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Thursday, 22 May 1980
Page: 3197

Mr Holding asked the Minister for Science and the Environment, upon notice on 19 February 1980:

(1)   In view of the interest in chemicals used in Vietnam during the war there, as herbicides and pesticides, and the continuing debate within Australia over domestic use of various chemical agents such as 2,4,5-T and 2,4,-D, and the possible health problems caused by these chemicals, has he, his Department or any Government agency under his control, carried out any survey to determine what original research, as distinct from scientific literature reviews, is being conducted by CSIRO, various academic institutions and any other relevant bodies, into the possible effects of chemicals on both humans and the physical environment.

(2)   If so, (a) what chemical agents are being investigated; ( b) which individuals are carrying out the research, (c) what scientific disciplines do they represent, (d) where are they located, (e) what Commonwealth financial support does eachresearch project receive, (f) what private enterprise financial support does each research project receive and from which sources and (g) has any agency under Commonwealth Government control conducted any review of any of these research projects; if so, when and by whom was the review carried out.

Mr Thomson - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(   1 ) Research into the effects of chemicals on health and the environment covers a wide field of activities. No formal survey has been carried out by CSIRO to determine what original research is being conducted into the possible effects of chemicals on both humans and the physical environment. However, several units in CSIRO conduct, researchwork related to this field. For example, the CSIRO Division of Irrigation Research is undertaking research on herbicides used to control water weeds in irrigation systems, including the persistence and distribution of residues in soil, water and crops. These CSIRO research activities have been reviewed in the context of regular internal reviews of the Organisation. The House of Representatives' Standing Committee on Environment and Conservation has initiated an inquiry into the management of chemicals hazardous to health and the environment. One of the issues being considered is what research, assessment and dissemination of information on chemicals potentially hazardous to health and the environment is being conducted in Australia.

(2)   In January 1979 the Department of Science and the Environment released the first edition of the Australian Research Directory which lists 13,000 research projects inthe natural and selected social sciences. The Directory includes' details of research projects, the names of project leaders, departmental objectives and specialised facilities in universities and colleges of advanced education. The use of key words identifies those projects being conducted on the possible effects ofchemicals on both humans and the physical environment. Copies of the Directory may be obtained from the CSIRO Editorial and Publications Service.

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