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Monday, 15 October 1973
Page: 2052

Mr KATTER (KENNEDY, QUEENSLAND) - I address my question to the Minister for Health. In view of the rumoured outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Bali and West Irian, will the honourable gentleman give the House and the people of Australia an assurance that the present protective measures will be highly intensified and that, if necessary, additional steps will be taken to prevent any possibility whatsoever of this disease spreading to Australia?

Dr EVERINGHAM (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for Health) - This continent stands to lose more than any other by the introduction of foot and mouth disease, not only because of the large numbers of stock that could be affected but also because our wildlife could be affected. We could be placed in the position of never being able to eradicate the disease. It would be far harder to eradicate it here than, for instance, in Britain where campaigns costing many millions of pounds have been mounted to eradicate that disease. My Department has been aware of this for a long time and has used far stricter measures than any other country to keep the disease out. When it was known that there was an outbreak in Bali these measures were intensified to the point where we received some rather mild complaints about people being harassed and inconvenienced. For example, it is necessary to look at every item of footwear to make sure that soil is removed in a way that cannot be done on a practical basis with people coming to this country from every part of the world. I will get a detailed statement regarding the position in West Irian. I am aware of recent reports on this matter and I will let the honourable gentleman have a definite answer. I assure him that there has been a tightening up of the regulations in respect to people coming from Bali.

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