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Tuesday, 23 August 1983
Page: 90

Question No. 123


Dr Klugman asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 11 May 1983:

(1) Is it a fact that the recently established high-security quarantine unit and high-security laboratory at the Fairfield Hospital, Melbourne, cost about $ 3m, that is, about 2 per cent of that of the likely final cost of the Australian National Animal Health Laboratory (ANAHL).

(2) What are the functions of the facilities at Fairfield Hospital.

(3) Is it a fact that diagnosis of exotic viruses, such as Lassa, Ebola and Rift Valley fever, will be done at Fairfield without importing live viruses, using only inactivated reagents obtained from overseas laboratories.

(4) Is it also a fact that the ANAHL wishes to import live Rift Valley fever viruses; if so, why.

(5) Has CSIRO submitted a list of exotic viruses for importation in 1983-84; if so, what (a) viruses are listed and (b) reasons have been given for justifying each importation.

(6) What diagnostic reagents for vesicular diseases of animals, and related pathogens, have been imported into Australia under licence.

(7) Where are these reagents held, and for what purposes.


Dr Blewett —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) The National High Security Quarantine Unit plus the associated high security laboratory had cost an estimated $3.08m at the time it was officially opened in November 1982. This figure is a little under 2 per cent of the cost of ANAHL of $155m as at March 1983.

(2) The functions of the facilities at Fairfield are to provide a national reference centre for the treatment of quarantine cases which cannot be safely or satisfactorily treated in existing State hospital facilities. The design incorporates the latest technology in the provision of microbiological security.

(3) Yes.

(4) I understand that ANAHL wishes to import live Rift Valley fever viruses. However, I am advised that no decisions, have been made by the CSIRO Executive, nor has CSIRO lodged applications with my Department for the import of live exotic pathogens for use at ANAHL.

(5) No.

(6) Antisera to foot and mouth disease types A, O, C, SAT1, SAT2, SAT3, and ASIA1 were imported under specified conditions in 1964 from the Animal Virus Research Institute, Pirbright, United Kingdom into the CSIRO Animal Health Laboratory at Parkville. They were to replace sera previously held at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Melbourne. They were held frozen under lock and key for use in emergency. They were never used.

(7) The antisera were destroyed by autoclaving and incineration in 1980.