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Notice given 13 February 2008

17  Leader of the Australian Democrats (Senator Allison): To move—That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) among Indigenous Australians, blindness and visual impairment is significantly higher than in other populations,

(ii) most blindness and vision loss is preventable or correctable and for each $1 spent on eye care there is a $5 return,

(iii) trachoma is the most common cause of infectious blindness and Australia is the only developed country that still has blinding endemic trachoma:

( a ) the study Surveillance report for active trachoma, 2006 for which Aboriginal children from most regions of the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia were screened, showed prevalence rates of active trachoma of 16 per cent in rural Darwin, 30 per cent in Katherine, 21 per cent in Barkly, 18 per cent in Alice Springs Remote, 18 per cent in Nganampa, 18 per cent in Tullawon, 12 per cent in Pika Wiya, 18 per cent in Kimberley, 53 per cent in Pilbara, and 19 per cent in Western Austalia’s midwest and goldfields,

( b ) rates of active trachoma are highest in young children and for children aged 0-5 who were for the most part not included in the survey and therefore rates could be expected to be higher,

( c ) concerted trachoma control activities over the past 10 years have eliminated active trachoma in Morocco, Oman and Iran, and

( d ) even in Niger, the poorest country in Africa, trachoma is being controlled by an active intervention program,

(iv) cataracts occur more commonly in Aboriginal people, and Indigenous Australians report vision loss from cataracts 50 per cent more commonly than mainstream Australia, and

(v) few Aboriginal people have access to refractive services, although 20 per cent of all children need glasses and there is an almost universal need for reading glasses over the age of 40;

(b) according to the Centre for Eye Research Australia, trachoma can be eliminated in Australia, vision loss substantially reduced and equality in eye health for all Australians achieved within 5 years; and

(c) urges the Government to provide $25 million over 5 years for:

(i) antibiotics for active trachoma, screening and programs promoting facial cleanliness, environmental improvement and trichiasis surgery for later stage trachoma to prevent irreversible blindness,

(ii) sustainable programs for screening for diabetic retinopathy and timely laser treatment,

(iii) regular eye examinations, and

(iv) current eye health data.

18  Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Minchin): To move—That the Senate—

(a) notes:

(i) the contempt in which the Australian Labor Party (ALP) has historically held upper houses around the country, including a platform to abolish all upper houses until 1979, the abolition of the upper house in Queensland and a current policy to abolish the South Australian Legislative Council,

(ii) that the Prime Minister (Mr Rudd) has reduced the number of sitting weeks in the Senate in 2008, and

(iii) that the Deputy Prime Minister (Ms Gillard) has already demanded legislation be passed without adequate scrutiny in the Senate; and

(b) given the above, condemns the Rudd Labor Government for continuing the ALP’s legacy of inherent contempt for the Senate.