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Tuesday, 14 May 1985
Page: 1942

Senator Walsh —On 26 February 1985 (Hansard, page 174) Senator Hearn asked me questions, without notice, in my capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry in the Senate. His questions concerned (1) toxic effects of crop spraying in northern Tasmania and (2) was the Federal Government conducting or funding research into the effect upon humans, animals or the environment of the toxic effects. The Minister for Primary Industry has supplied the following answers to the honourable senator's questions:

(1) The Minister for Primary Industry is aware that concern has been expressed by certain sections of the community of the Devonport area of northern Tasmania.

The Minister is also aware that, following an ABC television segment on 14 March 1984 alluding to the concerns of people in the Forth area of the North-West Region of Tasmania, the Tasmanian Department of Health Services undertook an investigation into the health issues associated with aerial spraying of pesticides in that area. The report of that investigation was released by the Tasmanian Minister for Health at a Press conference held about May 1984.

The Minister for Primary Industry is not aware of the specific cases to which the honourable senator alludes but if details are provided they will be transmitted to the Tasmanian Minister for Health with a request for a detailed investigation.

(2) The Commonwealth Department of Primary Industry is not specifically conducting or funding any research into the effect upon humans, animals or the environment of toxic chemicals used for aerial crop spraying.

It is understood that the State Departments responsible for agriculture, health, parks and wildlife and the environment from time to time undertake investigations of the use of pesticides applied from both ground based equipment and aircraft.

It is a requirement of the regulatory authorities responsible for control of pesticides in Australia that the agricultural chemicals industry undertake extensive studies of the possible effects of pesticides on humans, animals and the environment prior to their clearance and subsequent registration by the State regulatory authorities. The nature and extent of the required data package is set out in PB310A-Requirements for Clearance of Agricultural Chemicals prepared by the Department of Primary Industry. That document sets out the requirements for toxicity and health effects data development as prescribed by the National Health and Medical Research Council, as well as the requirements for data for environmental, efficacy and safety evaluations.