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Thursday, 14 June 1906
Page: 227


Mr KENNEDY - Any one who doubts my statement has only to make inquiry for himself to have it confirmed. I can mention numerous districts in Victoria where, notwithstanding the amount which landholders have spent each year in keeping down the rabbits, and the improvements which they have made by clearing, cultivation, and the application of manures, the productiveness of the land, either in crops or in food for stock, has been reduced by from 20 to 40 per cent. It has been said that in inoculating the rabbits with a microbe we shall take risks. Undoubtedly we shall; but if the proposed experiments are conducted subject to proper supervision and control, the risks will be very small. Are we to assume that the Pasteur Institute would send to Australia a representative likely to injure its reputation by taking unnecessary risks; or that the Government of New South Wales would allow the proposed experiments to be carried out without the observance of all due precautions? We have had the assurance of Dr. Tidswell, a man of considerable qualifications, that there are precautions which can be taken to avoid risks. We know practically nothing of the microbe which it is proposed to introduce. Dr. Danysz says that it is already in existence in Canada, and in some countries of Europe, and' it cannot be definitely said that it is not already present among the rabbits of Australia.


Mr Watkins - It has not killed many of them, apparently.


Mr KENNEDY - Possibly it may be here, and may not be active. What is proposed is to experiment, first, to see if the microbe proposed to be introduced is efficient for rabbit destruction, and, secondly, if infection is liable to be conveyed to stock, or to human beings. I would remind those who are opposed' to these experiments of the great boon conferred on Australia by the experiment conducted with spores or microbes with a view to counteracting disease. It is not intended to inoculate rabbits in the open with the microbe brought here by Dr. Danysz, so long as there is reasonable doubt that it may affect other animals or human beings, and one of the questions to be answered is whether such infection is possible. I am ready to vote for every reasonable safeguard, but it may be that, after the experiments have been carried out, it will be seen that the microbe is unsuitable, and it will not then be used. We know what the scientific investigation of, and experiments with, diseases have done in other directions. We know whathas been the effect of the application of the virus of vaccine for the prevention of anthrax, and how efficaciously that dread disease can now be controlled. I trust, therefore, that Parliament will do nothing to prevent proper experiments with this microbe, always under restrictions which will safeguard human and other animal life, except rabbits. Personally, I cannot conceive that the Pasteur Institute would send an unqualified man out here, or that the health authorities of New South Wales would allow the public health of the State and the Commonwealth to be endangered by the prosecution of experiments without proper safeguards, and I trust, therefore, that the honorable and learned member for West Sydney will allow his motion to be amended in some such way as I have suggested.







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