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Wednesday, 2 May 1973
Page: 1617

Mr LLOYD (Murray) - Previously in the House I and others have referred to the need for a maximum security animal quarantine station and for a diagnostic laboratory. The honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Kerin) referred to this recently. Developments have taken place at both Norfolk Island and more recently Christmas Island, and I understand that the Public Works Committee will be investigating possible sites for such establishments in the next few months. But if these developments take place they will form only a small part of an overall policy for livestock in this country. I believe that we need a national Livestock policy, and the best way to co-ordinate and develop this policy is to establish a Commonwealth veterinary service. The requirements of the Australian livestock industries and of the countries to which we export animal products insist that to safeguard the future of these industries and exports a national body with overall control is essential. Meat offers the best long term export hope of the livestock industries and of our exports generally. At the present time meat suffers from the confusion of divided Federal government departments and Federal-State control. At the present time Federal authority is split between the Department of Primary Industry and the Department of Health, with the Department of Science involved in research through the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Overall authority is also divided between Federal and State governments, and at State level some States have divided control between Departments of Agriculture and Health.

Matters which would come within the compass of a Commonwealth veterinary service are matters such as live animal exports and imports, semen exports and imports, meat inspection and classification, tuberculosis and brucellosis eradication programs, and animal progeny testing schemes. As a general rule I am opposed to increased Federal control, but overseas countries are not interested in our

Federal-State relationships or in divided Federal departmental control. They want one national authority to contact, one national policy, one body to talk to, someone who can speak for Australia on these matters.

The meat hygiene inspection requirements of the United States and other countries reveal quite clearly that foreign governments will accept only a national authority. The developing trade in semen imports and exports has confirmed this point. The foreshadowed restrictions by meat importing countries against meat from countries not declared free of tuberculosis and brucellosis will compound our problems in the future unless national control and direction are provided. Because of the importance to Australia of an accelerated and successful eradication scheme the Commonwealth should assume full financial responsibility for the program. I know the program is accelerating, but to beat possible deadlines by these overseas countries I believe it has to be accelerated even more. I think the only way for this to happen is for the Commonwealth to provide the finance, thereby assuming the responsibility. I doubt whether the States would oppose this proposition because of the problems and the cost involved.

Other advantages of a single national authority such as a Commonwealth veterinary service would be found in relation to meat inspection. At the present time there is confusion on meat inspection between Federal and State inspectors. I hope that one byproduct of a single authority would be a single inspection standard for meat for both home consumption and export. At the present time in some States carcases condemned for export can be sold on the local market. I do not say that Australians are being sold unhygienic meat or unsafe meat, but sooner or later we must adopt a common standard. Another field in which a veterinary service or a bureau of animal health could have a function is in an animal progeny testing scheme. A national beef recording scheme has been initiated. If there is also a beef progeny testing scheme it should be a national one to avoid the confusion of our present dairy progeny testing scheme. If we could only achieve national guidelines and co-ordination with dairy progeny testing I think we could achieve far more than we are at the present time with 3 States trying to do the job and none of them doing it as successfully as it could be done if we co-ordinated with the different breeds. A national meat classification or grading scheme could also be the responsibility of such a body, for the benefit of both the producer and the consumer of meat in Australia. There are possibly other duties for such a bureau or service. However, even if some of those mentioned could come under the control of a national body with a clear national policy it would be a major step in assisting the livestock industries to play their important role in the future of our country.

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