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Notice given 15 November 2006

2768  Senator Crossin: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations—With reference to the Outback Stores Initiative announced by the Government on 14 August 2006:

(1) (a) Since the announcement was made, how many community stores have come under this program; (b) can a list be provided of those stores; and (c) given that the program is voluntary are all those stores, now under the program, voluntary participants.

(2) What is the criteria by which stores are judged to be eligible to join the program.


 (3) How much of the $48 million allocated to the program over 4 years has: (a) been disbursed; (b) to whom; and (c) under which broader funding program; (for example, a health program or under Indigenous Business Australia).

(4) (a) Can a breakdown be provided of the funding that has been spent on the program to date (for example, on new stores, supplies, transport or other requirements); and (b) is there a breakdown for the proposed use of the $48 million over the 4 years.

(5) (a) How often has the Board of Outback Stores met; and (b) where have these meetings been held.

(6) (a) How many community stores have been visited by board members, or their delegates; and (b) can a list of the visits be provided.

(7) Given that the Minister said that the expertise of both Woolworths and Coles will be available to offer invaluable support and technical assistance without commercial interest in the stores, if one of these major food chains is supplying community stores, who bears the loss if for any reason a store is subsequently unable to pay for those supplies.

(8) (a) Where do the funds come from to meet any board expenses; (b) who provides secretariat support to the board; and (c) of what does that support comprise.

(9) In what way do Woolworths and Coles provide support and technical assistance to the stores.

(10) Given that one of the reasons given for the need for this program is concerns over poor financial management in community stores, how many stores, that are now coming under the program, had their management replaced or changed.

(11) (a) Is the community store at Beswick Community (Wugularr) in the Northern Territory one of those in this program; and (b) can the Minister confirm or deny that this store has made a very substantial loss which the community are now being asked to repay.