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Notice given 5 September 2006

2470  Senator Evans: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Heritage—With reference to the Minister’s announcement of 29 August 2006 that the Government is to invest $3.2 million to protect the orange-bellied parrot:

(1) Can the Minister confirm that the $3.2 million is, as the Minister claims, ‘the largest Australian Government investment in a threatened species’.

(2) For each of the financial years 1996-97, 1997-98, 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2000-01, 2001-02, 2002-03, 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2005-06 to date, can a list be provided of all other grants of the above kind, including: (a) the name of the species; (b) the date the grant was announced; (c) the purpose of the grant; and (d) the amount of the grant.

(3) Can a list be provided, in tabular form, comprising the name of the species, the date of any grant(s), the purpose of any grant(s) and the amount of any grant(s), of all specific grants to: (a) the 16 animal species listed as critically endangered under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 ; (b) the 129 animal species listed as endangered under the Act; and (c) the 192 species listed as vulnerable under the Act.


 2472  Senator Carr: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs—For each of the financial years 2004-05 and 2005-06, can details be provided on the Community Housing and Infrastructure Program (CHIP), including: (a) each house that has been demolished; (b) each house that has been built; (c) each house that has been upgraded; (d) each house that has been purchased; (e) how much was paid for each house built or purchased; (f) under which element of CHIP the building, upgrade or purchase was undertaken; (g) the legal owner of each house and the organisation that manages it; and (h) the list of communities currently identified as priorities for receiving assistance under CHIP.

2473  Senator Milne: To ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister—

(1) What is the status of the Government’s evaluation of Australian participation in the next stage of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project.

(2) Did the Government, for example, set up a joint departmental committee; if not, why not.

(3) With reference to the Government’s involvement in an international workshop, ‘Towards an Australian involvement in ITER’, scheduled for October 11 to 13 2006, in Sydney: (a) who will comprise the Government delegation that will attend the workshop; and (b) what are the names of the delegates.

2474  Senator Sherry: To ask the Minister for Finance and Administration—With reference to a letter from Senator Coonan to the Minister on 22 June 2004 which stated ‘that the superannuation arrangements within your portfolio be reviewed with a view to ensuring consistency with the Government’s policy to recognise interdependent relationships for death benefits’:

(1) What steps has the Minister taken to comply with this request.

(2) When will the Minister introduce amendments to the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme (CSS) and Public Sector Superannuation Scheme funds to allow reversionary death benefits to be available to partners in interdependent relationships, in accordance with the above letter.

(3) What were the costs to the CSS of the inclusion of reversionary benefits for those in interdependent relationships, which the department has completed.

(4) What further matters, if any, need to be resolved before these amendments can be introduced into the Senate.

2475  Senator Bishop: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence—

(1) Did the Minister on 22 April 2006 explain the death of Private Kovco as being the result of his pistol discharging while he was ‘maintaining’ it; if so, was that advice provided by the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF), another member of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in Australia or by a member of his personal staff.

(2) Did the Minister or any member of his personal or office staff speak to, or otherwise communicate with, ADF personnel in Baghdad in the days following Private Kovco’s death concerning the circumstances of the death; if so: (a) who conducted the conversation(s); (b) when; and (c) with whom.


 (3) In the days following the Minister’s statement about the cause of Private Kovco’s death, on how many occasions did the Minister speak to the CDF, other senior ADF personnel or Defence officials concerning the death, and was any alternative advice conveyed to the Minister about the cause of death.

(4) Did the Minister personally speak to the CDF and to the Chief of Army, and at any time did either of them advise the Minister not to venture opinions as to the cause of death.

(5) Did the Prime Minister or anyone on the Prime Minister’s staff also speak directly to the Minister advising him against expressing any further opinions as to the cause of death.

(6) Why did the Minister alter his view of the cause of death on 27 April 2006, and did he say that it appeared that Private Kovco had not been handling his weapon after all, or that he had knocked it causing it to fire; if so, who provided the Minister with that advice.

(7) Did the Minister cancel a planned trip to the United States of America (US) leaving on or about 27 April 2006; if so: (a) who was the Minister intending to meet and for what purpose; and (b) did the Minister consider that to be a very important commitment.

(8) Given the importance of that commitment, did the Minister or his staff inquire of the ADF or the department about the timing of the repatriation of Private Kovco’s body, and the means of transport; if so: (a) was a request made for the body to be repatriated by the quickest means possible; and (b) who made that request.

(9) Did the Minister cancel his trip to the US so he could be present in Australia for both the repatriation of the body and the funeral.

(10) At any stage was the Minister or anyone in his office advised of the protocols and procedures applying to the investigation of ADF deaths overseas, including estimated time needed to properly conduct investigations by both military and civilian authorities; if so, who provided the advice and when.

(11) To what extent was the demand for the immediate repatriation of Private Kovco’s body to suit the Minister’s timetable the cause for all the breaches of investigation protocols, as referred to in detailed evidence given to the current inquiry.