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Friday, 28 November 1986
Page: 4081

(Question No. 3824)

Mr Scott asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment, upon notice, on 30 April 1986:

(1) Has the Government abandoned the concept of a statutory environmental contaminants authority; if so, why.

(2) Will the Environmental Contamination and Co-ordination Division in his Department be involved in the National Health and Medical Research Council inquiry into allegedly hazardous agricultural chemicals.

Mr Cohen —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) An Environment Contaminants and Coordination Division has been established within the Department of Arts, Heritage and Environment. This Division is developing and implementing, in conjunction with other Commonwealth and State government agencies, the range of functions which are envisaged in the Federal Platform of the Australian Labor Party for an Environmental Contaminants Authority.

It is not considered appropriate to establish at this stage a statutory authority to perform these functions.

(2) I am unaware of an inquiry by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NH & MRC) into allegedly hazardous agricultural chemicals. However, I am advised that the NH & MRC, which advises the Minister for Health, reviews potential hazards of agricultural chemicals as new information becomes available. The current review of organochlorine pesticides is an example of this process. My Department has recently taken on the role of environmental assessment of agricultural chemicals notified under the national clearance system operated by the Australian Agricultural Council.