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Tuesday, 19 March 1985
Page: 436


Senator WALSH (Minister for Finance)(9.44) —As I have done before, when I listened to the last two speakers I was hoping that they could be quarantined somewhere in a soundproof room. The Bill has not been opposed by any speaker-although I have not been here for the whole debate-but a number of queries have been raised by some honourable senators. I shall reply to them briefly. Senator Jack Evans, Senator Georges and Senator Teague, at least, made comments about the Toomer case. The Government, and even I directly, are examining and considering the Toomer case. I think it is worth noting for the record that the views expressed by Senator Jack Evans and Senator Georges were somewhat at variance with those expressed by Senator Teague, who, I think, chaired the relevant committee. Senator Teague sought an assurance that a strong general Quarantine Division would be maintained in addition to the human, plant and animal divisions. I give that assurance.

Senator Tate asked whether the Director of Quarantine would have direct access to the Minister. I am advised that the Director of Quarantine is to be the Secretary to the Department of Primary Industry and, therefore, one can safely assume that the Secretary would have direct access to the Minister. A number of people, I think, were critical of what they thought was a fact-that the Australian National Animal Health Laboratory was not operating. In fact, the Laboratory has commenced operation and I am advised that it is scheduled to be officially opened on 1 April 1985. I trust that not too much of significance can be read into that date. Mr Deputy President, I shall not delay the passage of the Bill any further.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.