All Questions Without Notice

questions-without-notice

Question without notice on toxic plantations

01 Mar 2010

Senator BOB BROWN (Tasmania) (Leader of the Australian Greens) (2:30 PM) -My question without notice is to the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. In view of the revelations from Dr Alison Bleaney and Sydney scientist Marcus Scammell that eucalyptus nitens might be turning catchments of water in Tasmania into pesticide factories, when did the minister for forests, Mr Burke, first become aware of that toxicity and what action did he or will he take? Can the minister inform the Senate as to the amount of taxpayers' money which has gone into the genetic modification program which has led to the eucalyptus nitens producing the added flow-off of toxin?
Senator SHERRY (Tasmania) (Assistant Treasurer) -In respect of whether the minister, Mr Burke, is aware or not, I do not know. I will have to take that on notice because there is no reference in the brief provided to me by the minister. I will take that part of the question on notice. I can provide Senator Brown with some material that is relevant to the range of questions he asks. I am advised that there is no evidence to date that naturally-occurring toxins from eucalypt species have been identified as a problem in drinking water supplies in Australia. Also, the Australian government has endorsed the Australian drinking water guidelines to ensure the safety of drinking water supplies. These guidelines, developed as part of the National Water Quality Management Strategy, undergo periodic review, and a review is underway at the present time. That review is being overseen by the National Health and Medical Research Council's Water Quality Advisory Committee, and advice on new and revised guidance is provided to a number of ministerial councils for endorsement, including to the Environment Protection and Heritage Council, which Minister Garrett chairs.
These reviews are intended to ensure that guidance on chemicals and other substances of concern that may be present in drinking water is regularly updated, and that new issues or threats to water quality are addressed quickly and efficiently. The minister, Mr Garrett, has asked his department to work with colleagues from the National Health and Medical Research Council to look into the matter of whether or not naturally occurring toxins from eucalypt species should be treated as an issue of concern in drinking water supplies. I will also take on notice the question about the funding matter. (Time expired)
Senator BOB BROWN (Tasmania) -Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Does the minister understand the difference between a flow-off from a natural ancient forest and the flow-off from a human induced and built plantation, and will the minister concede that flow-off from genetically altered and enhanced plantations cannot be described as natural? (Time expired)
Senator Abetz -Who supported the establishment of these plantations?
Senator SHERRY (Tasmania) (Assistant Treasurer) -I have to say that on occasions, though very rarely, Senator Abetz is of some help. He did refresh-
Senator Mark Bishop -Ask Godwin!
Senator SHERRY -I would not ask Mr Grech. On this occasion, Senator Abetz has been extraordinarily helpful. He does remind me of the history of the debate on the plantations in Tasmania. The Greens were very strong supporters of plantations in my home state of Tasmania.
Senator Bob Brown -Mr President, I rise on a point of order. You know the difficulty when Senator Abetz and Senator Sherry get together-
The PRESIDENT -That is not a point of order!
Senator Bob Brown -No, but what is a point of order is that there is 34 seconds left and I ask the minister whether he is claiming that plantation forests and their run-off are ‘natural'.
The PRESIDENT -I do draw the minister's attention to the fact that he has 34 seconds remaining to address the question.
Senator SHERRY (Tasmania) (Assistant Treasurer) -As I have said, I do not have a brief from the minister, Mr Burke. I will take that aspect of the question on notice. As to the other matters that Senator Brown raised in his supplementary question, under the Tasmanian Regional Forestry Agreement, the Tasmanian government has of course- (Time expired)
Senator BOB BROWN (Tasmania) -Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I remark on the failure of the minister to answer either of the previous two questions. I ask him: does it not concern the government that the University of New South Wales toxicologist Christian Khalil has said that whatever agent is in the water is 100 per cent toxic to human skin, liver and lung cells. We are referring to water from the Georges River, which supplies the people of St Helens. Does it not worry the government that the same toxin-
The PRESIDENT -Senator Brown, your time has expired. I remind senators that supplementary questions are now limited to 30 seconds for the questioner.
Senator SHERRY (Tasmania) (Assistant Treasurer) -I am aware of the issue raised on Australian Story on the ABC on 15 February. I understand the second part of the story is to be aired tonight. I have already indicated that I am a representational minister and I do not have a brief from the minister, Mr Burke.
Senator Bob Brown -Well you should have-it is all over the media.
Senator SHERRY -I have been honest-the fact is I do not have that brief. With due respect, I think I am making a reasonable attempt to answer your question without a brief. I am being very honest and frank in the face of not having a brief, and am taking on notice those areas where I have indicated I will come back to you with an answer.
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Senator BOB BROWN (Tasmania) (Leader of the Australian Greens) (2:30 PM) -My question without notice is to the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. In view of the revelations from Dr Alison Bleaney and Sydney scientist Marcus Scammell that eucalyptus nitens might be turning catchments of water in Tasmania into pesticide factories, when did the minister for forests, Mr Burke, first become aware of that toxicity and what action did he or will he take? Can the minister inform the Senate as to the amount of taxpayers' money which has gone into the genetic modification program which has led to the eucalyptus nitens producing the added flow-off of toxin?



