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Thursday, 25 July 1912


Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) . - lt was quite unnecessary for Senator St. Ledger to tell us that he had spoken warmly. The weather would have to be pretty cold when Senator St. Ledger could not generate some amount of heat. He has succeeded on the present occasion, as on several others, in throwing warmth into the subject. We have to iemember that the chief quarantine officer has just returned from a tour of inspection on which he has been able to study many different systems of quarantine and the methods adopted by other countries to prevent the spread of disease. This measure has been introduced according to the advice given to the Government by the chief quarantine officer. It is a fairly comprehensive measure, and one calculated to improve our< quarantine system. It will bring our methods into line with the most up-to-date methods for the prevention of disease that have been adopted anywhere. It is a very necessary measure.


Senator St Ledger - We all think that.


Senator DE LARGIE - Then I cannot understand what Senator St. Ledger's complaint was. The most curious criticism of all was that of Senator Millen. He complained that the Minister in introducing the Bill had not given a sufficient explanation. I listened to Senator Findley's second-reading speech, and thought that be had gone rather fully into details. I was inclined to remark that the explanations he offered were such as would be more suitable for Committee.


Senator Millen - What does the Bill propose then?


Senator DE LARGIE - That is a piece of pretty cool cheek, if I may be excused for using that word. Just fancy honorable senators opposite admitting that they have not even read the Bill, and yet venturing to criticise the Minister because he has not explained it fully.


Senator Chataway - Is it not the Minister's business te explain Bills to us?


Senator DE LARGIE - The Minister did explain it, entering into minute details. Now we have Senator Millen admitting that he has .not even read the measure. We know Senator Millen's methods fairly well. I have not sat with him in this Chamber for eleven years without learning how he works. He waits to discover some loop-hole in order that he may find fault with a Government Bill, or with the Minister who has introduced it.


Senator Chataway - It cannot be alleged that Senator Millen is not industrious in his political work.


Senator DE LARGIE - I do not say that he is not, but there is good reason to find fault with his criticism when he admits that he has not read a Bill, and yet complains of another senator who undoubtedly has shown a great deal of industry and understanding in presenting it. We must remember that only the general principles of a measure can be dealt with at this stage. In a country like Australia, with a great number of seaports round its 8,000 or 9,000 miles of coastline, to supply properly-equipped and administered quarantine stations with doctors, nurses, and medicines of all kinds at every place where a ship having on board cases of quarantinable disease might put in, would involve an enormous expenditure of money - a much larger sum than Australia with its present population is able to afford.


Senator Givens - What would a bad outbreak of small-pox cost Australia?


Senator DE LARGIE - I grant that it would cost a great deal ; but it must be recognised that whatever precautions we take to safeguard the public health they must always be commensurate with the money available to us.


Senator Givens - Does the honorable senator think that two or three properlyequipped quarantine stations on each coast would be too many?


Senator DE LARGIE - I do not think that that would be a bit too much. It might not be quite enough in some circumstances. But nevertheless it is true that we are limited in our power of spending public money.


Senator Needham - Would the honorable senator limit expense in methods for safeguarding the public health?







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