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Friday, 28 June 1946

Mr BLAIN (Northern Territory) . - The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) stated this morning that it was proposed to place a cattle dip near Alice Springs instead of 15 miles away, because of the requirements of the South Australian Government that beasts consigned to Adelaide must be trucked within 24 hours of their having been dipped. This raises the whole issue of cattle dips in the light rainfall area of Central Australia and the dry Barkly Tablelands. In' those areas ticks, which require humid conditions for their existence, cannot survive. The cattle tick came to Australia from 'the islands in the 1890's, bringing with it red water fever, which became endemic in northern Australia. At that time we had a small cattle trade with Singapore. In 1897, the South Australian Government debarred cattle from the tick area from the Adelaide meat market. The report of that action was read by an authority in Singapore, who decided that what was barred from Adelaide should also be barred from Singapore. Since then there has been a lot of nonsense talked and written about the cattle tick. . I repeat that it has no chance of living in dry areas because it must have humidity to exist, let alone thrive. Cattle-raisers from the humid areas and the humid areas of the Barkly Tablelands have had their cattle knocked about over the years by the number of dippings that they have to undergo before they are allowed into Queensland. The first dip is at Rankine Plain and then there is a double dip at Lake Nash on the Queensland border. Cattle thar set out from the stations as fat stock become so knocked about in the dips that they have to spend a year on agistment in order to regain condition or have to be sold cheap to buyers- from Charleville or Quilpie. They are not fit, after this gruelling, to be trucked from the railhead at Dajarra. That is serious enough, but it is ludicrous that cattle should have to be dipped at Alice Springs where the 10-in. rainfall is insufficient for the ticks to have a chance of surviving. Where the 'dip is needed is at Newcastle Waters, 500 miles north of Alice Springs, because there we have the line of demarcation, between the humid and dry areas. After passing south from Newcastle Waters, the cattle enter the light rainfall area and the ticks drop off the beasts. I believe that sinister influences among South Australian and Victorian cattle breeders are the reason for the latest move against their competitors in Central Australia where the choicest beef is grown. Those influences have led the Premier of South Australia and the Premier of Victoria to place great difficulties in the way of the northern cattlemen getting their fat stock to the markets in those States, and some people in Western Australia are also convinced that north. Australian cattle should not be allowed to enter that State. The expenditure on a dip at Alice Springs is unwarranted, and I advise the Minister for the Interior not to listen to the idea. If a dip must be built, build at Newcastle Waters. I appeal to the Minister not to harass the unfortunate cattlemen' of Central Australia. Dips already exist near Kelly's Well and Mucketly Bore which have for years been treated as a joke by experienced cattlemen, despite the fact that Kelly's Well is 300 miles north of Alice Springs and Mucketly Bore is still farther north. I will donate five guineas to the Alice Springs Hospital when any one finds a tick at Alice Springs.

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