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Notice given 21 February 2003

1172  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Defence—

(1) Has the date for public comment on the draft Portsea Defence Land Community Master Plan been extended to 28 February 2003, as requested.

(2) Will the Government accept the advice of the consultants who prepared the draft master plan that private residential land-use be excluded and that the site remain in public ownership; if not, why not.

(3) Why have real estate agents been appointed to develop a marketing and sales program for the land ahead of finalisation of the master plan.

(4) Can a copy of the brief provided to Colliers International be made available; if not, why not.

(5) What is the current status of discussions with the Victorian State Government over the clean-up of the site.

(6) By what process, and on what basis, was permission given to Portsea landowner, Mr Lindsay Fox, to land his helicopter in the Norris Barracks area at Point Nepean throughout the summer.

(7) What are the terms of this arrangement.

(8) Was local government consulted over the decision; if not, why not.

(9) Were local residents consulted over the decision; if not, why not.

1173  Senator Bartlett: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs—

(1) With reference to the view expressed by the Minister recently that Saddam Hussein’s behaviour is ‘intolerable’: (a) is it not the case that when, in the 1980s, Saddam Hussein’s regime was gassing Kurds and Iranians, the West increased its aid and support to Iraq; and (b) if Saddam Hussein’s behaviour is intolerable now, why was it not intolerable then.

(2) Is it not the case that Saddam Hussein was assisted by the United States of America (US) with intelligence, satellite imagery, arms and weapons of mass destruction at that time.

(3) Is it not the case that the US declared itself to be ‘neutral’ in the war between Iraq and Iran, while covertly assisting Iraq in that war.

(4) (a) Does the Government agree with US Senator John McCain, who has stated that it was ‘foolish’ for people to protest on behalf of the Iraqi people, because the Iraqis live under Saddam Hussein ‘and they will be far, far better off when they are liberated from his brutal, incredibly oppressive rule’; and (b) what advice has the US Government provided about the plan to liberate Iraq.

(5) Given that France, Germany and other members of the Security Council have questioned the urgent rationale for war now, saying that there is a chance that continued inspections under military pressure might accomplish the disarmament of Iraq peacefully: Does the Government agree; if not, why not.

(6) With the Minister urging that there be a United Nations (UN) resolution authorising an attack on Iraq, what are the implications for Australia’s relations with France, Germany, Russia and China now that these countries have argued for continued inspections.

(7) (a) Is the Government aware that foreign ministers for 22 Arab nations, meeting in Cairo recently, called on all Arab countries to ‘refrain from offering any kind of assistance or facilities for any military action that leads to the threat of Iraq’s security, safety and territorial integrity’; and (b) what are the implications of this statement in the event of an attack on Iraq.

(8) Given that, in his latest report, the Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection, Dr Blix, indicated that weapons inspectors were making noteworthy progress in forcing Iraq to make concessions on everything from allied surveillance flights to giving inspectors greater access to Iraqi weapons scientists, and also said Iraq was still not cooperating like a state that truly wanted to disarm, but there had been progress: Why does the Government claim that Saddam Hussein is playing a ‘cat and mouse’ game and that there has been no progress on disarmament.

(9) Given that US Secretary of State, Mr Powell, recently promised new intelligence on connections between Iraq and Al Qaeda, but then did not publicly provide it: Has that information been provided to the Australian Government; if so, when will it be released publicly.

(10) Given that Dr Blix pointed out recently, that the satellite images Mr Powell brought before the Council were shot 2 weeks apart and did not necessarily show Iraqi deception: What are the implications of this advice for Australia’s position.

(11) What response has the Minister made to the argument of the French Foreign Minister, Mr de Villepin, that no one has convincingly argued that immediate war would be shorter and more effective in disarming Iraq than continued UN weapons inspections under the threat of force.

(12) What response has the Minister made to French intelligence agencies finding that there was no support for the US claim of a strong connection between Baghdad and Osama bin Laden’s terrorism network.

(13) What advice has been sought from the British Prime Minister, Mr Blair, with regard to revelations that the United Kingdom’s latest intelligence white paper was found to have been plagiarized from Internet sources.

(14) Given that recent reports from Israel, suggest that the date of attack depends only on logistical considerations, when the deployment of US troops is complete, and that the war will begin at the end of February 2003 or the beginning of March 2003: Is this the Government’s understanding of the situation.

