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Thursday, 20 April 1972
Page: 1279

Senator O'BYRNE (TASMANIA) - In directing my question to the Minister for Health I draw his attention to a statement made by United States sources that the radiation risk from mobile chest X-ray units is causing growing concern in the United States. The American College of Radiology has joined other health agencies calling for an end to the use of these units. As the campaign against tuberculosis in this country has been so successful because of the use of mobile chest X-ray units, will the Minister have medical scientists carry out an investigation into alternative methods of chest examination, such as skin tests, and furnish a report with the object of minimising radiation risks from that source in this country?

Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON - That is a very interesting question. It is true that the Commonwealth and States Tuberculosis Agreement which was entered into many years ago - it was during the time of the Chifley Government - has been given tremendous impetus through the years by successive governments. As a result the incidence of tuberculosis in Australia has been reduced dramatically. I may say that the State which led the way in the Commonwealth and States Agreement was Tasmania. I thought that I should acknowledge that fact because we have a former Minister for Health in the Tasmanian Government with us in the Senate. Senator O'Byrne's question referred to the risk of radiation from X-rays. Senator O'Bryne based his question on a comment he had read in an American journal. The issue is not a new one. It has been looked at very critically and it will continue to be looked at very critically by health services throughout the world. However, I will have it freshly referred to my Department for comment and I shall respond to it at an early date.

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