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Notice given 7 March 2002

166  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) When does Telstra expect to install a full telephone service that will allow answer phone and message bank facilities and internet connection, etc. for the Kurungal Aboriginal Council in the West Kimberley region of Western Australia.

(2) Given that the application was made for a telephone connection on 4 December 2001, what is the reason for the delay.

(3) Is it the case that an ‘interim service’ was supplied on 1 March 2002, as promised; if not, why not.

(4) What compensation is payable for this delay in telephone service connection.

167  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—Does the Government intend to continue the current price control arrangements for Telstra beyond the end of June 2002 when they are due to expire; if not, why not; if so, what will be the price cap for household land lines.

168  Senator Brown: To ask the Minister for Health and Ageing—With reference to answer to question on notice no. 2558 (Senate Hansard , 9 November 2000, p.19650):

(1) Which premises at Ridgley are being used for the University of Tasmania’s experiments.

(2) If they are not university premises: (a) whose are they; and (b) what is the role of the landlord in the experiments.

(3) When did the Ridgley experiment begin and who are the principals.

(4) What is the difference between these experiments, involving genes from Agrobacterium rhizogenes , and those being conducted by Monash University.

(5) How much has the Commonwealth contributed to each of the three sets of experiments listed in the answer to part (a) of question on notice no. 2558.

(6) Are there no expectations or plans to conduct field trials by Monash University, the University of Tasmania or the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation; if there are, what are the expectations or plans.

170  Senator Brown: To ask the Minister for Health and Ageing—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.

171  Senator Brown: To ask the Minister for Defence—Further to Senator Brown’s question on notice no. 3861 (Senate Notice Paper , 30 August 2001, p.23):

(1) (a) When was the last engagement in which RAAF pilots were involved in low-level flying attacks; and (b) does the Minister anticipate that such flying will be used in future engagements with a sophisticated and well-equipped enemy; if so, can the Minister explain the advantages of this form of use of RAAF craft; if not, can the Minister explain why training in this form of aircraft use is still being undertaken at the Salt Ash air weapons range.

(2) Can the Minister explain why there have been no compensation packages or noise attenuation packages, or even a noise amelioration plan offered to communities which are adversely affected by the RAAF operations at the Salt Ash air weapons range.

(3) Can the Minister explain why the RAAF base at Williamtown has no dedicated Community Liaison Officer and why there are no lines of direct communication between the RAAF base and the general public.

172  Senator Brown: To ask the Minister for Finance and Administration—With reference to the proposed development by the Catholic Education Office of Xavier College High School on approximately 6 hectares of land excised from the north-western sector of the former ADI site lands, adjacent to Llandilo, New South Wales: Is this land presently owned by the Catholic Church; if so, when and on what terms did the Catholic Church acquire this land from the Commonwealth.

173  Senator Brown: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade—

(1) Is Australia discussing or negotiating a free trade agreement with Thailand.

(2) When did discussions begin and what is the timetable for completion.

(3) Who is conducting the discussions on behalf of Australia and who on behalf of Thailand.

(4) What is the scope of the proposed agreement, including the types of products and services that would be covered, the time period, any exclusions, and any related arrangements.

(5) (a) What advantages and disadvantages does such an agreement offer Australia; and (b) what advantages and disadvantages does it offer Thailand.

174  Senator Brown: To ask the Minister for Forestry and Conservation—With reference to government and industry sources that have recently asserted that more than 8 000 Tasmanians are directly employed in the forest industry: (a) What is the correct figure; and (b) please provide a breakdown showing how many are employed in: (i) Forestry Tasmania; (ii) logging of native forests and of plantations; (iii) planting; (iv) maintenance; (v) transport by road; (vi) other modes of transport; (vii) sawmills; (viii) woodchip mills; (ix) export facilities (please specify); (x) manufacturing involving wood products only; (xi) manufacturing involving wood and other materials; (xii) tourism, recreation, education etc; and (xiii) other (please specify).