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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.