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Monday, 29 May 1989
Page: 2897


Senator BJELKE-PETERSEN —After that tirade from Senator Walsh about our family, most of which is untrue, I would like to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Community Services and Health-regrettably, Senator Walsh himself. I hope he does not give me the same kind of answer to this question as he gave to the last one. I refer the Minister to reports that cases of the mosquito-carried Ross River virus have soared in Queensland this year. One thousand and ninety-five cases had already been reported as of two weeks ago. I ask the Minister: In view of the fact that this virus can leave symptoms lasting up to 30 to 40 weeks, what consideration did the Government give to the substantial cost to the community in increased health care payments and lost work time for these sufferers when it decided, at last month's Health Ministers conference, to reject calls for renewed Federal Government control funding?


Senator WALSH —There are two parts to the question. In the first part Senator Bjelke-Petersen alleges that the details I gave about the provision of roads to the Bjelke-Petersen family properties, `Ten Mile' and `Crystal Waters', are not true. I invite her to make what she alleges to be the necessary corrections. She really ought to count herself lucky because I did not mention anything about the misuse of taxpayers' funds-in this case Queensland's taxpayers' funds-to provide water supplies to the same properties or the $5m of Queensland taxpayers' money that was effectively misappropriated for the Mackenzie River Dam to provide a water supply to the property.


The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Walsh, I ask you to answer the question asked by Senator Bjelke-Petersen.


Senator Bjelke-Petersen —Mr President, I take a point of order. What the Minister said is completely wrong. No water is being provided to my son's property from that dam on the Mackenzie River, which is 30 miles away. The water on my son's property is provided by God from up above. It is in the Mackenzie River and the anabranch.


The PRESIDENT —There is no point of order but I ask Senator Walsh to answer the question that he was asked.

Opposition senators interjecting-


Senator WALSH —Mr President, I feel inclined to ask a question of you. Do you believe that rabble over there is fit to be in government? Just for the record, the water from the Mackenzie Dam, in the first instance, fills a billabong, which has, I think, an 18-inch centrifugal pump which transfers the water to the `Ten Mile' property, a licence for which fortuitously was granted just before the Queensland Budget in, I think, 1983, in which it was announced that $5m would be provided to construct the Mackenzie River Dam to make sure there was water in the billabong.

I am not aware of the details of the second part of the question concerning the Ross River virus. I will refer it to the Minister for Community Services and Health for an answer.