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Thursday, 14 June 1906
Page: 233

Mr WILKS (Dalley) .- In concluding my remarks, I wish to say that the acting leader of the Opposition desired to speak on this subject, because of its importance to the State of - New South Wales, and would have addressed the House during the afternoon, if he had had an opportunity to do so, but another engagement prevents him from Being present this evening. He takes the view that the New South Wales Government have been represented as neglectful of the true interests of the State, and resents that aspersion upon them. I, as a citizen of that State, wish to emphasize my opinion that that Government and the Parliament of the State - which will shortly be in session - are able and willing to do all that is necessary to protect the people of New South Wales from any danger that might come from uncontrolled experiments of the nature of those proposed' to be undertaken by Dr. Danysz. Dr. Danysz, however, is a scientist of world-wide repute, and is, I am sure,, ready to take every precaution. He has been brought out at the expense of a number of pastoralists, and Broughton Island has been handed over to him for the purpose of his experiments. Mv only concern is that the public health and interests shall not be jeopardized. At the present time, a professor of the Sydney University, who is an expert bacteriologist, refuses to say that the introduction of Dr. Danysz's microbes amongst our rabbits would not be dangerous to the community, and Dr. Tidswell, the Government Bacteriologist of the State, refuses to advise the Minister of Trade and Customs, at this stage, that the introduction can be safely effected. That being so, it is prudent for us to prohibit any but careful experiments, until the fact is demonstrated that a disease can be communicated ┬░to rabbits without injury to human health or the health of stock. In my opinion, the proposed experiments can be safely carried on at Broughton Island, because, as it is at least a mile and a .half from the shore, there is no likelihood of the germs being conveved from it to the mainland. While I realize the proportions of the rabbit industry, I know that the loss inflicted by the rabbits on the pastoral and agricultural industries is much greater. I am not a country representative, but I have travelled a good deal in the country, and I have often wondered why wire netting has not been more largely used to restrain the ravages of the rabbits, though I know that all sorts of schemes have been tried to reduce their numbers. The honorable member for Cowper has told us that, some time ago, during the drought, it was proposed \o engage a. scenic artist to depict on an enormous canvas a landscape covered with luxurious vegetation, with a view to enticing the rabbits to enter a trap prepared for them, and although the idea.seems a preposterous one, I believe that a Sydney professor, who is at the head of one of the great Departments in New South Wales, took shares in the undertaking, and advised others to do likewise. We may form some idea of the value of some scientific opinions when a professor will support a scheme of that kind. In the past it used to be said that there were two great pests in New South Wales - the Abbott family and the rabbit family - and it was not known which was the worst. For the benefit of the uninitiated, I may explain that the Abbott family was a great squatting family in that State. I am not prepared to allow a scientist to disseminate a disease throughout Australia which may destroy other animals besides rabbits, and thus substitute a plague for a pest ; but if the experiments which Dr. Danysz has in view are carried out under proper safeguards, I see no objection to them, and if Dr. Anderson Stuart and Dr. Tidswell finally determine that the disease which he wishes to introduce can be safely disseminated, I shall riot object to its dissemination. Of course, those who eat rabbits have an interest in this matter; but I think it would be better for them to eat wholesome and cheap mutton, and, if we can benefit the pastoral and agricultural industry without doing injury to any other industry, or to the public health, we should take every means to do so.

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