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Friday, 26 July 1912

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) . - On one occasion I had the pleasure of spending a three weeks' holiday at the quarantine station in Victoria, where there was no quarantinable 'disease at the time. I had the opportunity to make several trips in the Government launch to boats as they came in, and I was of opinion then that it was the practice of the quarantine doctor to inspect every boat. Is it optional for -a boat to call for the doctor, seeing that he appears to have no other duty than to inspect boats as they arrive? Is it possible for a boat which has disease or illness on board to ignore the quarantine doctor if, in the opinion of the master, the vessel is clean? Take the c*se of the Irishman, which landed passengers at the Melbourne wharf. I am not clear as to whether the doctor at the quarantine station had inspected her. But, in the event of the doctor having inspected the boat, and measles, which most of the immigrants had, not being a quarantinable disease, did he permit her to proceed to the Melbourne wharf ? At any rate, she came to the Melbourne wharf, and, . after consultation, the authorities decided that the whole of the passengers must be sent back 40 miles to the quarantine station for treatment. In this case there seems to have been a lack of co-operation. Although measles may not be a quarantinable disease, still the whole of the medical officers considered that the position was serious enough to warrant the sending of the boat to the quarantine station. She should certainly have been inspected when she came inside the Heads; she should never have been permitted to come to the wharf without the authorities having made a thorough inspection. Had that been :done, there is no doubt that the boat would not have been permitted to land any passengers at the wharf. Although it was only measles from which they were suffering, the passengers were kept on the wharf for forty-eight hours while the boat was being unloaded. Had it been a more serious disease, the position would have been a grave one indeed for the city of Melbourne. I should like to know whether there was neglect in this case, and whether it is met by the amendments contained in the Bill.

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