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Thursday, 31 March 1966

Mr BARNES (MCPHERSON, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for Territories) - There is an embargo at the present time on the export of poultry and poultry products from Australia to Papua and New Guinea. Everyone realises, of course, that Newcastle disease is an extraordinarily serious disease in its virulent form and I think everyone is aware that Newcastle disease is a problem in Australia today. However, the outbreak of Newcastle disease with which we are concerned at the moment is in a rather mild form. My Department is carrying out tests in the Territory on a regional basis to see whether it can find any reaction to this disease. So far the indications are that the Territory is free of Newcastle disease. I point out to the honorable member that I have very great sympathy for the many Australian poultry breeders who have been affected by this embargo. I point out also, however, that we have encouraged the production of poultry by the native community in the Territory because this provides a very valuable addition to the diet of the local villagers. We have endeavoured to improve the breed of poultry in Papua and New Guinea. The honorable member will realise that we have to be very careful in the Territory so that a situation is not produced in which the poultry flocks in the area could be endangered. Until the survey is completed, I am unable to make any announcement on the possibility of lifting the embargo.

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