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Notice given 20 August 2001

3840  Senator Murray: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs—With reference to the refusal by the department to grant refugee status to Mr Ari Ben-Menashe in 1991, and given that Mr Ben-Menashe’s application was based on his claim to be a former Israeli military intelligence officer and his fear of prosecution under the Official Secrets Act if he were to return to Israel:

(1) Did the department investigate whether Mr Ben-Menashe was in fact a former military intelligence officer; if not, why not.

(2) If the matter was investigated, what was the result of this investigation.

(3) If the department did not accept Mr Ben-Menashe’s claim that he was a former military intelligence officer, on what basis did it reject that claim.

(4) Did the department make any determination as to the extent to which Mr Ben-Menashe was involved in intelligence activities.

(5) Was the department aware of the fact that Mr Ben-Menashe appeared before a Congressional inquiry in the United States (US).

(6) Was the department aware of Mr Ben-Menashe’s desire to similarly appear before the West Australian Royal Commission into the Commercial Activities of Government and Other Matters.

(7) Was the department aware that Mr Ben-Menashe intended to inform the Royal Commission that arms had been illegally trafficked through Fremantle in Western Australia.

(8) Was the department aware that Mr Ben-Menashe also intended to testify that a US$6 million ‘contribution’ was made to the Australian Labor Party as part of the arms trafficking operation.

(9) In respect of (1) and (4) to (8) inclusive, was the Minister made aware of these facts; if not, why not.

(10) On what basis was Mr Ben-Menashe’s application for asylum rejected.

3841  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Finance and Administration—With reference to import tariffs on 4-wheel drive (4WD) vehicles:

(1) How many 4WD vehicles are currently being imported into Australia.

(2) What percentage of 4WD vehicles are used in primary production or primarily for business purposes.

(3) How many 4WD vehicles have been imported into Australia in each of the past 5 years.

(4) How many second-hand 4WD vehicles have been imported into Australia during each of the past 5 years.

(5) How many of those used imported vehicles ran on: (a) diesel; (b) gas; and (c) petrol.

(6) How many 4WD vehicles imported into Australia in the past 5 years have not attracted the luxury vehicle tariff/tax.

(7) What was the total import tariff/tax revenue derived during the 2000-01 financial year from 4WD vehicles.

(8) How much of that revenue is derived from the luxury vehicle tariff/tax.

(9) What is the total import tariff/tax revenue foregone as a result of imposing only a 5 per cent instead of the 15 per cent tariff/tax which other passenger vehicles attract.

(10) What is the projected revenue loss for the 2001-02 and 2002-03 financial years because of that discrepancy.

(11) What is the policy justification for the differential tariff/tax rates between 4WD and passenger vehicles.

3842  Senator Brown: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Aged Care—With reference to the Government’s decision to reduce Medicare rebates by 50 per cent for psychiatric patients who need more than 50 visits per year to a psychiatrist, and the decision to similarly reduce rebates by half for that group of patients who qualify for item 319 (and related Medicare Benefits Schedule items) if they need ongoing intensive treatment in excess of 160 sessions per year:

(1) How does the Minister explain the continued existence of item 319 ( et al ) restrictions on treatment of severely-ill patients when the department has been given evidence by the National Association of Practising Psychiatrists as to the detrimental impact, clinically and economically, of these restrictions.

(2) How can the Minister justify a $15 million taxpayer-funded advertising campaign for private health insurance, when he has refused to rebate through Medicare patients who need more than one visit per week to their psychiatrist but who do not satisfy the conditions for item 319.

(3) Can the Minister explain what steps have been taken to overcome the anomaly that there is a significant group of psychiatric patients with severe disorders (eg. borderline personality disorder) who can only be maintained at a functioning level if seen 4 or 5 times per week for long-term treatment, but are financially penalised through a 50 per cent rebate reduction when the item 319 cap is effected.

(4) Is the Minister aware that the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists has indicated in its quality assurance projects that, for these types of patients, long-term intensive treatment has been cited as the treatment of choice.

(5) Can the Minister explain what steps have been taken to eliminate the financial burden for patients who require more than 160 sessions in one year.

(6) Will the Minister agree to review item 319 restrictions, given that the rationale for their introduction (to increase access to services) no longer holds, as shown by the overall decrease in attendances to psychiatrists since 1996.

(7) Will the department meet with the National Association of Practising Psychiatrists to discuss the concerns of patients and clinicians who are entrusted with their care.