Senator SHERRY (Tasmania) (Assistant Treasurer) -In respect of whether the minister, Mr Burke, is aware or not, I do not know. I will have to take that on notice because there is no reference in the brief provided to me by the minister. I will take that part of the question on notice. I can provide Senator Brown with some material that is relevant to the range of questions he asks. I am advised that there is no evidence to date that naturally-occurring toxins from eucalypt species have been identified as a problem in drinking water supplies in Australia. Also, the Australian government has endorsed the Australian drinking water guidelines to ensure the safety of drinking water supplies. These guidelines, developed as part of the National Water Quality Management Strategy, undergo periodic review, and a review is underway at the present time. That review is being overseen by the National Health and Medical Research Council's Water Quality Advisory Committee, and advice on new and revised guidance is provided to a number of ministerial councils for endorsement, including to the Environment Protection and Heritage Council, which Minister Garrett chairs.


These reviews are intended to ensure that guidance on chemicals and other substances of concern that may be present in drinking water is regularly updated, and that new issues or threats to water quality are addressed quickly and efficiently. The minister, Mr Garrett, has asked his department to work with colleagues from the National Health and Medical Research Council to look into the matter of whether or not naturally occurring toxins from eucalypt species should be treated as an issue of concern in drinking water supplies. I will also take on notice the question about the funding matter. (Time expired)



Senator BOB BROWN (Tasmania) -Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Does the minister understand the difference between a flow-off from a natural ancient forest and the flow-off from a human induced and built plantation, and will the minister concede that flow-off from genetically altered and enhanced plantations cannot be described as natural? (Time expired)



Senator Abetz -Who supported the establishment of these plantations?



Senator SHERRY (Tasmania) (Assistant Treasurer) -I have to say that on occasions, though very rarely, Senator Abetz is of some help. He did refresh-



Senator Mark Bishop -Ask Godwin!



Senator SHERRY -I would not ask Mr Grech. On this occasion, Senator Abetz has been extraordinarily helpful. He does remind me of the history of the debate on the plantations in Tasmania. The Greens were very strong supporters of plantations in my home state of Tasmania.



Senator Bob Brown -Mr President, I rise on a point of order. You know the difficulty when Senator Abetz and Senator Sherry get together-



The PRESIDENT -That is not a point of order!



Senator Bob Brown -No, but what is a point of order is that there is 34 seconds left and I ask the minister whether he is claiming that plantation forests and their run-off are ‘natural'.



The PRESIDENT -I do draw the minister's attention to the fact that he has 34 seconds remaining to address the question.



