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Notice given 7 October 2003

2185  Senator Hutchins: To ask the Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads—With reference to the Halcombe Hill section of the New England Highway and in particular, the railway overpass bridge, approximately 3 kilometres north of Aberdeen and 10 kilometres south of Scone:

(1) How many accidents have there been along this stretch of road since September 1997, including the recent fatal accident that occurred on Wednesday, 1 October 2003.

(2) How many fatalities and serious injuries have occurred as a result of accidents along this section of road since September 1997, including the four fatalities that occurred on Wednesday, 1 October 2003.

(3) Has the Commonwealth provided any funding for any projects along this stretch of road since 1996; if so: (a) what was the cost and nature of the projects undertaken; and (b) have any such projects been completed and if so, when.

(4) Does the Commonwealth have any plans to fund any new projects along the Halcombe Hill section of the highway that might rectify it as a safety blackspot; if not, why not; if so (a) what is the cost and nature of the project(s); and (b) when will the project(s) be completed.

2186  Senator Lundy: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing—

(1) At what rate are Australian children currently being formally diagnosed with an autistic disorder.

(2) At what rate are Australian children currently being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.

(3) Are the rates of diagnosis higher than was previously observed for: (a) an autistic disorder; (b) Asperger’s Syndrome; and (c) pervasive developmental disorders/Autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

(4) Is Professor Fiona Stanley, Australian of the Year and a senior epidemiologist, correct about the existence of an epidemic of autism; if so: (a) what is the extent of the epidemic; (b) is the Government concerned about this epidemic; and (c) what action is the Government taking in relation to the increasing numbers of ASD diagnoses among Australian children.

(5) Given that information from authoritative sources in the United States, that outcomes for children with (untreated) Autism are especially poor; and the findings of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) that: ‘Available follow-up studies suggest that only a small percentage of individuals with the disorder go on as adults to live and work independently. In about one-third of cases, some degree of partial independence is possible. The highest functioning adults with Autistic Disorder typically continue to exhibit problems in social interaction and communication along with markedly restricted interests and activities.’(p.73); and given that the United States Senate reported that ‘Three quarters of those with autism spend their adult lives in institutions or group homes, and usually enter institutions by the age of 13’; does a similar situation exist in Australia.

(6) What proportion of Australian adults with autism live independently.

(7) What proportion of Australians with autism work independently.

(8) How many, or what proportion of, Australian children aged 13 years or older with autism spend on average one or more nights per week in care or away from their family home: (a) is the level of unmet need for this type of service measured and reported; if so, how is it measured; and (b) what is the observed level of unmet need.

(9) What other long-term outcomes are observed or reported for Australians with Autism.

(10) What specific treatment do Australians with autism receive for their disorder.

2187  Senator Lundy: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts—

(1) Does Telstra make the telephone numbers of public pay phones available to the public; if not, why not.

(2) Does Telstra give its customers a choice of receiving their annual copies of the ‘White Pages’ and ‘Yellow Pages’ telephone directories on a ‘CD-ROM’, rather than in a hard-copy ‘phone book’ format; if not, why not.

2188  Senator Lundy: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Citizenship Multicultural Affairs—Does the department still provide ‘miniature evidentiary certificates’, that is, the credit card sized identification cards containing information equivalent to that of a naturalisation certificate, to naturalised Australians; if not, is the department considering re-introducing such a card as a convenient, portable alternative for the A4-sized naturalisation certificates; if not, why not.