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Friday, 26 July 1912

Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia) . - I should like to have it made absolutely clear that the Federal authorities have power to deal at once with any dangerous disease, whether it has been defined as quarantinable or not. In the Irishman case, there was power, under the original Quarantine Act, to issue a proclamation, making measles quarantinable. The definition section provides that any disease may be declared by the Governor-General by proclamation to be a quarantinable disease. Consequently, the Irishman case could have been dealt with by the mere issue of a proclamation.

Senator St Ledger - As soon as the vessel got to the wharf ?

Senator GUTHRIE - Yes.

Senator St Ledger - Possible, but not very practicable.

Senator GUTHRIE - The Irishman was in port forty-eight hours after the existence of the disease was known, and surely a proclamation could have been issued within forty-eight hours. It has been said that the Government broke the law in order to do a necessary thing. I say that there was no need to break the law at all. It was within the power of the Government to issue a proclamation.

Senator Clemons - Measles had not been proclaimed quarantinable.

Senator GUTHRIE - But the disease might have been proclaimed at once. What we require in future is that if a ship comes into port with disease on board which is inimical to our people, we should not wait until the ship arrives at a wharf before a proclamation is issued. It appears to me that we need to amend the definition of " quarantinable."

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