Senator SHERRY (Tasmania) (Assistant Treasurer) -As I have said, I do not have a brief from the minister, Mr Burke. I will take that aspect of the question on notice. As to the other matters that Senator Brown raised in his supplementary question, under the Tasmanian Regional Forestry Agreement, the Tasmanian government has of course- (Time expired)



Senator BOB BROWN (Tasmania) -Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I remark on the failure of the minister to answer either of the previous two questions. I ask him: does it not concern the government that the University of New South Wales toxicologist Christian Khalil has said that whatever agent is in the water is 100 per cent toxic to human skin, liver and lung cells. We are referring to water from the Georges River, which supplies the people of St Helens. Does it not worry the government that the same toxin-



The PRESIDENT -Senator Brown, your time has expired. I remind senators that supplementary questions are now limited to 30 seconds for the questioner.



Senator SHERRY (Tasmania) (Assistant Treasurer) -I am aware of the issue raised on Australian Story on the ABC on 15 February. I understand the second part of the story is to be aired tonight. I have already indicated that I am a representational minister and I do not have a brief from the minister, Mr Burke.



Senator Bob Brown -Well you should have-it is all over the media.



Senator SHERRY -I have been honest-the fact is I do not have that brief. With due respect, I think I am making a reasonable attempt to answer your question without a brief. I am being very honest and frank in the face of not having a brief, and am taking on notice those areas where I have indicated I will come back to you with an answer.


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questions-without-notice

Question without notice on toxic plantations

01 Mar 2010

Senator BOB BROWN (Tasmania) (Leader of the Australian Greens) (2:30 PM) -My question without notice is to the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. In view of the revelations from Dr Alison Bleaney and Sydney scientist Marcus Scammell that eucalyptus nitens might be turning catchments of water in Tasmania into pesticide factories, when did the minister for forests, Mr Burke, first become aware of that toxicity and what action did he or will he take? Can the minister inform the Senate as to the amount of taxpayers' money which has gone into the genetic modification program which has led to the eucalyptus nitens producing the added flow-off of toxin?
Senator SHERRY (Tasmania) (Assistant Treasurer) -In respect of whether the minister, Mr Burke, is aware or not, I do not know. I will have to take that on notice because there is no reference in the brief provided to me by the minister. I will take that part of the question on notice. I can provide Senator Brown with some material that is relevant to the range of questions he asks. I am advised that there is no evidence to date that naturally-occurring toxins from eucalypt species have been identified as a problem in drinking water supplies in Australia. Also, the Australian government has endorsed the Australian drinking water guidelines to ensure the safety of drinking water supplies. These guidelines, developed as part of the National Water Quality Management Strategy, undergo periodic review, and a review is underway at the present time. That review is being overseen by the National Health and Medical Research Council's Water Quality Advisory Committee, and advice on new and revised guidance is provided to a number of ministerial councils for endorsement, including to the Environment Protection and Heritage Council, which Minister Garrett chairs.
These reviews are intended to ensure that guidance on chemicals and other substances of concern that may be present in drinking water is regularly updated, and that new issues or threats to water quality are addressed quickly and efficiently. The minister, Mr Garrett, has asked his department to work with colleagues from the National Health and Medical Research Council to look into the matter of whether or not naturally occurring toxins from eucalypt species should be treated as an issue of concern in drinking water supplies. I will also take on notice the question about the funding matter. (Time expired)
Senator BOB BROWN (Tasmania) -Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Does the minister understand the difference between a flow-off from a natural ancient forest and the flow-off from a human induced and built plantation, and will the minister concede that flow-off from genetically altered and enhanced plantations cannot be described as natural? (Time expired)
Senator Abetz -Who supported the establishment of these plantations?
Senator SHERRY (Tasmania) (Assistant Treasurer) -I have to say that on occasions, though very rarely, Senator Abetz is of some help. He did refresh-
Senator Mark Bishop -Ask Godwin!
Senator SHERRY -I would not ask Mr Grech. On this occasion, Senator Abetz has been extraordinarily helpful. He does remind me of the history of the debate on the plantations in Tasmania. The Greens were very strong supporters of plantations in my home state of Tasmania.
Senator Bob Brown -Mr President, I rise on a point of order. You know the difficulty when Senator Abetz and Senator Sherry get together-
The PRESIDENT -That is not a point of order!
Senator Bob Brown -No, but what is a point of order is that there is 34 seconds left and I ask the minister whether he is claiming that plantation forests and their run-off are ‘natural'.
The PRESIDENT -I do draw the minister's attention to the fact that he has 34 seconds remaining to address the question.
Senator SHERRY (Tasmania) (Assistant Treasurer) -As I have said, I do not have a brief from the minister, Mr Burke. I will take that aspect of the question on notice. As to the other matters that Senator Brown raised in his supplementary question, under the Tasmanian Regional Forestry Agreement, the Tasmanian government has of course- (Time expired)
Senator BOB BROWN (Tasmania) -Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I remark on the failure of the minister to answer either of the previous two questions. I ask him: does it not concern the government that the University of New South Wales toxicologist Christian Khalil has said that whatever agent is in the water is 100 per cent toxic to human skin, liver and lung cells. We are referring to water from the Georges River, which supplies the people of St Helens. Does it not worry the government that the same toxin-
The PRESIDENT -Senator Brown, your time has expired. I remind senators that supplementary questions are now limited to 30 seconds for the questioner.
Senator SHERRY (Tasmania) (Assistant Treasurer) -I am aware of the issue raised on Australian Story on the ABC on 15 February. I understand the second part of the story is to be aired tonight. I have already indicated that I am a representational minister and I do not have a brief from the minister, Mr Burke.
Senator Bob Brown -Well you should have-it is all over the media.
Senator SHERRY -I have been honest-the fact is I do not have that brief. With due respect, I think I am making a reasonable attempt to answer your question without a brief. I am being very honest and frank in the face of not having a brief, and am taking on notice those areas where I have indicated I will come back to you with an answer.

