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Notice given 30 April 2003

*1417  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Defence—

(1) Can the Minister confirm the report in the Washington Post of 25 April 2003 that, nearly 3 weeks after United States of America (US) forces reached Iraq’s most important nuclear facility, the Bush Administration has yet to begin an assessment of whether tons of radioactive material there remain intact.

(2) Is the Minister aware that, before the war began, the vast Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Centre held 3 896 pounds of partially-enriched uranium, more than 94 tons of natural uranium and smaller quantities of caesium, cobalt and strontium, according to reports compiled through the 1990s by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

(3) Is the Minister aware that this material would be immensely valuable on the international black market, the uranium being in a form suitable for further enrichment to ‘weapons grade’, the core of a nuclear device.

(4) Is the Minister aware that these materials have been sought by terrorists seeking to build a so-called dirty bomb, which uses conventional explosives to scatter dangerous radioactive particles.

(5) Is it the case that the US Administration has no idea whether any of Tuwaitha’s potentially deadly contents have been stolen, because it has not dispatched investigators to appraise the site.

(6) Is the Minister aware that, according to officials at the Pentagon and the US Central Command, Iraq’s Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) 120 acre Tuwaitha facility, 11 miles south of Baghdad, lay unguarded for at least 4 days and that there is evidence that looters made their way through buildings at the facility.

(7) (a) What is the Minister’s understanding of the role that the US Defense Department, other government agencies or US nuclear experts will have in assessing the Tuwaitha facility; and (b) when is it expected that this assessment will take place.

(8) Would such an inspection and assessment of any nuclear material that might be missing, including the breaking of tamper-proof seals on more than 409 barrels of radioactive material, be done in conjunction with the IAEA, as is required under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

(9) Is the site now safeguarded by the US Administration’s Central Command’s Sensitive Site Exploitation Planning Team, as reported; if so, are Australian troops involved.

(10) Is the Government concerned at the comments by Mr Corey Hinderstein, Deputy Director of the Institute for Science and International Security, when told US nuclear experts had not yet been to Tuwaitha: ‘I would have hoped that they would try to assess as quickly as possible whether the site had been breached. If there is radiological material on the loose in Iraq, with the chance that it may be transferred across borders, it would be extremely important to know that [in order] to prevent it from crossing a border or being transferred to a terrorist or another state’.

(11) Given the concerns previously expressed by the Prime Minister about Iraq providing chemical, biological or nuclear material to terrorists, what representations has the Government made to the US Administration about this situation.

*1418  Senator Ludwig: To ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General—With reference to the answer to question no. 99 taken on notice by the Office of Parliamentary Counsel during additional estimates hearings in February 2003 of the Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee:

(1) Can the information provided in relation to the answer be updated to the end of the 2003 Autumn sittings.

(2) Have drafting instructions been received by the Office of Parliamentary Counsel for the following legislation: (a) the Classified Information Procedures Bill; (b) the Corporations Amendment (Maximum Priority for Employee Entitlements) Bill; and (c) the Workplace Relations Amendment (Right of Entry) Bill; if so, when were the drafting instructions first received.

(3) Has the Office of Parliamentary Counsel received instructions to draft legislation requiring registered organisations under the Workplace Relations Act 1996 to hold secret ballots in order to affiliate to a political party registered under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 ; if so: (a) when were the drafting instructions first received; (b) are the instructions incomplete; and (c) what is the current title of this legislation.

*1419  Senator Ludwig: To ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General—

(1) (a) How many staff currently hold: (i) ongoing, and (ii) non-ongoing, positions in the Human Rights Branch; and (b) what is the Australian Public Service (APS) level of these positions.

(2) (a) How many ongoing and non-ongoing staff based elsewhere in the department are working on human rights matters; and (b) what is the APS level of these staff.

(3) (a) Which positions are currently vacant in the Human Rights Branch; and (b) how long have they been vacant.

(4) Since the additional estimates hearings in February 2003, how many staff have left the Human Rights Branch.

(5) What is currently the average period of service of staff in the Human Rights Branch.

(6) Since the additional estimates hearings in February 2003, what has been the absentee rate for: (a) sick leave (including workers compensation leave); (b) annual leave; (c) miscellaneous paid leave; and (d) long service leave, in the Human Rights Branch, and in the department as a whole.

(7) What involvement did the Human Rights Branch have in the development of the Australian Human Rights Commission Bill 2003.

*1420  Senator Ludwig: To ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General—

(1) How was the tender for the review of copyright reforms advertised.

(2) When was it advertised.

(3) How many tenders were submitted.

(4) How was the winning tender selected.

(5) What qualifications in copyright law, including legal, technical and economic aspects, was the Government looking for in the winning tender.

(6) Does the law firm of Phillips Fox have an interest or specialise in copyright law; if so, can details be provided.

(7) Where is the law firm Phillips Fox located.

(8) How many employees of Phillips Fox will be working on the review process.

(9) What is the total cost tendered for by the law firm Phillips Fox for the review of copyright reforms.

(10) Can a copy be provided of the tender submitted by Phillips Fox.

(11) What outcomes are expected from the review.

(12) When will the review be completed.

(13) Does the Government have any input into the review process performed by the law firm Phillips Fox.

(14) What qualifications does the law firm Phillips Fox have in the economic and technical aspects of copyright law.