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Notice given 4 April 2011

563  Senator Ludlam: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence—

(1) With reference to Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011, including the costs of the exercise and the Public Environment Report (PER):

(a) what is the total cost to the department of the Talisman Sabre exercises;

(b) what proportion of this cost will Australia be paying;

(c) what was the cost to the department of the preparation of the PER by AECOM;

(d) given that the public submission period closed in December 2010: (i) how many submissions were received, and (ii) how was participation advertised;

(e) is the department aware of a local campaign to get Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011 cancelled in order to use the money for the Queensland recovery;

(d) will the Talisman Sabre games take place anywhere in Western Australia; and

(f) following Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011, will any submarines from the United States of America (US) be landing in Fremantle to engage in ‘border protection’ or ‘piracy’ work.

(2) With reference to the details of the exercise, including what and who is involved:

(a) when will Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011 be occurring;

(b) what are the dates for the live firing parts of the exercise;


 (c) in which parts of Australia will the war games be taking place;

(d) how many Australian troops will be taking part in the war games, listed separately: (i) army, (ii) navy, and (iii) air force.

(e) how many troops from the US will be taking part in the war games, listed separately: (i) army, (ii) navy, and (iii) air force.

(f) will the Australian Federal Police participate in the exercise;

(g) will the Defence Signals Directorate, the Australian Secret Intelligence Services, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, or any other Australian intelligence agencies, participate in the exercise;

(h) will US intelligence agencies participate in the exercise;

(i) will military or other personnel from countries other than Australia be observing Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011; if so, for what purpose;

(j) is there any way of knowing what class of nuclear submarines will be used; and

(k) will unmanned aerial vehicles be used throughout the exercise.

(3) With reference to the stakeholders:

(a) who is identified as a stakeholder for the purpose of consultation in Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011;

(b) how will consultation with the traditional owners of the land and seas used in Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011 take place;

(c) who is consulted about the use of: (i) the Coral and Arafura Seas; (ii) the Bradshaw and Delamere Range sites in the Northern Territory, (iii) Brisbane Port, (iv) Shoalwater Bay, (v) Cowley Beach, and (vi) any other areas of operation;

(d) do traditional owners have any right to dissent to actions involved in Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011;

(e) what is the contingency plan for the event that protesters trespass onto a military area during the live phase of the exercise;

(f) given that, in past Talisman Sabre exercises, certain media has been invited to special events, including press conferences in Brisbane and elsewhere, ship visits and trips into the military zone at Shoalwater Bay, while independent media, such as community radio stations and freelance filmmakers and journalists have not been included in these invitations: (i) what process is entailed in determining which media personnel are invited, and (ii) will community radio and other independent media-makers be invited to media events for Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011; and

(g) can the department confirm that there is a mosque in the Urban Warfare Training Facility in the Shoalwater Bay Training Facility; if so, is its purpose to assist in practice military operations against mosques.

(4) Given that the Exercise Talisman Saber 2009 Environment Post Exercise Report , dated January 2010, suggests that there were no significant environmental incidents in regard to whale surveys, some ground surface damage management, and back burning or fire management issues, yet includes no information about the impacts of live firing, mine countermeasures and anti-submarine warfare:

(a) what were the impacts of live firing, mine counter measures and anti-submarine warfare;


 (b) what measures will be taken to measure and minimise harmful contamination to the water in Shoalwater Bay; and

(c) what actions were taken by the military between 2007 and 2009 to lessen the potential impacts of military exercises on migrating whales, in particular, and other flora and fauna.

(5) Will depleted uranium weapons be used during the joint military exercise; if so:

(a) where will they be used;

(b) how many will be used;

(c) are the surrounding communities aware that depleted uranium weapons will be used; and

(d) has the Government completed any analysis on the human health effects of exposure to depleted uranium weapons.

564  Senator Ludlam: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs—With reference to the statistical summary of the statement Australia’s International Development Assistance Program 2008-09, published by AusAID in December 2010, which stated that Australia gave, in total, $546,000 in assistance to the production sector in Burma, the production sector being described as including agriculture, forestry and fishing; industry, mining and construction; and trade and tourism:

(1) To whom was this financial assistance provided and for what purpose.