(15)  Given that Israeli Major-General Gilad, Coordinator of Government Activities in the West Bank and Gaza, is quoted as saying on Saturday, 15 February 2003, that a US-led attack on Iraq would remove the Iraqi threat, and would be an example for ‘the removal of other dictators closer to us who use violence and terror’: What is the Government’s understanding of this statement.

1174  Senator Bartlett: To ask the Minister for Defence—

(1) (a) What legal advice does the Government have to suggest that the threat and/or use of force against Iraq, without United Nations (UN) Security Council authorisation, would not constitute a crime of aggression and a breach of international law; and (b) can a copy of that advice be provided.

(2) With reference to the statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in September 2002 that, ‘We have no intention, as Australians, of playing any part in anything which would be illegal in breach of the law … Australia has no intention of doing anything which is in breach of international law’: How does the Government explain the change in approach leading to the Prime Minister’s comments on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s 7.30 Report , on 23 January 2003, that, ‘Until I know and the Government knows what has come out of the UN Security Council position - I mean you could have a situation where you have a resolution carried 13-2, and one of the two is a permanent member and the permanent member says “I am going to veto the resolution”. Now in those circumstances we would have to make a decision, the Americans would have to make a decision, and potentially others. And I know there are other countries that would in those circumstances regard such a veto as capricious and regard a vote of 13-2 in favour of action as being Security Council endorsement and they wouldn’t allow that capricious veto to hold them back’.

(3) Why will the Government proceed to take action against Iraq if one or more UN Security Council members vetoes action, as has been suggested by the Prime Minister.

(4) What criteria will the Government use to determine if a UN Security Council veto on Iraq is ‘capricious’.

(5) Given that the United States of America (US) is the only country to have vetoed a UN Security Council resolution calling on states to obey international law: In the Government’s view, was this capricious; if not, why not.

(6) Does the Government intend to push for a change to the UN Security Council’s processes to take away the right of the five permanent members of the council to veto resolutions; if so, what steps has it taken to do so.

(7) Does the Government acknowledge that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons during the Gulf War in 1991 but chose not to use them.

(8) Has the US Administration explained why Saddam Hussein would be more inclined to use chemical and biological weapons now than in 1991.

(9) Does the Government agree with the proposition that Saddam Hussein would be more likely to use chemical and biological weapons if his personal survival was at stake and he had nothing left to lose; if so, what role would Australia’s dispatching of troops play in threatening Saddam Hussein’s survival.

(10) Has the Government been provided with an analysis by the US Administration of the current strength of Iraq’s armed forces and the state of Iraq’s industry and equipment, bearing in mind the effect of UN sanctions, no-fly zones in the north since 1991 and the south since 1993, political isolation and damage to infrastructure, including power and water reticulation systems; if so, can a copy of this analysis be provided.

(11) (a) What evidence has been provided to the Government by the US Administration of Iraq’s involvement in terrorist acts such as those on the World Trade Centre in New York and in Bali; and (b) can a copy of this evidence be provided.

(12) With reference to the statement by US Administration official, Mr Armitage, that he is in no doubt that Iraq would pass weapons of mass destruction on to terrorists: What evidence has the US administration provided to the Government of this assertion.

(13) (a) Can the Government explain why the US and the United Kingdom (UK) continued to supply Iraq with weapons of mass destruction for 18 months after Saddam Hussein’s attack, on 17 March 1988, against the Kurdish city of Halabja in which 5 000 citizens were killed by deadly chemical weapons; and (b) has the Government raised this question with the US Administration; if not, why not.

(14) Has the US Administration indicated why it continued to treat Saddam Hussein as an ally and trading partner long after the 1988 attack on Halabja.

(15) Has the US Government advised why, in 1989, President George H Bush authorised new loans to Saddam Hussein in order to achieve the goal of increasing US exports and putting the US in a better position to deal with Iraq regarding its human rights record.

(16) Has the US Administration advised why Mr Kelly, US Assistant Secretary of State, flew to Baghdad in February 1989 - 11 months after the attack on Halabja - to tell Saddam Hussein that ‘you are a source for moderation in the region, and the United States wants to broaden her relationship with Iraq’.

