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Wednesday, 11 August 2004
Page: 26165

Senator Ridgeway to move on the next day of sitting:

That the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee be authorised to hold a private meeting otherwise than in accordance with standing order 33(1) during the sitting of the Senate on Friday, 13 August 2004, from 9.30 am, in relation to its inquiry into forestry plantations.

Senator Ridgeway to move on the next day of sitting:

That the time for the presentation of the report of the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee on forestry plantations be extended to 2 September 2004.

Senator Ian Campbell to move on the next day of sitting:

That, on Thursday, 12 August 2004:

(a) the hours of meeting shall be 9.30 am to 6.30 pm and 7.30 pm to adjournment;

(b) if the Senate is sitting at midnight, the sitting of the Senate shall be suspended till 9 am on Friday, 13 August 2004;

(c) consideration of general business and consideration of committee reports, government responses and Auditor-General's reports under standing order 62(1) and (2) shall not be proceeded with;

(d) the routine of business from not later than 4.30 pm shall be government business only;

(e) divisions may take place after 4.30 pm; and

(f) the question for the adjournment of the Senate shall not be proposed till after the Senate has finally considered the bills listed below, including any messages from the House of Representatives:

US Free Trade Agreement Implementation Bill 2004 and a related bill

Anti-terrorism Bill (No. 3) 2004

Marriage Amendment Bill 2004

Telecommunications (Interception) Amendment (Stored Communications) Bill 2004

Surveillance Devices Bill (No. 2) 2004

Trade Practices Legislation Amendment Bill 2004

Family and Community Services and Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment (2004 Budget Measures) Bill 2004

Crimes Legislation Amendment (Telecommunications Offences and Other Measures) Bill (No. 2) 2004

Tax Laws Amendment (Wine Producer Rebate and Other Measures) Bill 2004

Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Prisoner Voting and Other Measures) Bill 2004

Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment) Amend-ment (Employee Involvement and Compliance) Bill 2002.

Senator Ridgeway to move on the next day of sitting:

That the Senate, noting that the Games of the XXVIIIth Olympiad will commence in Athens, Greece on Friday, 13 August 2004:

(a) notes that the Elgin Marbles were removed from Athens during the occupation by the Ottoman Empire;

(b) recognises that the Parthenon is the most important symbol of Greek cultural heritage and according to the declaration of universal human and cultural rights, Greece has a duty to preserve its cultural heritage in its totality, both for its citizens and for the international community;

(c) acknowledges that the Elgin Marbles, or more precisely, the Parthenon Sculptures, are not freestanding works of art but integral architectural features of the Parthenon;

(d) notes that the Parthenon was erected in the 5th century BC to celebrate the victory of Athenian democracy, which encouraged the creation and development of all the arts as well as politics, philosophy, theatre and science as we know them today;

(e) is of the view that it is inappropriate that over half of the Parthenon's celebrated sculptural elements should be exhibited 2 000 miles away from the remaining elements and from the monument for which they were expressly designed and carved;

(f) finds that the request by the Greek community for the reunification of the sculptural elements of the Parthenon in Athens is a rightful and a legitimate request;

(g) is of the view that returning the Elgin Marbles to Greece would be a key move in promoting Europe's common cultural heritage; and

(h) calls on the Government of the United Kingdom to give positive consideration to Greece's request for the return of the Elgin Marbles to their natural site.

Senator Carr to move on the next day of sitting:

That the Senate condemns the Howard Government for its failure in education and research policy, and in particular:

(a) a schools policy that has seen inordinate increases in Commonwealth funding to the wealthiest, high-fee private schools at the expense of public schools and of disadvantaged non-government schools;

(b) the failure to secure a new Australian National Training Authority agreement and to accord priority to vocational education and training in a climate of growing unmet demand for vocational courses and serious skill shortages in traditional trade and technical areas;

(c) higher education policies that have brought an ever-increasing burden of fees and charges, so that fees at Australian public universities are now higher than at any time since 1939 and the highest of all developed countries;

(d) the failure to adopt a coherent national research strategy, undermining innovation and exacerbating the shortage of highly-skilled researchers; and

(e) the failure to lift private investment in research and development.

Senator Stephens to move on the next day of sitting:

That the Senate—

(a) notes:

(i) the reports of many independent observers, including those sent by the African Union, that the so-called Janjaweed militias have carried out numerous massacres, summary executions, rapes, burnings of towns and villages, and forcible depopulations in the Darfur region of western Sudan,

(ii) reports by Human Rights Watch that the Sudanese military regime has armed, supported and supervised the militias, and that Sudanese government forces have directly participated in some of these actions,

(iii) estimates by reputable sources that at least 300 000 people have already been killed or died as a direct or indirect result of this campaign, that more than a million people have been made homeless, that more than 100 000 have been forced to seek refuge in Chad, and that an unknown but large number of women have been raped in the course of these attacks, and

(iv) reports that the militias have destroyed mosques, killed Muslim religious leaders and desecrated Qurans in the course of their attacks;

(b) condemns the military regime in Sudan for instigating a policy of forcible depopulation of areas considered disloyal to Khartoum, which has led to massive social dislocation and deaths of innocent civilians, in particular, the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups in Darfur;

