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Thursday, 14 June 1906


Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume) (Minister of Trade and Customs) . - I wish to explain exactly what has been done in reference to this matter. When it was announced that Dr. Danysz was coming here, the matter was placed in my hands by the Prime Minister. I felt some difficulty in dealing with it, because, personally. I have a strong dislike to the idea of introducing any disease here, and I am fully aware of the ravages that have been committed by the rabbits in the past, and of the injury that they will inflict in the future if they are not checked. I adopted the course which I thought was best for all concerned. Having been intimately connected with Dr. Tidswell during the first plague outbreak in Sydney, I asked the ┬źNew South Wales Government to allow him to come to Melbourne, in order that he might meet Dr. Danysz, and form an opinion as to the nature of the proposed remedy, and the prospects of its success, and act for the Federal Government. Dr. Tidswell came to Melbourne, and had an interview with Dr. Danysz, and made a _ report, upon which I have since acted. I have the report here. It is a report, I think, that should cause honorable members to reflect before hastily sanctioning the introduction of a disease '">f which we know but little. In that report, which there is no necessity for me to read, because it is available to honorable members if they desire to peruse it, Dr. Tidswell states that a confrere of Dr. Danysz - I refer to M. Chamberland - disagrees with the statement of Dr. Danysz, that this disease cannot be conveyed to other animals.


Mr Kelly - He does not mention that this particular microbe cannot be communicated. Hie says that the whole family r.f microbes are alike.


Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I do not wish to enter into details connected with bacteriology, although I confess that I have learnt a great deal from Dr. Tidswell in reference to this particular pasteurella family. He says that ifc' is practically the same microbe, but fostered in a different way, that produces swine fever, chicken cholera, and appears in several other forms. He declares that it may be conveyed to other animals besides rabbits.


Mr Kelly - He also says that there is' no need to apprehend disastrous consequences from its introduction.


Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The point which appealed to me most was that a confrere of Dr. Danysz - a member of the Pasteur Institute - says the opposite of Dr. Danysz. In such circumstances, it is necessary for the Government to be exceedingly cautious as to what course they shall pursue.


Mr Wilks - Has the Minister obtained expert advice?


Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I am acting up" on the advice of Dr. Tidswell.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does the Minister intend to follow it throughout?


Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Yes, absolutely.


Mr Wilson - But Dr. Danysz, in making his first application, safeguarded himself against the dangers to which the Minister refers.


Sir WILLIAM LYNE - He says that he did, but I do not think that we should accept his mere assurance. He might conceivably make a mistake. I wish honorable members to understand1 that I am not speaking either for or against the destruction of the rabbit. I know what the rabbit is perfectly well, and I am thoroughly familiar with the troubles to which its presence gives rise. I am aware that in some parts of the country, which are closely settled, the rabbit is not much to be feared. Indeed, some of my own constituents do not desire to see it destroyed. In the mountainous portions of the country, i't is difficult to destroy it, and on the plains its destruction would involve the expenditure of a good deal of money. Acting upon tha advice of the Attorney-General, a proclamation has been issued bv the Government. As a matter of fact, that proclamation was drafted bv hi:mi. The clauses to which the honorable and learned member for West Sydney has referred, were considered by the Government, in conjunction with the preparation of that proclamation. In my opinion, there is but little doubt that the Commonwealth Government have power to deal with this matter, so long as thev retain the microbe germs in their own hands. But when once they allow them to pass into the hands of any State, it is very doubtful whether power will continue to vest in them. I instructed the Collector of Customs at Sydney to meet Dr. Danysz upon his arrival there, to take possession of the microbes under seal, and to hand them over to Dr. Tidswell in his laboratory. Dr. Tidswell, is acting not on behalf of the State of New South Wales in this matter, but on behalf of the Federal Government, and, therefore, the microbes are absolutely under the direction of the Federal authorities. We do not intend to allow them to be taken out of the laboratory.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Nobody has ever suggested that they should be taken out of the laboratory.


Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I am inclined to think that *here was- a slight misunderstanding in the mind of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney upon that point, because he spoke of the doubt which, he said, existed, as to whether the Commonwealth Government has power to act. According to the Attorney-General we have that power, and we are acting accordingly. We do not intend to allow the microbes to pass out of our power, lest we might lose control of them. At the present time they are in the hands of an officer who represents the Commonwealth Government.


Mr Wilson - Does the Minister intend to allow laboratory experiments to be conducted ?


Sir WILLIAM LYNE - If the resolution be carried, even in its present form, " Yes.'" Those' experiments, however, will be under the direct supervision of Dr. Tidswell.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The motion, if carried, will prevent anything beyond laboratory experiments being undertaken.


Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I was coming to that point. What is the object of having experiments conducted in a laboratory unless we are prepared - assuming that they result satisfactorily - to go "further? I would suggest to the honorable and learned member for West Sydney that he might add to his motion words which - if honorable members do not. desire to leave the matter absolutely in the hands of the Government - will have the effect of leaving it in their hands if Parliament be not sitting. Should Parliament be sitting it would then be in a position to decide the matter itself.


Mr Henry Willis - Why should not the Government accept the responsibility of taking action?







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