Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise tonight to make some comments about the very sad death last week of two people from listeriosis, a food-borne illness. These two people were over the age of 70 years and they had multiple underlying health conditions. They lived in New South Wales and Victoria.
Listeriosis is a complex illness because it has multiple potential sources of the bacteria. It is a bacterium, listeria monocytogenes, that unfortunately can live in refrigerated environments and is very impervious to being removed by normal cleaning methods. It is really quite difficult to manage it as a source. It is ubiquitous in soil and it is also ubiquitous in many animals. It is something that must be managed very carefully from a public health point of view.
I have a few comments about the management of that outbreak from the Tasmanian Government. The Premier and minister, Guy Barnett, both had a press conference on 24 July when the outbreak was first made known to the community by the media. Primary Industries minister, Guy Barnett, confirmed that Tasmanian salmon products were the source of the two deaths, but he would not provide further information about the source. He made the comment, he said:
I won't go into those details. It is obviously a very important matter, but what I will say is the Department of Primary Industries has investigated the matter.
There has been no breach of the law in terms of food safety in the production of salmon in Tasmania.
And he wanted to say that food safety is a top priority for the Government.
The Premier at that press conference also made comments. He said:
Investigations had already cleared the Tasmanian producers involved of any breach of national health standards.
I make the point - and I did at the time - that it was very premature of the Premier to make those comments because it had only just been announced and it beggared belief that a full and comprehensive investigation could have been done in the time available.
Can I clarify that I have seven minutes for this debate?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - No, there is one minute to go. It finishes at 7 o'clock.
Dr WOODRUFF - Even though I started?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - The House has one hour for debate.
Dr WOODRUFF - The point I want to make since I do not have time to go into the details is that our management of this issue in Tasmania has been very poor. Both the Premier and Mr Barnett have been making contradictory statements. The day after on the 25th the Premier made comments and he said that:
It is important to note the information to date while it indicates a link to Tasmanian salmon, all relevant authorities within the national jurisdiction are working towards the matter and the investigation is ongoing at a national level.
Clearly it had not been clarified. The public must have confidence that -