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Wednesday, 27 May 1987
Page: 3463

(Question No. 5236)

Mr Conquest asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 24 March 1987:

(1) Is he able to say (a) how extensive is the spread of atrophic rhinitis is in the pig population of Australia and (b) whether recent imports of live pigs carrying the main causal organism are responsible for the current outbreak of the disease.

(2) Is the Australian Agricultural Health and Quarantine Service presently considering an application for the further importation of live pigs into Australia; if so, will action be taken to reject this application since other, safer methods already exist for the introduction of new and improved genetic material.

Mr Kerin —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) (a) Information obtained from the report of the April 1987 meeting of Animal Health Committee shows the following;

New South Wales reported that cases of atrophic rhinitis had been found in a piggery at Carcoar in pigs which had been introduced from South Australia;

Victoria has reported one recent case;

Western Australia has reported nine herds with signs of clinical disease however only one instance of loss of production has been recorded;

Queensland has reported one suspected case but not positive identification was made;

South Australia has also reported an outbreak.

(b) I am advised that atrophic rhinitis has been reported sporadically in Australia since 1959 and that experts are divided as to the source of the virulent form experienced in recent years. The disease is complex in that husbandry and management practices play a significant part in its clinical manifestations. Several causative organisms which can be spread by a number of means are involved. Recent outbreaks of the disease cannot be attributed directly to imported pigs.

(2) At the time of the honourable member's question one consignment of 18 pigs was in the process of importation from Canada. This shipment is undergoing quarantine at the Spotswood Animal Quarantine Station in Victoria and is due for release on 15 May.

The process of quarantine and testing before export from Canada is both lengthy and costly to importers. The recent shipment had been in preparation since November 1986 after the importer had sought and was given confirmation by my Department that the 1986 Chief Quarantine Offices (Animals) Conference agreed that importation of live pigs under existing stringent conditions was safe and could continue.

In light of these details, I believe it would have been inappropriate to stop or delay that importation. No further applications for importation of pigs are under consideration at this time.