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Table Of Contents
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- Start of Business
- CHILD SUPPORT LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 1994
HEALTH AND OTHER SERVICES (COMPENSATION) BILL 1994
HEALTH AND OTHER SERVICES (COMPENSATION) CARE CHARGES BILL 1994
HEALTH AND OTHER SERVICES (COMPENSATION) ADMINISTRATION FEE BILL 1994
HEALTH AND OTHER SERVICES (COMPENSATION) (CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENTS) BILL 1994
- HEALTH AND OTHER SERVICES (COMPENSATION) CARE CHARGES BILL 1994
- HEALTH AND OTHER SERVICES (COMPENSATION) ADMINISTRATION FEE BILL 1994
- HEALTH AND OTHER SERVICES (COMPENSATION) (CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENTS) BILL 1994
- CHILD SUPPORT LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 1994
- MINISTERIAL STATEMENTS
- MINISTERIAL STATEMENTS
- ASSENT TO BILLS
- Suspension of Standing and Sessional Orders
- Electoral System
- Brain Injury: Rehabilitation
- Drought: Women
- Australia Remembers
- Australian National Rail Yards: Site Contamination
- Road Transport Authority
- Farmers: Drought Assistance
- Kennett Government
- Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport
- Member for Wills
- University of Wollongong: Retirement of Vice-Chancellor
- Australian Beef Industry
- Parliament: Conduct of Members
- BILLS RETURNED FROM THE SENATE
- EMPLOYMENT SERVICES (CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENTS) BILL 1994
- STUDENT ASSISTANCE (YOUTH TRAINING ALLOWANCE) AMENDMENT BILL 1994
- STUDENT ASSISTANCE (YOUTH TRAINING ALLOWANCE—TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS AND CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENTS) BILL 1994
Friday, 9 December 1994
Mr VAILE (2.42 p.m.) —It is certainly a much appreciated gesture of the government to allow those of us who have missed out on the opportunity to speak in the adjournment debate during the past week or fortnight the opportunity to put a few things on the public record this afternoon. I want to address two issues in this adjournment debate. Firstly, I would like to put on record the concerns of an orchid grower within my electorate of Lyne, Mr John Wright of Coopernook. Mr Wright has serious concerns with the continued use of the chemical fungicide Benlate throughout Australia other than in South Australia.
The use of Benlate as a chemical fungicide has been the cause of widespread litigation in the United States of America and has been withdrawn from the market in South Australia due to damage caused to the flower growing industry in that state. One Florida newspaper has described the story of Benlate as a tale without equal in modern agriculture. Benlate is the trade name for a fungicide that is labelled for use on a wide range of fruit and vegetable crops and ornamental plants.
Benlate is manufactured by the multinational giant Dupont, and the wettable powder formulation came on to the market in 1969. In late 1987 Dupont replaced Benlate WP with an easier to mix granular formulation, Benlate DF. Both have been commonly used in Australia, and for many years Benlate was a staple for nursery growers to prevent fungal outbreaks. However, over the last few years, Benlate has been linked to health problems and to plant damage in the United States, England, New Zealand and Australia.
Since 1991 there has been a recognition that the product Benlate has produced deleterious effects in crops and that serious problems exist. The dry flowerable granular forms of the fungicide—Benlate 50DF, Benlate 1991 DF and Tersan 1991 DF—were removed from the market in the United States in March 1991 when Dupont issued a stop sale and recall on these products. This followed reports of stunted root and plant growth. Benlate DF was then recalled in Australia following notification in a press release dated 12 June 1991. However, the recall was not at all well publicised. Yet the wettable powder formulation, Benlate WP, is still on sale in Australia. However, there is evidence that this formulation has also caused problems in plants.
Mr John Wright of Coopernook claims it was the product Benlate that recently totally wiped out his orchid crop costing him in excess of $100,000. The history of Mr Wright's problem is an interesting one. He has made extensive representations to the New South Wales agriculture department and to Dupont Australia regarding this issue. So much so that at various times representatives from both organisations have visited Mr Wright's property to takes samples for testing.
I therefore have some serious concerns to raise in this debate. Why, in a letter dated 25 October 1992 from the National Registration Authority—the group that is supposed to monitor all chemical products in Australia—does it state:
In all states, except South Australia, no reports of plant damage have been received by departments of agriculture/ primary industries.
Mr Wright has had samples taken from his property by the New South Wales department of agriculture, yet it seems to have forgotten having visited his property. It is highly irregular that South Australia has been the only state in Australia that has been able to force Dupont Australia and the relevant department to withdraw Benlate from the market. I am sure the Attorney-General (Mr Lavarch) would agree with me that what is dangerous in one state must also be considered dangerous in another. Uniformity across the states of Australia is surely lacking here.
