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Notice given 17 September 2001

3897  Senator Bourne: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) Is the Minister aware that on 8 June 2001 Prime Television ceased operation of its local television news services in three of Australia’s largest regional centres: Canberra, Wollongong and Newcastle.

(2) Does the Minister agree that the impact of the cessation of local news and information programming will deny these communities access to important news about their local communities, at a time when localised information is becoming increasingly valued by regional communities.

(3) Does the Minister agree that the cessation of local news services raises serious questions about the fitness of Prime Television to hold a television broadcasting licence, without condition.

(4) Will the Minister take decisive action and direct the Australian Broadcasting Authority to investigate the cessation of the production of local news and information programming in Canberra, Wollongong and Newcastle.

3898  Senator Schacht: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs—

(1) (a) Why did the department introduce a new system of funding for the Community Nursing Care Program in March 2001; (b) how does the department determine individual veterans’ clinical funding; and (c) what is the formula used to determine veteran funding.

(2) Why has the department moved away from basing its community nursing funding from fifth year registered nurses.

(3) How many veterans use the Community Nursing Care Program.

(4) Is the Government aware of the considerable concern exhibited by the nursing providers that they can no longer maintain their relevant state awards, employer statutory obligations and adequate service to veterans due to the change in funding arrangements.

(5) How many veterans have been transferred to alternate providers or forced into residential placement following funding decisions that have been deemed inadequate by nursing providers since March 2001.

(6) Why has the Exceptional Case Unit that determines the level of funding for veterans who have exceptional clinical needs been removed from the direction of an independent body and returned to the internal direction of the department.

(7) (a) What proportion of the department’s budget for community nursing goes into real health; and (b) what proportion goes into the auditing and administering of these services.

(8) Why has the Government added clause 2, section 2 into the contract for community nursing providers about the restriction of free speech.

(9) With reference to documents: Guidelines for the Provision of Community Nursing Care, April 2001 (Schedule of fees for community nursing providers: Section 5.5, Part 2) and Guidelines for the Provision of Community Nursing Care, November 1997 (booklet 7, Schedule of fees), which identify reductions in the initial funding offered for veteran patients: (a) Does the Government explain this reduction by the fact it has removed the medical supply packages from the funding offered to the nursing providers; and (b) can the Government confirm that the veterans now pay this cost.

(10) (a) How much funding is going into multiple assessments of veterans to continually prove their clinical needs so they can receive ongoing funding for nursing services; and (b) can the Government confirm that much of this multiple assessment of veterans is cost shifted to Aged Care and to state health services budgets.

(11) Can the Government explain clause 2.2 in section 3 of the contract for the nursing providers that a shower two-to-three times a week is sufficient as frequent showering can affect skin integrity and cause fatigue.

(12) By what means can the Government ensure that the new contract and funding arrangement is providing adequate services to veterans.