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Notice given 30 April 2008

424  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research—Has a decision yet been made to increase the levy on the import and sale of new refrigerant to cope with the increasing volume now required to be reclaimed; if so, what was that decision.

425  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs—

(1) Given that the provision of family planning services will be fundamental to the achievement of a number of the Millennium Development Goals, particularly goals MDGs 4 and 5: (a) what percentage of AusAID funding is spent specifically on family planning activities; (b) what percentage of family planning activity spending is spent on: (i) education, (ii) service delivery, and (iii) contraceptive supply; (c) what type of contraceptive methods were provided with AusAID funding in the last reporting period; and (d) what percentage of AusAID funding is spent on reproductive health in general, including HIV/AIDs.

(2) How does current expenditure on family planning activities compare, in real percentage terms, to expenditure prior to the introduction of the AusAID Family Planning Guidelines.

Senator Allison: To ask the Ministers listed below (Question Nos 426-427)—With reference to: (a) the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 and the requirement under regulation 5H(2) that abortifacients, including mifepristone, misoprostol and prostaglandins, require the approval of the Secretary to the department for importation under the Special Access Scheme (SAS) by a medical practitioner who forms the view that his or her patient meets the Category A definition in regulation 12A(5) of the Therapeutic Goods Regulations 1990 as ‘a person who is seriously ill with a condition from which death is reasonably likely’; and (b) the fact that a doctor only needs to notify the Therapeutic Goods Administration of intention to import an unapproved drug for a Category A patient, other than those on the restricted list, and is not required to lodge an application or obtain approval:

(1) Given the many clinical trials now being conducted worldwide into mifepristone and the growing evidence of the usefulness of this drug in treating medical conditions, including viral infections, such as tumorigenisis, immunodeficiency conditions and hepatitis C, chlamydia pneumonia, cancers, including gynaecological cancers that are hormone receptive tumors, leukaemia and breast cancer, Cushing’s Syndrome, depressive and post traumatic stress disorders, Alzheimer’s Disease and adverse reactions from the use of corticosteroids, why do these substances continue to be listed as ‘restricted goods’.

(2) What does the Government understand to be the health risk associated with the use of mifepristone in these trials or for use by patients under the SAS.

(3) How does this risk compare with the risk of death from serious illness such as is required for access under the SAS.

(4) Given the fact that the Government accepts no responsibility for the use of any unapproved drug, even one which has been used for more than two decades around the world, what is the imperative for making abortifacient drugs ‘restricted’.

(5) What is the process for removing a ‘restricted goods’ listing.

(6) When will this be done for: (a) mifepristone; (b) misoprostol; and (c) prostaglandins.

426 Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing

427 Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs ( transferred to the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing on 6 May 2008 )

428  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government—

(1) Does the Government consider it necessary for a complete, nationwide overhaul of the railway system.

(2) Would such an overhaul include the modernisation of all of the system’s aspects, including high speed trains and punctual services, climatised passenger carriages, speedy freight delivery and a shift of trucks off the roads on long haul, comfortable, fast journeys for passengers travelling between major towns and cities, modernised stations to be more like airports and managed by people rather than machines and telephone or internet booking of seats and automatic ticketing, as occurs in Europe; if so, what is the Government’s program for doing so; if not, why not.

(3) Is the Minister aware that the passenger train from Sydney to Canberra still has wooden carriages dating from the steam train era.

(4) Does the Minister consider the Sydney to Canberra service to be satisfactory.

(5) To what extent does the Minister consider the lack of passengers to be due to the standard of services provided on this service and other interstate lines in Australia.

(6) How does this service and other interstate services compare with train services between major cities in other countries, such as France and Italy.

429  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry ( transferred to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs on 5 May 2008 )—

(1) Is it the case that Australia, along with Canada and the United States of America, refused to sign or adopt the final report of the United Nations International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development, released in April 2008; if so, why.

(2) Does the report, produced by more than 400 of the world’s leading scientists, call for a fundamental change in farming practices in order to address soaring food prices, hunger, social inequities and environmental disaster.


 (3) Does the report find that industrial agriculture has failed and that genetically-engineered crops are no solution to the problems of poverty, hunger or climate change.

(4) Does the report: (a) recommend small-scale farming and agro-ecological methods as the way forward in solving the current food crisis and meeting the needs of local communities; (b) state that Indigenous and local knowledge play as important a role as formal science; and (c) state that a significant departure from the destructive chemical-dependent, one size fits all model of industrial agriculture is needed.

(5) What, specifically, is it in this report that the Government disagrees with and why.

430  Senator Bob Brown: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts—With reference to the answer to question on notice no. 6, is there a facility in Australia capable of treating hexacholorobenzene waste; if so: (a) where is it; and (b) what is its capability.