My next concern is with the testing arrangements for Benlate. I do not have a superior knowledge of herbicides, but I understand that Benlate is a promoter of sulfonel urea, which is a herbicide of sorts. Naturally, after finding out this information, Mr Wright wanted sulfonel urea tested out on his plants. However, just this week the New South Wales agriculture department has told him that it does not have the facilities to test it. This is very strange indeed.
There is yet another concern in this issue. I have here two newspaper articles from the Newcastle Morning Herald, one headlined `Avocado dip a recipe for longer life produce' and the other `Fruit chemical mistake admitted'. What happened was that a fellow in New South Wales agriculture department thought he had discovered another use for Benlate as a preserver for avocados. The five-member team claimed to have spent four years developing the technique and the federal Department of Primary Industries and Energy had applied to the New Zealand government to allow in exports using the new procedure. Yet in a following newspaper article, this same fellow is forced to admit he was wrong—that the chemical would actually seep through the skin and cause serious physical problems!
Yet another strange twist to this story is that when Mr Wright made his initial inquiries to Dupont Australia regarding Benlate, Dupont employed a consultant to speak with Mr Wright and take samples. This person just so happened to be the wife of the representative who thought he had come up with the miracle avocado dip for the New South Wales department of agriculture.
There are too many unanswered questions about the active ingredients of Benlate; there are too many unanswered questions surrounding the use of this chemical by Australian farmers; and there are too many unanswered questions about the role of certain individuals with what seems to be an ulterior motive for the protection of Benlate for this issue to simply rest. We need to see this issue investigated by the department of primary industries in a hope of achieving some uniform dangerous chemical practices throughout Australia. It is only then that individual businessmen, such as Mr Wright, who has suffered great personal expense and loss of income, will be protected in their horticultural endeavours.
The second issue I raise in this adjournment debate is totally unrelated to that of the chemical Benlate, but it is very important considering that in 1995 we are coming to the Australian celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the ending of the Second World War. I want to put on the public record what took place in my home town of Wingham on Remembrance Day a couple of weeks ago.
An important ceremony was held on Remembrance Day in November this year in final recognition for the young soldier from Wingham, Private Alan `Johnny' Wallis, who gave his life in Vietnam—the only native of Wingham on the mid-north coast of New South Wales to lose his life in that Vietnam conflict. The ceremony, which included 10 diggers from his section who fought alongside him, as well as members from the Manning District Vietnam Veterans Association, unveiled a plaque in his memory at the Wingham Town Hall.
Private Alan J. Wallis was killed in Vietnam on 16 May 1968—26 years ago. It has taken that long, as we have seen over the last couple of years, for the broader community in Australia to develop respect for those people that were involved in the Vietnam conflict. He is survived by his aunt, Vera Tisdell, and his nephew, Alan Bell, who both unveiled the plaque at the ceremony and accepted replicas of the young soldier's medals, as well as the Australian flag, which I presented to them on behalf of the Commonwealth.
His section commander, Bert `Shorty' Thirkell, gave a short tribute to the young soldier who died in the battle of Fire Support Base Coral. I might add at this point that none other than the Leader of the National Party of Australia (Mr Tim Fischer) was also involved as a Vietnam veteran in that battle. There were unashamedly few dry eyes among his old buddies. They had travelled from Sydney, Armidale and from up the coast to be there for the special occasion.
For a number of people, including local veteran Steve Pemberton, the unveiling of the plaque was a final farewell at the end of a long campaign and research to have recognition for the only solider from Wingham to die in the Vietnam War. Steve deserves to be congratulated for his efforts and the hours that he put into researching the story of Johnny Wallis.
For many of the veterans present, including Private Wallis's mates from 7 Section, 3 Platoon, 1RAR, the day was filled with memories of the sacrifices and the comradeship which no-one but those who went to Vietnam could understand. Special mention must also be made of Private Wallis's friend and digger mate Eric Edmonds. I understand Eric had been absolutely determined to be at the ceremony on Remembrance Day 1994, on that Friday. However, he unfortunately passed away in Concord Hospital on 28 October this year after his battle with cancer.
One of the Vietnam veterans at that short ceremony for Johnny Wallis told me about some of the ongoing statistics and the problems that are faced by Vietnam veterans today. I was handed a copy of Stand to, a bulletin put out by the Vietnam Veterans Association. An interesting paragraph in there stated:
The statistics from the Vietnam War are horrifying. Of the 50,000 troops who served in the theatre, 5,000 have died from "natural causes", over 4,000 have suicided, some 16,000 are being treated for varying disabilities, of these 16,000, a large number have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is a psychiatric disorder which is most distressing to wives and families and the members who have it. The veteran looks 100% but is in fact a very disturbed individual. In the last "Veterans Budget Review", the DVA set aside four foolscap pages alone on this matter.
Those statistics are very compelling as to the circumstances of a large percentage of the Vietnam veterans—those 50,000 soldiers who fought on behalf of the Australian community in Vietnam. (Time expired)