(2) What outcomes were achieved as a result of this assistance being provided.

(3) Was similar financial assistance provided to the production sector in Burma during: (a) the 2009-10 financial year; and (b) the 2010-11 financial year.

(4) Were any discussions held with AusAID or departmental officials, parliamentarians or other governmental agencies about such financial assistance being in violation of Australia’s policy regarding trade and investment in Burma.

(5) Given that AusAID is currently in the process of creating a Burma strategy, expected to be completed by the middle of 2011, and that an interim report was released in December 2010, what process is being used in developing the strategy, particularly in relation to how the policy is being shaped and who is involved in doing this.

(6) Will the policy drafting process be made public and will there be a mechanism or an avenue for the public to engage with this process, such as, by making a submission to AusAID.

565  Senator Ludlam: To ask the Minister for Finance and Deregulation—With reference to travel undertaken by departmental staff: can a list be provided by the department itemising all air travel completed across each department of the Australian Government; if not, where are such costs itemised annually.

571  Senator Ludlam: To ask the Minister representing the Treasurer—With reference to the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS):

(1) What is the name of the unit within the department which advises the Treasurer on the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS), and how many people is it comprised of.

(2) Does the department still consider the NRAS program to be undersubscribed.


 (3) What industry consultation took place prior to the providing of advice to the Government that the target should be capped at 30 000.

(4) How does the department work with the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities on NRAS.

(5) Given that, in November 2008, the Government introduced a transitional safety net to cover charities participating in NRAS, targeting charitable organisations that participate during the establishment phase of NRAS (dwellings built during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 financial years), thereby expiring at the end of that establishment phase:

(a) what is the current situation for charitable organisations participating in NRAS; and

(b) did the transitional safety net expire as noted; if so, are the affected charitable organisations currently participating in NRAS in danger of losing their charitable status and loss of valuable tax concessions.

574  Senator Ludlam: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence—

(1) Does the department have a policy which prohibits the acceptance of gifts from suppliers or potential suppliers at any time or only during a tendering process or contract negotiation.

(2) If the policy only applies during a tendering process or contract negotiation, could this lead to the inappropriate strengthening of relationships and improper influence over decision-making processes, even if a contract is not being sought or negotiated at that specific time.

(3) Does the department’s policy specifically prohibit the acceptance of gifts at any time, or only the soliciting of gifts.

577  Senator Ludlam: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence—With reference to the use of depleted uranium (DU) in Afghanistan by coalition partners and the answer to a question taken on notice during the 2009-10 supplementary Budget estimates of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee on DU use in Afghanistan by our coalition partners, which states that ‘Coalition partners have not provided any information on their use of depleted uranium munitions’: Has the Australian Government asked our coalition partners whether they have used DU in Afghanistan.

578  Senator Ludlam: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade—With reference to uranium mining in Africa by Australian mining companies:

(1) Did any departmental officers attend the Indaba mining conference held in Cape Town in February 2011; if so, who attended and with what purpose and outcome.

(2) What further discussions or correspondence has the department had with representatives of the Australia-Africa Mining Industry Group or mining industry representatives in relation to possible partnerships between Australian mining companies operating in Africa and AusAID.

(3) What companies, bodies and officers have been involved in this discourse and with what outcomes.

(4) Can an outline be provided of the process for the sale of the Australian mining company Mantra Resources Limited to the Russian nuclear company ARMZ Uranium Holding Co.

(5) What role does the department play in any assessment or approval of such a sale.


 (6) Has the department provided any advice to any party or agency, for example, the Foreign Investment Review Board, on this sale.

(7) (a) What government assessment, due diligence or approval is required in such a case; and (b) what are the mechanisms for realising this.

(8) Does the department expect or require Australian mining companies operating in Africa to abide by standards comparable to those that apply in Australia and to observe responsible international practice; if so, how is this expectation or requirement given effect.

(9) What is the department’s position on the current situation of the Bannerman Resources Etango Project in Namibia, particularly in relation to the public comment period on the project being completed prior to the public release of the environmental and social impact assessment and the environmental and social management plan (both key environmental assessment documents).