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Tuesday, 29 May 1973
Page: 2827

Mr Giles asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

(1)   Was there a breakdown of quarantine procedures involving the Prime Minister and the Deputy

Prime Minister on two recent occasions on their return to Australia.

(2)   If so, what steps are now to be taken to subject returning Ministers to the same scrutiny as that to which members of the public are subjected.

(3)   Does the Government agree that all travellers should be equally subject to measures which aim to protect the Australian livestock and horticultural industries.

Dr Everingham - The answer to the honourable member's questions is as follows:

(1)   On two recent occasions quarantine requirements were not fully met in respect of plants and fruit carried on aircraft which were returning to Australia from overseas. In the first case, because of an oversight, a bouquet of flowers was not declared to either customs or health officers on arrival of the Prime Ministers party at Canberra Airport. The flowers, which were anthuriums, and a farewell gift to Mrs Whitlam from the Prime Minister of Mauritius, were taken on board without Mrs Whitlam's knowledge. However, immediately my department became aware of the existence of the flowers, they were duly inspected as would normally be done in such a case. Although anthuriums and other cut flowers are not prohibited Imports, such imports are required to be inspected by an officer of my Department. In this case, the inspecting officer reported that the flowers in question were clean and non propagatable. They contained no roots, soil, insect pest or other evidence of disease. They were passed for import. This is normal practice. In the second case four mangoes were imported on a V.I. P. flight bringing back to Australia the Minister for Defence and the party accompanying the Minister. These mangoes were unfortunately overlooked when the declaration was made and were not detected by a quarantine officer. I am quite satisfied that in both cases an accidental oversight occurred.

(2)   Following these occurrences, I arranged urgent discussions between my Department and other Departments concerned with a view to preventing a recurrence of these incidents.

(3)   Yes.

Department of the Environment and ) Conservation: Accommodation (Question No. 620)

Mr Garland asked the Minister for the

Environment and Conservation, upon notice:

(1)   Has his attention been drawn to the reply by the Minister for Services and Property to my question No. 174 (Hansard, 16 May 1973, page 2250), in which he suggested that details relating to occupancies by Commonwealth authorities in buildings not owned by the Commonwealth should be obtained from the Ministers concerned.

(2)   Will he provide details, as set out in that question, of all places occupied by his Department and by authorities under his control in buildings not owned by the Commonwealth.

Dr Cass - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Yes.

(2)   My Department does not occupy any buildings in the States which are not owned by the Australian Government.

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