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Notice given 13 September 2002

628  Senator McLucas: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry—

(1) How many applications for exceptional circumstances (EC) declarations have been lodged since 1996.

(2) How many applications have resulted in EC declarations.

(3) With respect to EC declarations, can the following information be provided: (a) the source of the applications (state government or peak body); (b) the geographic regions or industries concerned; (c) the dates on which the applications were lodged; and (d) the dates on which the declarations were made.

(4) Were any EC declarations made concerning geographic regions contained wholly or partly within the electorates of Gwydir or Wide Bay.

(5) With respect to unsuccessful applications, can the following information be provided: (a) the source of the applications (state government or peak body); (b) the geographic regions or industries concerned; (c) the dates on which the applications were lodged; and (d) the dates on which the decisions to refuse the declarations were made.

(6) Of the unsuccessful applications, were any made concerning geographic regions contained wholly or partly within the electorates of Gwydir or Wide Bay.

(7) With respect to all unsuccessful applications, has the Government provided other special assistance, including ex gratia income support, to the regions or industries identified in the applications.

(8) Was any such special assistance given to geographic regions contained wholly or partly within the electorates of Gwydir or Wide Bay.

(9) Have there been any occasions since 1996 in which the Government has not accepted the recommendation of the Rural Adjustment Scheme Advisory Council (RASAC) or the National Rural Advisory Council (NRAC) in respect to EC applications; if so, can details of these occasions and the applications concerned be provided.

(10) Have there been any occasions since 1996 in which EC applications have not been subject to an independent assessment by the RASAC or NRAC; if so, can details of these occasions and the applications concerned be provided.

(11) In the case of each EC declaration: (a) what was the income threshold used; (b) did all applications meet the income threshold criterion; if not, can details be provided where applications for an EC declaration were made despite the income threshold not being met; and (c) for each of these applications: (i) what was the income level identified in the application, and (ii) what was the applicable income threshold.

629  Senator Bishop: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Veterans' Affairs—With reference to the answer to question on notice no. 463:

(1) What is the department’s estimate, based on surveying its state offices, of the proportion of reimbursements made to veterans and widows because of the refusal of doctors to accept the Gold Card.

(2) Has the department sought to reissue Medicare cards; if so, in how many cases.

(3) (a) In how many cases has the department reimbursed veterans the Commonwealth Medical Benefits Schedule payment, plus any co-payment, regardless of the reason for the reimbursement; and (b) what were the reasons in each case.

(4) (a) On how many occasions in 2002 has the Repatriation Commission formally considered the need to approve ‘exceptional circumstances’ as set out in paragraph 3.5.1 of the Treatment Principles; and (b) what specific ‘exceptional circumstances’ have been approved.

(5) On a monthly basis, what is the value of reimbursements made since 1 July 2001.

630  Senator Bishop: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Veterans' Affairs—With reference to the answer to question on notice no. 459 (Senate Hansard , 29 August 2002, p. 3787):

(1) What provision was made in the department’s forward estimates for increases to the Commonwealth Medical Benefits Schedule.

(2) What contingency plans have been put in place in the event that doctors cease to be bound by their agreement and refuse to accept the Gold Card.

(3) Can the Minister confirm that an inter-departmental committee chaired by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has been established to progress the Government’s consideration of the matter; if so: (a) what is the membership of that committee; and (b) when will it report.

(4) Has consideration been given to an extension of the agreement with the Australian Medical Association (AMA) pending settlement of this issue.

(5) Is the Minister aware of the results of a survey conducted by the AMA that, of 1 409 doctors surveyed, 41 per cent have responded that they will no longer accept the Gold Card if fees are not increased.

(6) (a) How many veterans and widows have contacted the department, by telephone or in writing, in the past 3 months on this matter; and (b) of those, how many have been seeking assistance with finding another doctor.

(7) In the event that alternative doctors are found, will travel costs be reimbursed.

(8) How many: (a) local medical officers (LMOs); and (b) hospitals, do not accept the Gold Card for treatment outside normal surgery hours.

(9) In the event that veterans are treated by after-hours clinics that do not accept the Gold Card, is reimbursement made of the full fee charged.

(10) In the event that prescriptions are issued by LMOs or others, what provision exists for reimbursement where the script is for a non-approved drug.

631  Senator Bishop: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Veterans' Affairs—During each of the past 5 years: (a) what grants have been made under each of the department’s grants programs, by postcode; (b) what was the value of each grant; and (c) what was the purpose of each grant.