(17) With reference to the US Senate Banking Committee reports which indicate that the ‘United States provided the government of Iraq with “dual use” licensed materials which assisted in the development of Iraqi chemical, biological and missile-system programs’ and that this assistance included ‘chemical warfare agent precursors; chemical warfare-agent production facility plans and technical drawings; chemical warfare-filling equipment; biological warfare related materials; missile fabrication equipment and missile system guidance equipment’: Is the Government aware that this assistance was provided up until December 1989, 20 months after the attack on Halabja.

(18) Is the Government aware that private American suppliers provided Iraq with biological materials, including Bacillus Anthracis, Clostridium, Botulinum, Histoplasma Capsulatam, Brucella Melitensis and other toxic agents, and that, according to a US Senate committee report, ‘these biological materials were not attenuated or weakened and were capable of reproduction’.

(19) Is the Government aware of a US Senate committee report which stated in relation to these biological materials that, ‘these microorganisms exported by the United States were identical to those the United Nations inspectors found and removed from the Iraqi biological warfare program’.

(20) Has the Government sighted Iraq’s 12 000 page declaration of its weapons program in the form in which it was presented; if not, why not.

(21) Can the Government confirm that around 150 European, US and Japanese companies provided the components and know-how needed by Saddam Hussein to build atomic bombs, chemical and biological weapons.

(22) Can a list of the countries involved in supplying those weapons of mass destruction to Iraq be provided.

(23) (a) Can the Government confirm that an International Institute of Strategic Studies report found that Saddam Hussein is much less dangerous now than in the past when he was backed by the West; and (b) does the Government agree with the report; if not, why not.

(24) Why is it that, when Iraq released its 12 000 page inventory of arms programs, the US obtained agreement from the President of the Security Council that the document be handed over to the US to analyse and copy.

(25) (a) Is it the case that the US excised the 9-page table of contents, chapters on procurements in Iraq’s nuclear program and relations with companies, representatives and individuals for its chemical weapons program from Iraq’s inventory of arms programs before the distribution of the inventory to Russia, China, France and Great Britain; (b) if the Government is unable to provide an answer to (a), has it sought clarification from the US Administration since those reports in December 2002; if not, why not; (c) why is it that the 10 non-permanent members of the UN Security Council were given a scaled down, 3 000 page document instead of the full inventory; and (d) given that former UN weapons inspector, Mr Albright, said in December 2002, as reported in the Guardian , that there would be widespread embarrassment if the extent to which British, French, German and other Western companies had supplied Iraq’s weapons build-up was known, what steps has the Government taken to establish whether or not this is the case.

(26) With reference to the claim made by historian Gabriel Kolko in 2002 that, ‘the United States supplied Iraq with intelligence throughout the war with Iran and provided it with more than $US5 billion in food credits, technology and industrial products, most coming after it began to use mustard, cyanide and nerve gases against both Iranians and dissident Iraqi Kurds’: can the Government confirm that this is the case.

(27) (a) Can the Government confirm that Iraq’s invasion of Iran in the 1980s was actively supported by the US with intelligence and weaponry; and (b) if this is the case, what explanation has been offered to Australia by the US Administration about the need to now take action against Iraq for its attack on Iran.

(28) (a) Is it the case that Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Iran was not raised by the US with the UN or with Saddam Hussein at the time; and (b) what explanation does the US offer for this lack of action.

(29) Has the Government been informed by the US as to why Iraq has been singled out for attack when, for instance, Egypt fought six wars between 1948 and 1973 and played a key role in starting four of them, and Israel initiated wars on three occasions and has conducted innumerable air strikes and commando raids against its various Arab adversaries.

(30) In the Government’s judgment, how does Iraq now rate as a brutal regime compared with, for instance, that of Indonesia’s General Suharto.

(31) How, in the Government’s judgment, do Iraq’s attacks on Iran and Halabj a compare in terms of human rights abuses with Indonesia’s occupation of East Timor, South Africa’s occupation of Namibia, Turkey’s occupation of northern Cyprus or Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

(32) Given the fact that Mr Richard Butler withdrew weapons inspectors from Iraq on the advice of the US Administration just prior to the attack on Iraq by the US and the UK on 16 to 19 December 1998, why did the Prime Minister claim in the Australian on 1 January 2003 that ‘Hussein effectively expelled weapons inspectors during 1998’.