(c) holds the Sudanese regime responsible for the crimes committed by its armed forces and by the militias under its control;

(d) welcomes the decision by the Australian Government to allocate $20 million for relief in Darfur, but calls on the Government to make a significantly greater commitment to aid the people of Darfur through appropriate international agencies;

(e) notes that United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 1556 has imposed an arms embargo on Sudan and authorised the creation of an international protection force for Darfur;

(f) calls on the Australian Government:

(i) in the event that this force does not succeed in preventing further armed attacks on the people of Darfur, to take immediate action at the UN to ensure that the UN force is given a mandate to disarm the militias, secure the withdrawal of Sudanese government forces from the area, protect the people of Darfur and enable all refugees to return to their homes,

(ii) to make a contribution, proportionate with Australia's military capacity, of Australian forces to any peace-keeping force dispatched to Sudan under a UN mandate, and

(iii) to take action at the UN to secure the prosecution for war crimes at the appropriate international tribunal of President Omar Bashir and other officials of the Sudanese military regime responsible for the massacres of civilians in Darfur; and

(g) urges the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Downer) to visit Sudan and gain a first-hand understanding of how Australia can most effectively contribute to the alleviation of this humanitarian crisis.

Senator Allison to move on the next day of sitting:

That the Senate—

(a) acknowledges that violence against women has serious consequences for reproductive outcomes;

(b) notes that:

(i) the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health has found that young women with violent partners are more likely to become pregnant, miscarry, have a stillbirth, premature birth or an abortion than are women who do not have violent partners, and

(ii) the Women's Safety Australia study found that 42 per cent of women who reported physical violence from a partner experienced that violence during pregnancy, with half of these women stating that violence occurred for the first time while they were pregnant; and

(c) calls on the Government to:

(i) provide funding to raise awareness of the links between violence and pregnancy and to train primary health care professionals to routinely assess pregnant women for possible exposure to violence, and

(ii) improve systems of care for pregnant women who are experiencing partner violence.

Senator Stott Despoja to move on the next day of sitting:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) to date, 26 universities have announced that they will increase their higher education contribution scheme (HECS) fees, most of them by the full 25 per cent across all disciplines,

(ii) increasing HECS fees will further deter students from low socio-economic backgrounds,

(iii) all three South Australian universities will increase HECS fees by 25 per cent in 2005, severely affecting student choice in South Australia, and

(iv) by 2008, the Government's policy `Backing Australia's Future: Our Universities' will have shifted more than $1.2 billion of the costs of higher education to students through HECS fee increases and increases in domestic full-fee paying student numbers; and

(b) condemns the Government for under-funding universities for the past 8 years to such an extent that universities are now turning to students to provide a short-term increase in funding.

Senator Stott Despoja to move on the next day of sitting:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that on 19 August 2004, there will be national action by university students who will be protesting against the Government's `Backing Australia's Future: Our Universities' policy and in particular, against higher education contribution scheme (HECS) fee increases and the under-funding of universities;

(b) supports students in their non-violent attempts to seek the repeal of HECS fee increases and increased public finding for education; and

(c) condemns the Government for under-funding universities for the past 8 years, to such an extent that universities are now turning to students to provide a short-term increase in funding.

Senator IAN CAMPBELL (Western Australia—Minister for the Environment and Heritage) (3.36 p.m.)—I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:

That the provisions of paragraphs (5), (6) and (8) of standing order 111 not apply to the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Prisoner Voting and Other Measures) Bill 2004, allowing it to be considered during this period of sittings.

I also table a statement of reasons justifying the need for this bill to be considered during these sittings and seek leave to have the statement incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The statement read as follows—

Purpose of the Bill

The Bill amends the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Electoral Act), the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 (the Referendum Act) and the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Enrolment Integrity and other Measures) Act 2004 (Enrolment Integrity Act) to address the operational problems identified with the amendments made by the Senate during debate on 25 June 2004 of the Enrolment Integrity Act.

The Enrolment Integrity Act provides that a person who was serving a sentence of imprisonment on, or before, the return of the writs for an election and who continues to serve a sentence of imprisonment when the writs for the following election are issued will not be eligible to enrol or to vote for any Senate or House of Representatives election.

There would be insufficient time to complete the process of objecting to the enrolment of prisoners in the above category prior to the close of the rolls in order to remove them from the roll and make them ineligible to vote. As a consequence, all prisoners would be eligible to enrol and vote at an election, regardless of the term of their imprisonment.

The proposed amendments relate to prisoner voting, commencement, sunset and review clauses for the proof of identity provisions and other minor amendments.

The measures will:

amend the Electoral Act to prevent prisoners serving a sentence of three years or longer from enrolling to vote;

amend the Referendum Act to repeal early close of rolls provisions for referendums; and

amend the Enrolment Integrity Act to clarify the commencement of the name and address evidentiary requirements for enrolments and changes to enrolment details, including the review by the Australian Electoral Commission of these requirements, and the cessation of the requirements.

Reasons for Urgency

The Bill requires introduction and passage in the Spring sittings 2004 to allow the measures to be implemented in advance of the next federal election. Failure to implement the provisions in the Bill will mean that all prisoners, regardless of the sentence served will be eligible to enrol and vote.

(Circulated by authority of the Special Minister of State, Senator the Hon Eric Abetz)