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Notice given 15 January 2007

2960  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing—

(1) Why did the Prime Minister’s recent announcement of rebates for bone mineral density scans exclude rebates for people under the age of 70 when osteoporosis typically occurs in women much earlier, at about the time of menopause.

(2) What preventive measures has the Government adopted for osteoporosis, given that it is largely preventable through weight bearing exercise and calcium supplements.

(3) (a) Why did the Government take calcium off the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for osteoporosis; and (b) was this against the advice of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.

(4) Has the Government considered providing blood vitamin D testing given the evidence that the high rate of hip fractures in old people is due to deficiencies in calcium and vitamin D.

(5) Does the Government accept that people in wheelchairs are unable to do weight bearing exercise and warrant earlier access to bone mineral density scans; if so, will rebates be provided for such people.

(6) What was the rationale for limiting the Medicare rebate on bone mineral density scans at minimum intervals of 2 years.

2963  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General—With reference to the evidentiary provisions which are to apply in the forthcoming trial of Mr David Hicks under the newly constituted Military Commissions Act (2006) of the United States of America’s (US):

(1) Does the Attorney-General understand that Mr Hicks will face charges before the newly constituted Military Commission that are similar to those made in June 2004.


 (2) Can the Attorney-General confirm that, under the Military Commissions Act, statements made by Mr Hicks and obtained by cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment before 30 December 2005 will not be automatically excluded from evidence by the commission; if so, does the Attorney-General consider that such evidence is in accordance with Article 16 of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which both the US and Australia are party; if not, why not.

(3) What does the Attorney-General understand to be the reason for this time-related qualification on admissible evidence, given that the decision by the US Supreme Court in Hamdan vs Rumfeld in June 2006, determined that presidential appointments of military commissions were illegal and that lawfully appointed commissions would have needed to comply with common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.

(4) Can the Attorney-General confirm that if Mr Hicks were to have been charged before a US court-martial such evidence would be inadmissible.

(5) Has the Australian Government made representation to the US Government requesting: (a) that Mr Hicks be tried by court martial; if not, why not; and (b) through regulation or instruction, that no statement by Mr Hicks obtained by cruel, inhuman or degrading conduct, whether before or after 30 December 2005, will be admissible in the proposed commission; if not, why not.