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Tuesday, 2 May 1989
Page: 1606


Senator CALVERT(8.26) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

We had a matter of public importance today regarding research and funding for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. This particular report refers to the Australian Special Rural Research Council's annual report. It is one of our smaller expenditures on research in this country pertaining to new and existing rural industries which are too small to justify the establishment of rural industry research funds.

One would find, while looking through the report, some innovative programs which have been conducted by different research bodies, departments of agriculture and researchers around Australia. I would like to take a few moments to comment on some of those programs. These projects are funded, and are encouraged to be funded, on a dollar-for-dollar basis by the Government. This does not apply to all of them. Some of the research projects are so small that they have to be fully funded for the small amounts of money which are involved, to allow this innovative research to continue.

The Council supported approximately 154 research projects in 1987-88 and contributed $2.4m in financial assistance to these projects. The percentage cut-ups of the particular funding were about 37 per cent for horticulture; 22 per cent for field crops; 11 1/2 per cent for animal industries; 11 per cent for vegetable crops; 7 1/2 per cent for forestry farm trees and 10 1/2 per cent for multi-industry and national interests. The projects were so diverse that one could find research going into such things as investigation in relation to commercial snail farming and marketing of snails in Australia as food, and deer farming. One project that particularly caught my eye was that being undertaken by the Tasmanian Department of Agriculture to develop a vaccine against toxoplasma abortion in goats. That might sound very insignificant, and a very small matter, but last year when I had the pleasure and honour of being part of a parliamentary delegation to, among other places, Sabah. I was shocked and staggered to witness, along with one of my colleagues from the other place, Mr Alasdair Webster, the result of toxoplasma abortion in goats caused by stress in a shipload of goats sent from Wyndham in Western Australia to Sabah. The feral goat industry has just started in Australia and has great potential. Unfortunately, because of stress caused by a number of things a lot of these pregnant goats aborted on the trip or on arrival in Sabah. Consequently, out of a shipment of 400 goats nearly 100 died. It was rather a sad sight to see these poor animals aborting young goats here, there and everywhere. I am pleased to see that some research is going into trying to develop a vaccine to contain this particular malfunction which is jeopardising what I see as potentially a very important export industry for Australia.

Many other things are mentioned in the report; for instance, rust resistance in triticale, which would please Senator Brownhill. There are hundreds of other matters. They are all very small projects, for instance, herb production in Tasmania. They are only small amounts of money, but they do have a significant effect.