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Notice given 8 July 2003

1603  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Health and Ageing—

(1) Is the Medicare Processing Centre in Brisbane, Queensland, to close with all 113 jobs transferred to New South Wales; if so, what is the rationale for this decision.

(2) Was a cost-benefit analysis conducted for the proposed move; if so, can a copy be provided.

(3) What is the cost of redundancy payments that would be necessary for workers in the Brisbane centre.

(4) Which, if any, other Medicare Processing Centres are to be transferred elsewhere; and (b) can details of these transfers be provided.

1604  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Health and Ageing—

(1) Is the Government aware of statements made recently by Dr Thomas Jefferson, a board member of the European research program for improved vaccine safety surveillance, criticising safety studies on childhood vaccines, viz, ‘There is some good research, but it is overwhelmed by the bad. The public has been let down because proper studies have not been done.’

(2) What research into vaccine safety is conducted in Australia.

(3) Is the Government satisfied that vaccine safety research conducted in Australia and elsewhere is adequate; if so, why.

(4) (a) Can data be provided on the apparent rise in auto-immune diseases in Australian children; and (b) what research is being carried out as to its cause.

(5) Under what circumstances are adverse reactions to vaccines required to be reported by health professionals.

(6) Has the Government considered requiring all health professionals to report adverse reactions to vaccines when they occur; if not, why not.

1605  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Health and Ageing—What are the implications for Australia of the British Government-commissioned report from the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment Working Group on Phytoestrogens in 2002 and the evaluation of that report by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, which states at page 13 that, ‘Based on the evidence cited, SACN is in agreement that the use of soy-based infant formulae is of concern. While there is clear evidence of potential risk, there is no evidence that these products confer any health benefit … The issue appears to be one of consumer choice, but there must be an onus on industry to better uniform the general public, and secondly through a health professional, parents actually using these products to feed their infants … SACN considered that there is cause for concern about the use of soy-based infant formula. Additionally, there is neither substantive medical need for, nor health benefit arising from, the use of soy-based infant formulae.’

1606  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry—

(1) What was the quantum of funding provided to the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) by the department for each of the following financial years: (a) 1997-98; (b) 1998-99; (c) 1999-2000; (d) 2000-01; (e) 2001-02; and (f) 2002-03.

(2) What was the quantum of funding provided by the GRDC to the Gene Technology Grains Council (GTGC) for each of the financial years mentioned in (1).

(3) What role does the department or the GRDC play in the selection of members to the GTGC.

(4) In what way is the GRDC accountable to the Minister for expenditure made to the GTGC.

(5) Can a synopsis be provided for each GTGC member, including: (a) full name; (b) details of formal qualifications; (c) details of current industry experience and employment; (d) details of past industry experience and employment; (e) details of the process of selection; and (f) term of membership.

(6) Are members of the GTGC required to disclose their financial interests to the Government as a means of preventing any perception of a conflict of interest; if so, can a copy of the current register of interests be supplied; if not, why not.