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Wednesday, 27 May 1987
Page: 3402

Mr IAN CAMERON —I would just like to inform my friend Bob that, after 11 July, not only will there be no consumption tax; there will be no capital gains tax, fringe benefits tax or assets test. Under the new Sinclair-Howard government--

Madam SPEAKER —Order! Is the honourable member asking a question or making a speech?

Mr IAN CAMERON —I would like to refer to more mundane but more important matters, such as chook diseases. I ask the Minister for Primary Industry: What action has been taken to ensure that there is no repeat of last month's breach at the top security Australian Animal Health Laboratory at Geelong when an employee became accidentally contaminated with Newcastle disease virus? Why did established emergency procedures fail to ensure that the employee was not totally free of the virus before re-entering the community? What assurances can the Minister give poultry producers that this dangerous virus has now been contained, and why has there still been no formal advice of the incident to the industry? I also ask: Should there be an outbreak of disease as a result of this or similar incidents, what compensation arrangements for stock owners would apply if there was a mass slaughter of stock?

Mr KERIN —First, I would like to say that the accident happened inside a cool room in the secure area. The microsecurity systems of the laboratory ensured that there was no danger to the outside environment. Since the AAHL staff are not allowed contact with birds outside the laboratory, there was no danger of the virus spreading to poultry or other birds. The virus can live only inside a chook. Although the safety precautions were effective, the AAHL board of management met on 4 May to consider a detailed report on the incident and asked the laboratory's independent security assessment group to review the incident and report as a matter of urgency on any changes in security procedures that may be required. The security assessment group met on 13 and 14 May and will present its report to the board of management shortly. The board of management will be tendering a further final report on about 11 or 12 June on this matter. When the Minister for Science and I became aware of this incident, we put out a statement. We take the matter seriously, but there was no risk.