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4 June 2009

772  MR LINDSAY: To ask the Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science—

(1) Is he aware of the ongoing campaign for formal public recognition of the War Like Service (WLS) of t he Australian Training and Support Team East Timor (ATSTEM).

(2) Did the Government direct the Department of Defence to release a DEFGRAM on 26 March 2009 announcing the recognition of WLS for the ATSTEM; if so, who was the responsible Minister or Parliamentary Secretary.

(3) What protocols, processes or legal requirements must be fulfilled to have the WLS of the ATSTEM publicly recognised.

(4) Will he publicly announce recognition of WLS for ATSTEM veterans who served on active service in East Timor; if not, why not.

(5) Does the award of a War Service Pension (WSP) to qualifying persons depend upon the formal public recognition of active WLS.

(6) Is he aware that members of the ATSTEM who have qualified for a WSP, are having their applications denied due to a lack of public recognition of active service in East Timor; if not, why not.

(7) Did the Deputy Chief of Army, at any stage, order ATSTEM members to return their United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) medals; if so, why.

(8) Have ATSTEM members been retrospectively awarded the UNTAET medal; if not, why not.

773  MR PYNE: To ask the Prime Minister—In respect of the Government’s changes to the 457 Visa Program, and its announcement on 15 May 2009 that labour agreements aim to provide a flexible response to the needs of industries experiencing skills shortages: (a) what is the average length of time taken for labour agreements to be approved; (b) how is the process considered to be flexible for those employers who experience skills shortages; and (c) how many 457 visa holders are in South Australia; and of these, how many have indicated they are willing to relocate to remote areas such as Coober Pedy in pursuit of training and employment.

774  MR PYNE: To ask the Prime Minister—In respect of the Government’s changes to the 457 Visa Program, and its announcement on 15 May 2009 that labour agreements aim to provide a flexible response to the needs of industries experiencing skills shortages: (a) have any applications for 457 visas be refused as a result of the changes; if so, how many; (b) why is the scheme not being introduced in 2010; and (c) do transitional arrangements exist to (i) provide employers with time to arrange labour agreements, and (ii) allow 457 visa applications received prior to the changes to be processed in accordance with the requirements under the old program; if not, why not.

775  MR PYNE: To ask the Minister for Education—In respect of the Building the Education Revolution Program: (a) did the Charters Towers School of Distance Education apply for funding under the program; if so, what are the details; (b) did her department advise the school that it was eligible for funding under the program; if so, what are the details; and (c) was an application received; if so, was it approved; if so, was the approval later rescinded.

776  MR MORRISON: To ask the Minister for Housing—In respect of her media release of 2 June 2009 relating to the numbers of Australians taking-up the First Home Owners Grant Boost—

(1) For each month between 1 October 2008 and 30 April 2009, how many gran ts were given for (a) new construction ($21,000), and (b) existing homes ($14,000).

(2) Can she indicate, for each month between 1 October 2008 and 30 April 2009 and in percentage terms, what proportion of grants delivered by each State and Territory government comprised the (a) $21,000 for newly constructed housing, and (b) $14,000 for sales of existing housing; if not, why not.

777  MR TRUSS: To ask the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government—On what date did the regional offices of his department close in (a) Brisbane, (b) Perth (c) Adelaide, and (d) Melbourne.