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Wednesday, 13 October 1971
Page: 2317

Mr CALDER (NORTHERN TERRITORY) (12:25 PM) - I would like to speak about the meningococcal meningitis case at Napperby station which was referred to on Tuesday, 5th October, by the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) who said that there had been 3 cases from Napperby, 100 miles north west of Alice Springs. He asked a question of the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) about a fire fighting tanker being used to cart water for watering the lawns instead of carting fresh water for the Aborigines because the station supply is close to finished. He also implied that a drilling rig to sink an urgently needed bore was not in action because of a dispute between the station management and the Government. The Minister admitted at the time that he was aware of the serious health problem on this station but promised to investigate the details and to advise the honourable member.

On Thursday, 7th October, in a personal explanation the honourable member for Prospect said that the number of meningitis cases from Napperby station had risen to 7. He went on with what appeared to be a technical explanation. It concerned an assumed implication of the honourable member's lack of knowledge as to whether meningococcal meningitis is water borne. He explained also the effect on child patients of a lack of really adequate water supplies, which could cause increased dehydration and depression. One would expect that a doctor would be able to give these sorts of explanations. But there are numerous other cases in the Alice Springs hospital which did not come from Napperby but from other stations which have adequate water supplies. But what put the lie to the honourable member's sincerity in this whole affair-

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honourable member is impugning by implication the reputation of an honourable member, and I ask him to withdraw the remark.

Mr CALDER (NORTHERN TERRITORY) - I withdraw the remark. What indicates that his attitude towards this matter is completely incorrect and why I doubt his sincerity-

Mr SPEAKER - Order! I again ask the honourable member to withdraw that remark.

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