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Tuesday, 13 May 2003
Page: 10970


Senator O'Brien asked the Minister representing the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources, upon notice, on 10 March 2003:

With reference to the Gene Technology Information Service operated by Biotechnology Australia, which reports to senior Cabinet ministers including the Minister for agriculture Fisheries and Forestry:

(1) When was the service established.

(2) For each financial year since its establishment: (a) what has been the total amount of funding expended by the Commonwealth on the service; and (b) what proportion of the total costs of running the service has been borne by the department.

(3) What is the budgeted expenditure for the 2002-03 financial year.

(4) What has been the actual expenditure to date for the 2002-03 financial year.

(5) Which output area within the department is responsible for the service.

(6) Can a breakdown of direct and indirect costs be provided for each financial year since the service was established, including: (a) staff costs; (b) infrastructure costs (including maintenance); (c) telephone costs; (d) departmental costs; and (e) and any other costs.

(7) How does the service deliver information to customers who make inquiries of it.

(8) If the answer to (7) includes by telephone, what is the telephone number.

(9) Where the service delivers information to people who make inquiries of it in ways other than by telephone: (a) what methods are used by the service; and (b) how much has been spent by the service on each method for each financial year since its establishment.

(10) For each financial year since its establishment, how many inquiries were received by the service.

(11) What is the average response time for an inquiry, that is, what is the average time between when a customer makes an inquiry of the service and when the inquiry is considered by service to be complete.

(12) What are the hours of operation of the service.

(13) Have the hours of operation, or other operational details, altered since it was established; if so, can details these of changes be provided.

(14) What are the top 10 categories of customer inquiry to the service for each of the financial years since its establishment, breaking those categories into those who identify themselves as primary producers and those who do not.

(15) What media have been used to advertise the service or in some other way communicate to the public in order to make them aware that the service exists and what the role of the service is.

(16) For each financial year since its establishment, what has been the expenditure on advertising and other means used to communicate to the public in order to make them aware that the service exists and what the role of the service is.


Senator Minchin (Minister for Finance and Administration) —The Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) 20 December 1999.

(2) 1999/2000:

(a) $118,525.15 (no GST);

(b) 70% covered by department.

2000/2001:

(a) $88,460.14 (GST included);

(b) 70% covered by department.

2001/2002:

(a) $148,500.78 (GST included);

(b) 70% covered by department.

2002/2003:

(a) $52,251.76 (up to January 2003 - GST included);

(b) 70% covered by department.

(3) Budgeted expenditure for 2002/2003 is $100,000.

(4) Actual expenditure for 2002/2003 is $52,251.76 (payment from July 2002 to January 2003 with GST included).

(5) Biotechnology Australia.

(6) Breakdown of costs:

1999 /2000:

i staff: $54,706.75

ii infrastructure: not applicable

iii telephone: $1,848.25

iv departmental: $118,525.15

v other: $61,970.15

2000/2001:

i staff: $71,237.14

ii infrastructure: in-kind from the University of Melbourne

iii telephone: $1,700.41

iv departmental: $88,460.14

v other $15,522.59

2001/2002:

i staff: $94,547.26

ii infrastructure: in-kind from the University of Melbourne

iii telephone: $1,438.53

iv departmental: $148,500.78

v other $52,514.99

2002/2003 (up to end January 2003):

i staff: $40,169.37

ii infrastructure: in-kind from the University of Melbourne

iii telephone: $620.66

iv departmental: $52,251.76

v other $11,461.73

(7) The service is delivered by phone, email, fax, mail and “in person” at various public events.

(8) The telephone number is 1800 631 276.

(9) Methods used to deliver service:

Mail, email, fax and in person.

1999/2000: breakdown of cost across methods of delivery not available during trial period.

2000/2001:

i Mail $2,541.26

ii Email approximately $720 (in-kind from the University of Melbourne)

iii Fax includes landline at the university $980.02

iv In person $4,857.14

2001/2002:

i Mail $8,200.19

ii Email approx $720 (in-kind from the University of Melbourne)

iii Fax includes landline at the university $1,092.70

iv In person $22,981.82

2002/2003:

i Mail $2,560.54

ii Email approx $720 (in-kind from the University of Melbourne)

iii Fax includes landline at the university $23

iv In person $2,746.10

(10) Enquiries received:

a. 1999/2000: 1590.

b. 2000/2001: 1283.

c. 2001/2002: 1052.

d. 2002/2003 (up to March 14): 675.

(11) The GTIS procedure is to respond with information or mail out fact sheets within 24 hours.

More complex queries such as requests for speakers are responded to within a week.

(12) 9am to 5pm weekdays (Australian Eastern Standard Time).

(13) No changes to hours of operation.

(14) Top 10 categories of enquiries, in order of frequency:

a. 1999/2000 - (i) other, (ii) GM food, (iii) gene technology, (iv) food safety, (v) labelling, (vi) request for resources (pamphlets), (vii) protest, (viii) regulations, (iv) request for speaker, and, (x) not available.

b. 2000/2001 - (i) GM food, (ii) other, (iii) gene technology, (iv) request for resources, (v) labelling, (vi) food safety, (vii) regulation, (viii) crops/agriculture, (ix) request for speaker, and, (x) protest.

c. 2001/2002 - (i) request for resources, (ii) other, (iii) GM food, (iv) gene technology, (v) labelling, (vi) crops/agriculture, (vii) regulation, (viii) industry/careers, (ix) medical, and, (x) food safety.

d. 2002/2003 (up to March 14) - (i) medical, (ii) other, (iii) request for resources, (iv) GM food, (v) crops/agriculture, (vi) gene technology, (vii) industry/career, (viii) labelling, (ix) regulation, and, (x) food safety.

This top 10 categories of enquiries cannot be further broken down to identify enquirers who are primary producers and those who are not.

(15) GTIS has raised awareness of its service by a number of means such as:

· listing its freecall number on Biotechnology Australia publications, promotional products and web site;

· fact sheets from the partnering government bodies;

· attendance at conferences and public events; and

· community announcements and interviews on radio.

(16) Advertising costs:

1999/2000 - $0

2000/2001 - $0

2001/2002 - $0

2002/2003 - $0

The freecall number is listed on Biotechnology Australia publications, promotional products and web site, with no extra cost incurred.