 
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Senator BOB BROWN (Tasmania) (Leader of the Australian Greens) (2:30 PM) -My question without notice is to the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. In view of the revelations from Dr Alison Bleaney and Sydney scientist Marcus Scammell that eucalyptus nitens might be turning catchments of water in Tasmania into pesticide factories, when did the minister for forests, Mr Burke, first become aware of that toxicity and what action did he or will he take? Can the minister inform the Senate as to the amount of taxpayers' money which has gone into the genetic modification program which has led to the eucalyptus nitens producing the added flow-off of toxin?



Senator SHERRY (Tasmania) (Assistant Treasurer) -In respect of whether the minister, Mr Burke, is aware or not, I do not know. I will have to take that on notice because there is no reference in the brief provided to me by the minister. I will take that part of the question on notice. I can provide Senator Brown with some material that is relevant to the range of questions he asks. I am advised that there is no evidence to date that naturally-occurring toxins from eucalypt species have been identified as a problem in drinking water supplies in Australia. Also, the Australian government has endorsed the Australian drinking water guidelines to ensure the safety of drinking water supplies. These guidelines, developed as part of the National Water Quality Management Strategy, undergo periodic review, and a review is underway at the present time. That review is being overseen by the National Health and Medical Research Council's Water Quality Advisory Committee, and advice on new and revised guidance is provided to a number of ministerial councils for endorsement, including to the Environment Protection and Heritage Council, which Minister Garrett chairs.


These reviews are intended to ensure that guidance on chemicals and other substances of concern that may be present in drinking water is regularly updated, and that new issues or threats to water quality are addressed quickly and efficiently. The minister, Mr Garrett, has asked his department to work with colleagues from the National Health and Medical Research Council to look into the matter of whether or not naturally occurring toxins from eucalypt species should be treated as an issue of concern in drinking water supplies. I will also take on notice the question about the funding matter. (Time expired)



Senator BOB BROWN (Tasmania) -Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Does the minister understand the difference between a flow-off from a natural ancient forest and the flow-off from a human induced and built plantation, and will the minister concede that flow-off from genetically altered and enhanced plantations cannot be described as natural? (Time expired)



Senator Abetz -Who supported the establishment of these plantations?



Senator SHERRY (Tasmania) (Assistant Treasurer) -I have to say that on occasions, though very rarely, Senator Abetz is of some help. He did refresh-



Senator Mark Bishop -Ask Godwin!



