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Tuesday, 1 May 1984
Page: 1358

Senator HEARN —I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs and Environment. Recent instances of over-spray and spray-drift of pesticides from agricultural aircraft in Tasmania have highlighted the inadequacy of control measures relating to hazardous chemicals. While the State Government duckshoves the responsibility between departments, the enormous personal, social and economic costs are ignored. In December 1982, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Conservation recognised the inadequate and fragmented controls and, in its report on the inquiry into hazardous chemicals, recommended Federal legislation. What legislation, if any, is the Government considering?

Senator RYAN —The Minister for Home Affairs and Environment has said that he is not aware of recent incidents in Tasmania concerning environmental contamination from aerial spraying of pesticides. He suggests that the question be referred to the Minister for Primary Industry for information about any such incidents. He points out that the control of the applications of pesticides is principally a matter of State responsibility. However, the Commonwealth controls the safety of operations of aircraft used for aerial spraying under the Air Navigation Orders. The Government recognises the importance of proper management of chemicals to aviod potential hazards to human health and the environment. A substantial increase in funds and manpower, therefore, was provided to the Department of Home Affairs and Environment in 1983-84 for work in this area. The Government has also moved quickly to implement its national occupational health and safety strategy, with a particular focus on chemical hazards in the work force. I think it would be more useful to Senator Hearn if the details of her question and its reference to the House of Representatives Committee and follow up were referred first to the Minister for Home Affairs and Environment and then, as she suggests , to the Minister for Primary Industry for further information.