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Notice given 22 June 2011

*700  Senator Boyce: To ask the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research—In regard to research and development (R&D) and its conversion to outcomes:

(1) What is the total Federal Government spend on investment in Australian R&D in each financial year.

(2) What proportion of this funding is subject to milestone achievements based on its application to industry or practical use such as in health or environment, that is, how much is translated into tangible outcomes.

(3) What funding is available for translation or commercialisation of this research to help service existing small business in Australia.

(4)  What quality assurance measures are conducted by AusIndustry to ensure its programs are administered in the same way across all states.

(5) Do states have the same areas of priorities or are priorities determined on a state by state basis.

(6) Does AusIndustry conduct any customer surveys of those who interact with its grant programs; if so, where are the results of those surveys published.

(7) What statistics does AusIndustry gather to measure the outcomes of its programs.

*701  Senator Boyce: To ask the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research—In regard to venture capital funding and start-ups:

(1) How much public funding has been used to assist or subsidise the growth of early stage venture capital funds in Australia over the past five years.

(2) Of those start-up companies that venture capital funds were able to successfully grow and exit:

(a) how many were there; and

(b) how many are still headquartered in Australia.

(3) What was the proportion in which the exit was through sale to a foreign venture capitalist or private equity firm, or the start-up was required to relocate its headquarters offshore.

(4) What has been the immediate return on taxpayers’ funds to Australia.

*702  Senator Boyce: To ask the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research—In regard to support for innovation in small business:

(1) What is the level of collaboration between small business in Australia and the research sector compared with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD] average.

(2) What percentage of the Government’s total innovation budget supports the establishment of such collaboration and de-risking of technology.

(3) How many small and medium enterprises have accessed research and development (R&D) through the Researchers in Business Program and why is more not being done to encourage greater uptake of publicly funded R&D by small business.

(4) What is the total and the proportion of Enterprise Connect funding that results in ‘new to the industry’ or ‘new to the world’ innovation.

 

 *703  Senator Boyce: To ask the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research—In regard to the Commercialisation Australia initiative:

(1) How many companies have received proof of concept funding from Commercialisation Australia since it was established.

(2) How is their progress measured and reported.

(3) How many applicants have applied for such funding.

(4) What happens to unsuccessful applicants.

(5) Are unsuccessful applicants helped in any way, for example, are they given tools or other mentoring to assist them develop.

*704  Senator Siewert: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities—

(1) Is the Minister aware of recent announcements from Shell and Woodside that they are proceeding with the development of floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) processing facilities in their respective Browse Basin (Prelude) and Timor Sea (Sunrise) fields.

(2) Is the Minister aware that Woodside has rejected appeals from the East Timor Government to build a land-based LNG processing facility on Timor, in favour of adoption of floating LNG technology for its Sunrise field.

(3) Is the Minister aware that in rejecting the appeals of the East Timor Government, Woodside has stated that $13 billion in benefits will flow to the East Timorese despite the adoption of floating LNG facilities.

(4) Given that in November 2010, Senator Conroy stated that, ‘The Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities will make his decision on whether or not to approve development of an LNG [gas] precinct at James Price Point only … [if] satisfied that the requirements of the EPBC Act [ Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 ] and strategic assessment terms of reference have been [met]. This includes being satisfied that ‘he is in possession of a full and comprehensive suite of information’. Among other things this suite of information must include an assessment of possible sites outside the Kimberley’:

(a) is the Minister aware of the superficial, biased and out-of-date assessment of LNG processing options outside the Kimberley, including floating LNG, contained within the strategic assessment report (SAR);

(b) is the Minister aware that most of the SAR’s analysis of the floating LNG option and other options outside the Kimberley is derived from the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) report by consultants GHD Ltd which the previous Minister (Mr Garrett) described as, ‘[A] desk top review…not a comprehensive nor definitive analysis of these sites. I am aware that additional investigations in relation to alternative sites are likely to be necessary’;

(c) is the Minister aware that these additional investigations never occurred; and

(d) as the floating LNG and other options outside the Kimberley have not been adequately addressed in the SAR, will the Minister require a full and reliable analysis of options outside the Kimberley prior to making his decision on whether or not to approve the gas precinct at James Price Point; if not, how will the Minister satisfy himself that he has in his possession a full and comprehensive suite of information upon which to base his decision.

