Page 778 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 9 March 2005

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water quality scientist, Dr Marcus Scammell”. Dr Scammell is in fact a marine ecologist, which would be handy if we were growing coral in the catchment, or if we expected an infestation of bluebottles.

In recent times Dr Scammell has been best known for his research linking chemical contamination of drinking water with increased cancer rates in north east Tasmania—research bluntly rejected by the Australian Medical Association. The AMA said that his report had serious methodology flaws and that it had failed to demonstrate evidence of adverse health effects.

Another of Dr Scammell’s recent reports linked oyster deaths to aerial herbicide spraying of forests in Tasmania last year. Here is an interesting connection. It was labelled “alarmist and unscientific”—words that have a familiar ring about them—by a Tasmanian state government report initiated into the claims. The government found that the review, commissioned by oyster growers, contained major factual errors. The government said it had found absolutely no evidence of links between aerial spraying and oyster deaths, and no evidence of water supply contamination.

An independent analysis of Dr Scammell’s work—the leading scientist relied upon by the Canberra Times—by Queensland professor, Dr Paolo Ricci, described the findings of Dr Scammell as “opinionated manifesto”. Perhaps in addition to describing Dr Scammell as a leading scientist, the Canberra Times might have added some other adjectives—“controversial” perhaps.

MS MacDONALD: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Can the Chief Minister assure the Canberra community that the government is getting on with the job of restoring the catchment and looking after the interests of the Canberra community’s water supply?

MR STANHOPE: Yes I can. Some people are applauding us for our efforts.

Mrs Dunne: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I seek your guidance. Is this a reflection on this morning’s debate? It very closely covers the subject matter of this morning’s debate.

MR SPEAKER: It is clearly a response to a question. It is in the context of the question and it is related to the subject matter.

Mrs Dunne: But is the question therefore a reflection on the debate this morning?

MR SPEAKER: I do not think so.

MR STANHOPE: Some people are applauding us for getting on with restoring the catchment. Indeed, that praise commenced early. On Wednesday 5 November 2003, the week the Shaping our territory report was tabled, the ACT opposition said, “The ACT opposition has welcomed today’s release of the non-urban study steering committee’s final report Shaping our territory,” labelling it as a sound document providing clear steps forward for Canberra.

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