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Notice given 22 October 2002

*821  Senator Hutchins: To ask the Minister for Finance and Administration—Does the Government have any plans or strategies in place to strategically relocate any agencies, departments or buildings to provide jobs for regions in need of them; if so: (a) would the Minister class the Central Coast region of New South Wales as one that is in need of the sort of jobs boost that could be achieved by relocating a Federal Government agency, department or building; and (b) can details be provided of any plans or strategies that may be in place to relocate any agencies, departments or buildings to the Central Coast to provide much needed jobs and a boost to the region’s economy.

*822  Senator Bishop: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs—

(1) Can the Minister confirm that veterans and war widows requiring transport to medical appointments are now required to order their own taxis, pay for them, and then seek reimbursement from the department; if so: (a) when was this new policy announced; (b) does it operate in all states; (c) is it part of the tender exercise conducted for new transport providers; (d) what savings are estimated from the new procedure; (e) for each state, what is the current average reimbursement time for such claims; (f) what evidence that the travel was legitimate is required prior to reimbursement; (g) what administrative costs have been incurred by the department; (h) for each state, how many complaints from veterans and widows have been received since the introduction of the new scheme; and (i) does the policy apply to hospital visits.

(2) Did the Minister issue a media release advising veterans of the matter; if not, why not.

(3) Did the Minister write to all veterans advising them of the new arrangements; if not, why not.

(4) (a) For each state, in how many cases have veterans or war widows required transport to travel further to a new treating doctor where their original doctor no longer accepts the Gold Card; and (b) at what cost.

(5) (a) On how many occasions in the past 6 months have veterans been required to visit a different treating specialist than usual; (b) what additional travel was required; and (c) at what cost.

(6) Is the policy a result of the recent tender process; if so, who were the winning tenderers, by state, and by federal electorate.