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Tuesday, 29 August 1972
Page: 474

Senator BISHOP - My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Firstly, has the Minister's attention been drawn to the reference by the Government of Victoria to the National Health and Medical Research Council of the question of the standards set for mercury in fish? Secondly, in view of the fact that the situation in Victoria and South Australia is affecting the whole of the fishing industry will the Minister do what he can to facilitate the inquiry and have a proper determination made immediately?

Senator GREENWOOD - I am aware only of Press reports that the Governments of Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania have questioned the allowable levels of mercury in sea foods and that they want a meeting of the National Health and Research Council to reconsider the levels which were fixed by the Council not very long ago. My understanding is that the maximum mercury level permitted was 0.5 parts per million in various types of fish and fish products and that the Council made that determination knowing that levels higher than that were to be found in fish around Australia. Whether or not the National Health and Medical Research Council will, in the light of new representations, vary the decision which it recently made I am unable to say. As to when the Council will meet to consider these requests, I can only say that I will endeavour to obtain that information and pass it to the honourable senator as soon as possible.

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