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Wednesday, 4 May 1994
Page: 266

(Question No. 1224)


Senator Newman asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 16 March 1994:

  (1) What initial and ongoing funding was received by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratory (CSL) for research and development of an anti-venene for jack-jumper bite.

  (2) Given that it was a requirement of funding that a register of names of people needing the anti-venene was set, how many Tasmanian names are on the register and how many names from each other State are on the register.

  (3) Is it a fact that, due to privatisation of the CSL, the project will not be continued by the company which will own the laboratory.

  (4) Will the Government ensure that the research and development for the anti-venene (which was quite advanced, but needed more work) is continued by this, or another, research facility; if not, why not.


Senator Crowley —The Minister for Human Services and Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

  (1) CSL Limited received from the Commonwealth $120,000 over the three years to 30 June 1992 for research and development of an antivenom for jack jumper ant bite.

  (2) The number on the register of names of people needing jack jumper ant antivenom, on a State-by-State basis, is as follows:

  Tasmania—81

  New South Wales—16

  Victoria—207

  Queensland—4

  South Australia—22

  Western Australia—0

  ACT—6

  Total—336

  (3) and (4) Under commercial arrangements applying to CSL since its corporatisation in 1990, CSL would not be expected to undertake research in fields which could not be justified on commercial grounds. CSL continued jack jumper ant antivenom research after Commonwealth funding ceased in June 1992, but following a reappraisal of progress against commercial criteria, the Company has now decided to discontinue the research work from the end of 1993-94.

  CSL has arranged the relocation of antivenom research to a major academic institute. An announcement will be made to that effect in the near future. CSL will maintain a capacity to undertake product development as part of the Company's overall research and development effort in the event that further research generates positive outcomes.

  Consistent with its approach to other applications for health and medical research funding, the Commonwealth will consider future funding proposals for antivenom research under the auspices of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NH&MRC) which is the most appropriate Commonwealth body to assess a grant application on its merits and against other health and medical research projects.