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Wednesday, 16 March 1966

Mr JEFF BATE (Macarthur) .- I support the remarks made by the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Bridges-

Maxwell) and the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Irwin). The honorable member for Robertson has been the very distinguished secretary of the Sydney University Poultry Industry Research Foundation. He has a profound knowledge of the poultry industry and is well qualified to advise the Parliament and the people of Australia on this matter. Newcastle disease has broken out on three Victorian farms. The disease, therefore, is common to both Victoria and New South Wales. Section 92 of the Australian Constitution provides that trade, intercourse and commerce between the States shall be absolutely free. The word " absolutely " has a tremendously wide coverage. But here is a case in which the application of any restriction under this section of the Constitution is complete nonsense because the disease is common to both Victoria and New South Wales.

I understand that the Health Departments of the States have agreed that quarantine restrictions on the interstate movement of commodities should be invoked where necessary. The Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) who is at the table might remember a restriction that was placed some time ago on the movement of certain agricultural products between the States. I seem to remember that he was involved on one occasion in moving produce across the line. I think he got the goods through.

Mr Cope - Was it contraband?

Mr JEFF BATE - No. The article in question contained vitamin C in great quantities.

If Newcastle disease is common to both States and the Victorian Government invokes quarantine or other restrictions to prevent trade, intercourse and commerce between the States, it is prostituting the provisions of section 92 of the Constitution. Section 92 was placed in the Constitution by the founders to make sure that there should be free access between the States. How can the Victorian Government sustain a restriction against imports from New South Wales of meat chickens, eggs, poultry and so on if Victoria has the same disease as has been alleged to have been found in New South Wales? This restriction will also cause heavy damage to Victorian producers because, as the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Bridges-Maxwell) has said, 13 million meat chickens or day old chickens are imported into Victoria to be fed and bred and grown in that State. In other words 13 million out of 14 million-

Mr Nixon - Not now.

Mr JEFF BATE - The honorable member for Gippsland says: " Not now." 1 do not know how his chickens are getting on or whether or not they are coming home to roost. This restriction at the border will inflict a heavy burden upon Victorian producers as well as upon New South Wales producers who now have their cold stores chock full of meat chickens. They have hundreds of thousands, or millions, of birds growing for this market. They have day old chickens ready for the market. A representative of the firm of A. A. Tegel Pty. Ltd. of Camden toured the world getting facts about the best methods of growing a good meat chicken. The firm will now be debarred from sending chickens to Victoria. It has day old chickens ready for despatch but they cannot go there. This represents a serious hold up in the industry, and I appeal to the Victorian Government to do something about the matter.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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