(33) (a) Can the Government advise which states have assisted Israel to develop nuclear weapons; and (b) does the Government regard these states as being responsible for proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

(34) (a) Can the Government advise which states have assisted North Korea in building its nuclear stockpile; and (b) does the Government regard these states as being responsible for proliferation of weapons of mass destruction?

(35) Has the Government considered the implications under international law of Australia’s threat to use force in the form of dispatching troops prior to authorisation by the UN Security Council of action against Iraq; if so, what are those implications.

(36) Given that Article 51 of the UN Charter requires very strong evidence that specific, grave and imminent threats are present before pre-emptive action is taken: (a) Has the Government been provided with evidence from the US Administration to this effect; and (b) can a copy of this evidence be provided.

(37) What led the Prime Minister to say recently ‘if the United Nations Security Council doesn’t rise to its responsibilities on this occasion it will badly weaken its credibility’.

(38) What led to the Minister for Foreign Affairs saying recently that the UN Security Council will ‘look meaningless and weak, completely ineffectual’.

(39) (a) Does the Government agree with remarks made by Mr Woolcott, former Australian Ambassador to the UN, in early February 2003 that, ‘for 40 years the Security Council was paralysed by the Cold War and by repeated Soviet and American vetoes. But it survived, and whatever position it takes this month, it will survive the present crisis. It is simply an overstatement to suggest that if it does not come in behind the Anglo-American pressure it will become irrelevant’; if not, why not.

(40) In the Government’s assessment, to what extent has Israel’s consistent non-compliance with UN Security Council resolutions calling for its withdrawal from occupied territories weakened the UN Security Council’s credibility.

(41) What difference does it make, in terms of the Security Council’s credibility, that Israel is a democracy and that Iraq is not.

(42) Is the Government aware that Israel would not permit the UN to conduct inspections of its research institute at Nes Ziona near Tel Aviv, which produces chemical and biological weapons and holds a stockpile of chemical agents.

(43) Is the Government considering retrospective amendments to international law to legitimise threatening or using force against Iraq.

(44) What, in the Government’s assessment, would be the implications of such changes for Pakistan, India, North Korea and South Korea.

(45) Does the Government agree with claims by President Bush that Iraqi actions amount to a threat of nuclear blackmail; if so, why.

(46) With reference to the Prime Minister’s recent statement that he believes that Iraq’s ‘aspiration to develop a nuclear capacity’ might be a sufficient reason for Australia to join in pre-emptive action, claiming ‘there is already a mountain of evidence in the public domain’: Can a copy of that evidence be tabled.

(47) Can the Government confirm that the US vetoed 22 draft UN Security Council resolutions on Palestine and seven relating to Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in the 1980s.

(48) Would these vetoes be regarded as capricious in the Government’s criteria.

(49) (a) What advice has the Government received from the US Administration about the suggestion that Iraqi dissidents have promised to cancel all existing oil contracts awarded to firms that do not assist the US to remove Saddam Hussein from power; and (b) was this taken into account in the decision to dispatch Australian troops to Iraq.

(50) Does the Government agree with the statement made by Mr Woolcott, that, ‘The fundamental role of the [UN] Security Council is to preserve the peace, not to authorise war’.

(51) Given that Mr Woolcott also said, ‘War is not, in fact, being “forced” on the US, as Bush said in his State of the Union address. The truth is that an unnecessary war is being forced on Iraq’: Does the Government agree; if not, why not.

(52) Given that Mr Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector says in his book, War on Iraq , that Iraq cannot be given a ‘clean bill of health’ in terms of weapons of mass destruction, but says that in 1998 nuclear infrastructure and facilities had been 100 per cent eliminated; and that scientists there still have the knowledge to reconstruct but this would be a very gradual process and not possible while weapons inspectors are there, for example, the centrifuges needed to enrich uranium are readily detectable: What evidence has the US Administration provided the Government about Iraq’s access to nuclear weapons.

(53) Given that, according to Mr Ritter’s book, Iraq produced three nerve agents in the past: Sarin, Tabun and VX at the Mathanna State chemical factory: Is the Government aware that this factory was bombed during the Gulf War and then weapons inspectors completed the task of eliminating the facility.

(54) Is the Government aware that Sarin and Tabun have a shelf life of 5 years and VX agent would also have degraded by now; if so, what evidence has the US Administration provided the Government about the existence of these weapons in Iraq.