(5) Under the published Terms of Reference for the joint Commonwealth-Western Australia Governments strategic assessment of a plan for a common-user LNG natural gas hub precinct to service the Browse Basin gas field, at section 4, dot point 7, there is a requirement for, ‘an analysis of technically and economically viable gas processing options outside the Kimberley, focussing on locations that already have substantial industrial infrastructure, inclusive of floating LNG’:

(a) does the Minister intend that this requirement is met prior to making his decision on whether or not to approve the gas precinct proposed for James Price Point; if not, why not;

(b) is the Minister aware of the major industrial port expansion works currently underway and planned at Port Hedland in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, to cater for more and larger ships;

(c) is the Minister aware that the Port Hedland Shire Council passed a resolution supporting the location of a Browse LNG processing facility at Port Hedland; and

(d) is the Minister aware that SAR rejects Port Hedland on the grounds that it does not have deep enough water or high enough land, even though both those claims are patently false.

(6) Under the Endorsement Criteria, ‘Attachment C’ of the Strategic Assessment Bilateral Agreement, it states that the Minister, in determining whether or not to endorse the Plan:

will have regard to the extent to which the Plan meets the Objects of the EPBC Act. In particular, that it:

  • protects the environment, especially matters of National Environmental Significance;
  • promotes ecologically sustainable development;
  • promotes the conservation of biodiversity; and
  • provides for the protection and conservation of heritage.

Accordingly, the Plan should:

  • prevent actions from being taken in any location that have an impact on matters of National Environmental Significance or of high biodiversity or heritage value [unless unavoidable];

(a) given this ministerial endorsement criteria, and the failure of the SAR to adequately address alternative locations to a James Price Point site, how will the Minister make his decision in accordance with the endorsement criteria;

(b) the ministerial endorsement criteria also highlights the importance of the Plan incorporating the principles of ecologically sustainable development, including the precautionary principle and, ‘in particular, intergenerational equity, in relation to areas containing matters the Minister considers have a high likelihood of being potentially eligible for listing as matters of National Environment Significance (sic), will also be considered’:

 

 (i) given this criteria and the existence at James Price Point of a wide range of matters of national environmental significance, including a range of values likely to result in National Heritage listing of the area, all of which will be damaged by the project if it proceeds, how will the Minister ensure that intergenerational equity is upheld in this area,

(ii) when the above criteria was first drafted by the Commonwealth, did it originally say, ‘potentially eligible for listing as National Heritage’; if so, why, and at who’s instigation, was it changed.

(7) Given the high level of greenhouse gas emissions planned to be released by the Browse LNG project if it proceeds at James Price Point, has the Minister been advised by his department of the likely relative life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of floating LNG technology as compared to piping to a land-based gas processing facility; if so, what was that advice.

*705  Senator Siewert: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities—Given that in 2002 the Commonwealth contributed $75 million to Water for Rivers to fund water savings for River Murray Increased Flows (RMIFs) and, under its Snowy Water License, Snowy Hydro Ltd (SHL) stores the accumulating RMIFs as Above Target Water over which Snowy Hydro has complete discretion and has only ever made one release of RMIFs in 2005-06, and that now the New South Wales Office of Water is proposing further changes to the Snowy Water License which will place severe restrictions on releases of RMIFs limiting them to years when SHL Above Target Water account is over 800GL and permitting release only of a volume to reduce the Above Target Water to no less than 800GL.

(1) Does the Minister support these proposed variations to the conditions of the taxpayer-funded RMIFs that will effectively eliminate any RMIF releases in drought years, the very time that the River Murray would have most need of increased volumes of environmental water.

(2) Why is the Government proceeding with the Snowy Water Licence revision process at this time when there is still no Snowy Scientific Committee to comment on the potential environmental impacts on the River Murray of the proposed changes as required under the Snowy Hydro Corporatisation Act 1997 .

(3) Why has the RMIF’s account not been put under the control of the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder to guarantee the accumulating account is released annually as required by the River Murray and according to the advice of the Snowy Scientific Committee for the river’s best environmental outcome.

*706  Senator Bob Brown: To ask the Minister representing the Treasurer—In the case of a company or individual which donates the use of a private plane to Nauru for members of a federal political party, would the company or individual be eligible for a tax deduction for the cost of the flight.