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Notice given 28 April 2003

*1413  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister—With reference to families living in Picola, Victoria, who wish to send their children to school in Echuca but who, because the most direct bus route to Echuca traverses New South Wales, are not entitled to the discounted fares available to students in Victoria through the Victorian State Government’s school bus services:

(1) Has the Government considered making provision for the Country Areas Program funding to be used by schools to replace subsidies not paid to families to help them transport their children to school because of state border issues like the case of families living in Picola.

(2) Has this matter, or any matter like this, been referred to the Cross Borders Anomalies Committee: if so, what transpired; if not, why not.

*1414  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Education, Science and Training—With reference to families living in Picola, Victoria, who wish to send their children to school in Echuca but who, because the most direct bus route to Echuca traverses New South Wales, are not entitled to the discounted fares available to students in Victoria through the Victorian State Government’s school bus services:

(1) Has the matter of these families been referred to the Cross Borders Anomalies Committee; if so, what transpired; if not, why not.

(2) Has the Minister made representations to the Victorian State Government on this issue.

(3) What is the Federal Government doing to ensure that students who have to cross borders are not disadvantaged in accessing education.

*1415  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Defence—

(1) Given that Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, reportedly would not allow the World Health Organization (WHO) to carry out an independent assessment of the effects of depleted uranium used in the Gulf War, has the Government urged the United States of America Administration and the WHO to do so now that the attack on Iraq is over; if not, why not.

(2) Will the Government press for studies to determine if depleted uranium may be moving through the ground and could contaminate local water supplies as suggested by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); if not, why not.

(3) Is the Government aware of the British Royal Society’s report, The health hazards of depleted uranium munitions, 2002 , which indicates that localised areas of depleted uranium contamination pose a risk, particularly to young children, and should be cleared up as a priority.

(4) Will the Government press for environmental sampling of affected areas in Iraq and any necessary clean-up; if not, why not.

(5) Is the Government aware that UNEP has indicated that an immediate study in Iraq would give a much better understanding of how depleted uranium behaves in the environment than studies done some years after depleted uranium was used in Yugoslavia and the Gulf.

(6) Is the Government aware of research published in Military Medicine , vol. 167, p. 120 , which indicates that: (a) the radiological effects of depleted uranium are not clear; (b) the risk from low-dose radiation cannot necessarily be extrapolated from tests using higher doses; (c) the relationship between dose and effect is not linear, meaning that low radiation may be having subtle effects that go unnoticed because cells are not dying; (d) radiation from depleted uranium damages chromosomes within cultured cells; (e) depleted uranium radiation increases gene activity in cultured cells at doses of depleted uranium not known to cause chemical toxicity; and (f) the possible consequences are made all the more uncertain because no-one knows if genes switched on by depleted uranium radiation enhance the damage caused by genes switched on by depleted uranium’s toxic effects, or vice versa.

(7) Is the Government aware of research at the Bremen Institute for Prevention Research, Social Medicine and Epidemiology in Germany, which published results from tests in which blood samples from 16 soldiers who inhaled depleted uranium particles in battle showed that broken strands of DNA chromosomes in veterans occurred at five times the rate of the control group ( Radiation Protection Dosimetry , vol. 103, p. 211) and that increased chromosomal aberrations are associated with an increased incidence of cancers.

(8) Have Australian troops exposed to depleted uranium been, or will they be, tested for chromosomal aberration on their return from Iraq; if not, why not.