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Notice given 19 September 2001

3900  Senator Bartlett: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Heritage—

(1) How many applications have been received by the Minister under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act for seismic testing in Australian waters.

(2) What are the details of applicants and the purposes of the seismic activities.

(3) What level of assessment is required for each application.

(4) How many, and which, applications have been approved under the Act.

(5) How many applications have been refused.

(6) How many approvals have been reconsidered.

(7) Has the Minister sought any independent advice from experts in marine acoustics in relation to seismic testing in marine waters and assessment of seismic testing applications.

(8) Can copies of any independent advice received in relation to seismic testing be provided.

(9) When reconsideration of a decision is sought, is further independent advice sought; if so, can details be provided.

(10) Are submissions weighted in different ways.

(11) What weight is given to different forms of submissions.

(12) Did the Minister seek expert advice as part of his reconsideration of the decision in relation to the Strike Oil seismic survey in blue whale habitat off Victoria.

(13) What was the source of the advice and the nature of the advice, and what were the recommendations made by all experts.

(14) If no expert evidence was sought, why not.

(15) Was there evidence made available to the Minister that this activity would take place in the blue whale feeding season.

(16) What was the evidence, the source and any recommendations made in relation to the evidence.

(17) How is this decision seen to be in concert with the provisions to protect endangered species under the Act.

(18) Is it correct that Environment Australia is negotiating guidelines for interaction with seismic vessels.

(19) Are these guidelines to be legally binding.

(20) When will these guidelines be completed.

(21) How will the guidelines ensure no long-term impacts on cetaceans.

(22) Will these guidelines consider the cumulative acoustic impacts on cetaceans.

(23) Will the Government make a commitment to use data collected to review and update the guidelines through an open and independent process.