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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 2943

Senator VIGOR(10.37) —I have three very short questions closer to home which I want to ask, particularly relating to the activities of the Department of Territories in the education area. I refer to the proposed closure of the Watson High School which I visited on a recent open day. A lot of effort seems to have gone into keeping children out of the school. A lot of money seems to have gone in, as there was a major asbestos problem in the school. The school was told, after it had been operating for 21 years, that it will be closed down. It seems to be serving a reasonable area. Apparently there has been a temporary reprieve. Does the Government propose to close the school down? If so, what does it intend to do with the facilities, and what will be the cost of this exercise?

The next area about which I am particularly concerned and about which I will cut short my question is that of hydatid control within the Australian Capital Territory Health Authority. In this year's Budget there seems to have been a cut of $10,000 for the hydatid control program. It is really an important problem for the area and the surrounding districts because the Australian Capital Territory has the highest incidence of hydatids, and all of us are open to infection. About a dozen cases a year, involving people in the Australian Capital Territory or from the hospital catchment areas, require treatment for hydatidosis. In New Zealand and Tasmania, it has been shown that a long term education campaign can be very effective in reducing the incidence of infestation.

Feral animals in the Australian Capital Territory and surrounding areas are apparently, unfortunately, badly infested. This means that humans have to take sensible precautions in dealing with the animals. The contribution of the Australian Capital Territory Health Authority has been to withdraw $10,000 from the campaign. To me, that seems insane in the current climate, as preventive activities would greatly reduce the cost of the Australian Capital Territory health system of this problem. I ask the Minister and the Department what they are planning to do about this very serious problem and whether they would enter into any type of advertising campaign to point out to people how they can avoid this particularly nasty but avoidable disease.