Senator SHERRY -I would not ask Mr Grech. On this occasion, Senator Abetz has been extraordinarily helpful. He does remind me of the history of the debate on the plantations in Tasmania. The Greens were very strong supporters of plantations in my home state of Tasmania.



Senator Bob Brown -Mr President, I rise on a point of order. You know the difficulty when Senator Abetz and Senator Sherry get together-



The PRESIDENT -That is not a point of order!



Senator Bob Brown -No, but what is a point of order is that there is 34 seconds left and I ask the minister whether he is claiming that plantation forests and their run-off are ‘natural'.



The PRESIDENT -I do draw the minister's attention to the fact that he has 34 seconds remaining to address the question.



Senator SHERRY (Tasmania) (Assistant Treasurer) -As I have said, I do not have a brief from the minister, Mr Burke. I will take that aspect of the question on notice. As to the other matters that Senator Brown raised in his supplementary question, under the Tasmanian Regional Forestry Agreement, the Tasmanian government has of course- (Time expired)



Senator BOB BROWN (Tasmania) -Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I remark on the failure of the minister to answer either of the previous two questions. I ask him: does it not concern the government that the University of New South Wales toxicologist Christian Khalil has said that whatever agent is in the water is 100 per cent toxic to human skin, liver and lung cells. We are referring to water from the Georges River, which supplies the people of St Helens. Does it not worry the government that the same toxin-



The PRESIDENT -Senator Brown, your time has expired. I remind senators that supplementary questions are now limited to 30 seconds for the questioner.


Senator SHERRY (Tasmania) (Assistant Treasurer) -I am aware of the issue raised on Australian Story on the ABC on 15 February. I understand the second part of the story is to be aired tonight. I have already indicated that I am a representational minister and I do not have a brief from the minister, Mr Burke.



Senator Bob Brown -Well you should have-it is all over the media.



Senator SHERRY -I have been honest-the fact is I do not have that brief. With due respect, I think I am making a reasonable attempt to answer your question without a brief. I am being very honest and frank in the face of not having a brief, and am taking on notice those areas where I have indicated I will come back to you with an answer.



 


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questions-without-notice

question without notice on election debates

01 Mar 2010

Senator BOB BROWN (Tasmania) (Leader of the Australian Greens) (2:21 PM) -My question without notice is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Evans. I refer to Labor's promise in the run-up to the last election that, instead of the Prime Minister of the day dictating the terms of the leaders debate to suit their political interests, the format, timing and rules for any future debates would be decided by an independent election debate commission. When will the government establish that commission? Senator CHRIS EVANS (Western Australia) (Leader of the Government in the Senate) -Some senators will not be surprised that I do not have a brief on that issue so I am not able to assist the senator. Unlike some people, I am actually not focused on the next election; I think it is some time away. So the question of the leaders-
Honourable senators interjecting-Senator CHRIS EVANS -The Prime Minister has said we will go full term. So, Senator Brown, referring to the question of the leaders debate-I presume in an election context-I will have to take that on notice and get the information for you. I do not have any information as to current planning for a leadership debate during the election period, but I will take it on notice and get the information that the senator seeks.
Honourable senators interjecting-The SPEAKER -Order! Wait a minute, Senator Brown. I will call you, but I need silence on both sides. Conversation across the chamber is disorderly. Senator Brown is entitled to be heard in silence. Senator BOB BROWN (Tasmania) -Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I refer to the current proposals for leaders debates in the Tasmanian state election, where the Labor Premier has declined to appear on ABC TV although both other leaders, Nick McKim for the Greens and Mr Hodgman for the Liberals, have offered to go. Does the minister think that one leader refusing to debate should lead to no debate? Senator CHRIS EVANS (Western Australia) (Leader of the Government in the Senate) -Clearly the supplementary is in no way related to my responsibilities in representing the Prime Minister. What arrangements are made in Tasmania in relation to their state election and the debates there is not under any control of the federal government or the Prime Minister. I was not aware of that-I have not been following the Tasmanian election closely enough to follow that debate. I would have thought, if the Greens were debating the coalition or the Liberal Party, you would be pleased about that. In any event, Senator Brown, I cannot help you with that information. What I have said to you is that I will take on notice the question you asked about federal government responsibilities and the Prime Minister's attitude to these things, and I will get back to you on that. But, in relation to Tasmania, I cannot help you. Senator BOB BROWN (Tasmania) -Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I would be pleased if the Greens were debating the Liberals, because Mr McKim has won each of the debates held so far. The question I want to ask is about the federal commission proposed by Labor in the run to the last election. Would the minister establish from the Prime Minister what terms he intends to give to that commission, whether the press gallery will still be the arbiter of the form of the debate and what public input will be allowed for the leaders debate in the run to the next federal election? Senator CHRIS EVANS (Western Australia) (Leader of the Government in the Senate) -As I indicated to Senator Brown, I am happy to take on notice the questions he asked. I do not have a brief. I have not got the answers to the sort of information he is seeking. But I will take that further supplementary question on notice and see what I can get for him.

