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Tuesday, 5 November 1985
Page: 1599

(Question No. 488)

Senator Missen asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 22 August 1985:

(1) How many medical and non-medical experiments using animals have been undertaken by the Department of Primary Industry or its agencies during the last 10 years?

(2) What species of animals were used in the experiments?

(3) For what purposes were the experiments undertaken?

Senator Walsh —The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) Officers of the Department of Primary Industry have been involved with five medical experiments over the last 10 years.

Most of the research requirements of the Department are contracted out to other institutions such as Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and universities, and very little experimentation is undertaken by the Department or its agencies.

In addition to the five medical experiments, the Department has undertaken fish tagging for the purpose of monitoring fish populations, and has provided observers on shipments of live sheep.

The Department of Primary Industry does administer and distribute funds provided by Government for the purposes of research in a number of rural industries. A record of research activities so funded and of the recipients of such funds is contained in the 1985 Compendium of Rural Research published by the Department. Some of these research activities involve laboratory or field experiments using live animals. The National Health and Medical Research Council, CSIRO and the Australian Agricultural Council have adopted a Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Experimental Purposes. The guidelines contained in the Code are based on the principle that animals are treated with respect and care, and that consideration of their welfare is an essential factor in determining their use in experiments. The Code came into effect in 1985 and applicants for funds under the various Rural Industry Research Funds are now required to certify that the research project has been examined and approved by a relevant animal experimentation ethics committee and that all the requirements of the Code will be observed. If any experiments are undertaken by the Department in future, it will also abide by the code.

(2) Sheep and dogs were used in the five experiments conducted by the Department.

(3) The purposes of the experiments were as follows:

(i) two experiments on sheep to validate analytical methods for detection of antibiotic residues;

(ii) an experiment on sheep to validate analytical methods for detection of the anthelminitic rafoxanide;

(iii) an experiment on sheep to validate analytical methods for detection of residues of the insecticide cyromazine;

(iv) an experiment on dogs to establish the prevalence of heartworm in the Australian Capital Territory.