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Thursday, 24 February 1977
Page: 526

Mr Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:

(1)   What are the functions of the Plague Locust Commission.

(2)   How many persons are employed by the Commission.

(3)   What work in the field has been undertaken since the Commission was established.

(4)   What measures are planned to control the present outbreaks of plague locusts throughout much of South Eastern Australia.

Mr Sinclair - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(   1 ) The functions of the Australian Plague Locust Commission are :

(a)   The collection and collation of data on the Australian Plague Locust.

(b)   The forecasting of significant changes and developments in the locust population.

(c)   The undertaking of control operations.

(d)   The development of improved control measures and strategies.

(e)   The monitoring of all actions and the effects of control operations.

(f)   The provision of assistance to individual States by means of advice on local Australian plague locust problems.

The functions are directed at combating outbreaks or potential outbreaks of the Australian Plague Locust in New

South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia considered likely to result in damage to rural industries in another State.

(2)   There are 19 positions attached to the Commission of which nine are occupied. The remainder are in the course of being filled.

(3)   As soon as staff appointments permitted, the Commission commenced surveys directed at determining the status of locust activity. During the recent outbreaks the Commission mounted 2 control campaigns; the first in the Hillston-Hay area of New South Wales from 5-18 November 1976 and the second in the Jerilderie district of New South Wales from 7-17 December 1976. Both campaigns complemented those conducted by the New South Wales Government.

(4)   At present Commission staff are involved primarily in survey work in New South Wales and Queensland aimed at monitoring locust activity. Further control operations by the Commission will depend on the evaluation of that activity, especially in regard to the threat it poses for rural industries in other States. As on earlier occasions the control operations would involve aerial spraying in relatively remote pastoral areas where land owner and State control activity is most likely to be minimal. The extent of spraying would, of course, be limited by resources available to the Commission.

Medibank: Discrimination by Private Doctors (Question No. 2035)

Dr Klugman asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

In which New South Wales country towns are private doctors refusing to treat standard ward hospital patients (Hansard, 15 February 1977, page 78).

Mr Hunt -The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

I do not consider it desirable or practicable to name the towns. In some New South Wales country towns, private doctors are refusing to treat standard Medibank hospital patients. We know it goes on and that the degree to which doctors are not co-operating varies from town to town. I do not think it fair to attempt to list the towns. In the first place there would be a risk of the list not being exhaustive, and secondly, of the possibility of a stigma being attached to those listed towns, or their doctors, in which only a small minority of the doctors are carrying out what I consider an unethical practice.

This matter is of continuing concern to the Government and I have offered the Minister for Health in New South Wales any help that I can give to try to resolve the problem and have appealed to the Australian Medical Association to campaign among its members for a cessation of this discriminatory practice which, I am glad to say, is restricted to a minority of its members.

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