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Thursday, 26 September 1974
Page: 1435

Senator COTTON (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I address my question to the Minister for Agriculture. The Minister is concerned about the introduction of exotic diseases into Australia, because a little while ago he answered a question concerning the proposed establishment of the Bureau of Animal Health. Equally he knows that the Senate is concerned about the problem of the introduction of exotic diseases by animals that might come into Australia from countries adjacent to Australia. I think that this is a general concern that is shared by the whole of the Senate. The Minister will be aware of the fact that foot and mouth disease exists in Bali and therefore that at any point of time it is possible that we might have an outbreak of it in Australia. I ask the Minister: In view of his problem concerning the staffing of the proposed Bureau of Animal Health, will he give consideration to organising a voluntary pool arrangement among Australian veterinarians in order to cope with an emergency situation should there be an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Australia? I can assure the Minister that the veterinarians would be prepared to co-operate. I think it would be a useful exercise if he were to embark upon it.

Senator WRIEDT -I would not deny that there is merit in the suggestion made by Senator Cotton. I would, though, say that recently, because of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Bali, the Government initiated discussions with the Indonesian Government and, as a result of those discussions, it was announced, I think by Senator Willesee, that the Australian Government will assist the Indonesian authorities to combat foot and mouth disease in their country. Probably that is the most positive thing that we can do. Nevertheless, Senator Cotton's suggestion is worthy of consideration, and I shall certainly consider it.

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