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Senator BOB BROWN (Tasmania) (Leader of the Australian Greens) (2:21 PM) -My question without notice is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Evans. I refer to Labor's promise in the run-up to the last election that, instead of the Prime Minister of the day dictating the terms of the leaders debate to suit their political interests, the format, timing and rules for any future debates would be decided by an independent election debate commission. When will the government establish that commission?

Senator CHRIS EVANS (Western Australia) (Leader of the Government in the Senate) -Some senators will not be surprised that I do not have a brief on that issue so I am not able to assist the senator. Unlike some people, I am actually not focused on the next election; I think it is some time away. So the question of the leaders-


Honourable senators interjecting-

Senator CHRIS EVANS -The Prime Minister has said we will go full term. So, Senator Brown, referring to the question of the leaders debate-I presume in an election context-I will have to take that on notice and get the information for you. I do not have any information as to current planning for a leadership debate during the election period, but I will take it on notice and get the information that the senator seeks.


Honourable senators interjecting-

The SPEAKER -Order! Wait a minute, Senator Brown. I will call you, but I need silence on both sides. Conversation across the chamber is disorderly. Senator Brown is entitled to be heard in silence.

Senator BOB BROWN (Tasmania) -Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I refer to the current proposals for leaders debates in the Tasmanian state election, where the Labor Premier has declined to appear on ABC TV although both other leaders, Nick McKim for the Greens and Mr Hodgman for the Liberals, have offered to go. Does the minister think that one leader refusing to debate should lead to no debate?

Senator CHRIS EVANS (Western Australia) (Leader of the Government in the Senate) -Clearly the supplementary is in no way related to my responsibilities in representing the Prime Minister. What arrangements are made in Tasmania in relation to their state election and the debates there is not under any control of the federal government or the Prime Minister. I was not aware of that-I have not been following the Tasmanian election closely enough to follow that debate. I would have thought, if the Greens were debating the coalition or the Liberal Party, you would be pleased about that. In any event, Senator Brown, I cannot help you with that information. What I have said to you is that I will take on notice the question you asked about federal government responsibilities and the Prime Minister's attitude to these things, and I will get back to you on that. But, in relation to Tasmania, I cannot help you.

Senator BOB BROWN (Tasmania) -Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I would be pleased if the Greens were debating the Liberals, because Mr McKim has won each of the debates held so far. The question I want to ask is about the federal commission proposed by Labor in the run to the last election. Would the minister establish from the Prime Minister what terms he intends to give to that commission, whether the press gallery will still be the arbiter of the form of the debate and what public input will be allowed for the leaders debate in the run to the next federal election?

Senator CHRIS EVANS (Western Australia) (Leader of the Government in the Senate) -As I indicated to Senator Brown, I am happy to take on notice the questions he asked. I do not have a brief. I have not got the answers to the sort of information he is seeking. But I will take that further supplementary question on notice and see what I can get for him.


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