy measures in the UNGA such as: (a) the New Agenda resolution; (b) the Non-Aligned Movement resolution; and (c) the resolution, ‘Reducing Nuclear Danger’, sponsored by India.

(9) Does the Government intend to modify, accelerate, give greater priority to, or change in any other way to raise the priority of the abolition of nuclear weapons in the context of the NPT Prepcom, the 2010 NPT Review Conference and the alarming statements by so many authoritative figures.

(10) (a) What will the Government do to promote the representation of non-government organisations (NGOs) at the upcoming NPT Prepcom, in line with the highly positive statements toward NGO roles in the resolution, ‘Renewed determination towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons’; and (b) specifically, will the Government make a place for an NGO on its delegation.


 3024  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs—With reference to the United States (US) of America agreement to supply uranium to India:

(1) What is the status and timeframe for decision-making by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to exempt India from laws that prohibit the sale of nuclear technology and uranium to countries not party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

(2) In regard to the reported offer by the Government of India to open some of its nuclear facilities for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitoring, is it the case that India proposes to exclude from IAEA monitoring: (a) reactors that make plutonium for nuclear weapons; (b) nine power reactors including a plutonium breeder reactor; (c) India’s three reprocessing plants; and (d) the 11.5 tons of reactor grade plutonium produced in the spent fuel of India’s power reactors.

(3) Which if any of the above exclusions will or has the Australian Government agreed to.

(4) Does the Australian Government agree with the report of the International Panel on Fissile Materials at indicating that these facilities could be used to add significantly to India’s stock of nuclear weapons; if not, why not.

(5) Can the Australian Government confirm that: (a) India has about 500 kg of weapons grade plutonium which would enable it to produce 100 nuclear warheads; (b) India’s prototype fast breeder reactor: (i) is scheduled to start operating in 2010, (ii) will be fuelled with reactor grade plutonium, and (iii) will produce weapons grade plutonium, increasing by fourfold, India’s current weapons grade plutonium production; and (c) by substituting imports of uranium for domestic uranium and expanding existing uranium recycling efforts, India would be capable of producing up to 200 kg a year of weapons grade plutonium in those reactors proposed to be excluded from IAEA monitoring.

(6) What does the Australian Government consider is the impact of the US-India uranium supply agreement on: (a) the effectiveness of the NPT; (b) relations between India and Pakistan in regard to nuclear weapons capability and potential use; and (c) the effectiveness of the United Nations Security Council’s Resolution 1172, calling on India and Pakistan to ‘immediately stop their nuclear weapon development programmes …and any further production of fissile material for nuclear weapons’.

(7) How will Australia vote when approval is sought from the NSG of the proposed arrangements under the US-India uranium agreement.

(8) Will the Australian Government allow Australian-sourced uranium to be supplied to India as part of this proposed agreement.

3025  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister—With reference to the $10 billion in funding for the National Plan for Water Security:

(1) What are the timelines for returning water to the Murray and Darling Rivers.

(2) Is it the intention of the plan to return at least 1 500 billion litres to the Murray River; if not, what is the target.


 (3) In determining water entitlements, will reductions in the Murray River’s flow predicted to be 3 300 billion litres within the next 50 years as a result of climate change, be taken in into account; if not, why not.

(4) Is it the case that under the plan, the states will still manage river catchments, while the Commonwealth will control the river’s water; if so, how will the responsibility for protecting and renewing river health be determined.

(5) What changes, if any, are anticipated with respect to the controlled release of water which currently reverses natural flows, for example, is it proposed that water will be released to mimic natural floods.

(6) (a) Under the plan, what is the process for determining whether saved water is returned to the river for environmental flows or sold to irrigators; and (b) will the final decision be made by the Federal Government or state governments.

(7) Will non-government independent environment organisations be given legal standing to question decisions to sell, withhold or give away environmental water; if not, why not.

(8) In regard to the 90 kilometre open channel proposed to connect the Murray and Goulburn Rivers, has the Prime Minister considered the report commissioned by the Victorian Government in 2006 which found that this scheme was the worst and most expensive option available; if so, what is the rationale behind the proposal.

(9) With regards to the proposal for the Commonwealth to fund 80 per cent of the cost of fixing irrigation channels, does this mean that 80 per cent of the water savings will be returned to the river; if not: (a) what is the anticipated percentage; and (b) on what basis was it determined.

(10) What monitoring programs will be put in place to ensure targets and agreements are met.

3026  Senator Murray: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs—With reference to the article by R.W. Johnson in the London Sunday Times of 7 January 2007, ‘Zimbabwe, the land of dying children’:

(1) Can the Minister confirm that the broad detail of this article is accurate.

(2) Does the Minister agree with the author that ‘it is a genocide perhaps 10 times greater than Darfur’s and more than twice as large as Rwanda’s’.

(3) Can details be provided of all actions the Government is taking with respect to this human tragedy.

3027  Senator Murray: To ask the Minister representing the Special Minister of State—

(1) With reference to sub section 93(1)(b)(ii) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 , how many British subjects coded as being eligible to vote on 25 January 1984 still remain on the Electoral Roll as non-Australian citizens.

(2) Given the current interest in and debate concerning Australian values and an obligation and commitment to Australia, is the Government of the view that voting in federal elections should only be available to citizens of Australia.


 (3) Since some non-citizens can vote in elections but not others; since at the local level voting in some jurisdictions is also given to property owners, and in others to non-citizen residents; and, in light of trends in other democracies to widen the franchise to permanent residents or other categories: does the Federal Government consider it opportune to review the varied rights to vote in the three tiers of government in Australia.