Page 4660 - Week 14 - Thursday, 24 November 2005

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In Mozambique, by contrast, a much poorer country, malaria is still a really serious problem. That is because they feel they cannot really use it because frequent flooding would wash the DDT out of the walls of the huts, they lack the infrastructure that would reduce its danger in the environment and there is an incredible amount of human ignorance. For instance, although insecticide-soaked bed nets are found to be the best way of controlling infection spread, a lot of people do not understand that yet. They do not see the connection between malaria and mosquitoes, and that is a whole area of concern.

Mrs Dunne tended to blame First World environmentalists for the high incidence of malaria in the Third World. I think she should also be concerned about the federal government’s and this government’s failure to act on the production of greenhouse gases. A recent article in the journal Nature says that climate change is driving up rates of malaria and that we can expect many more deaths in poor countries, particularly in Asia, west South America, sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian Ocean coast. The worst outbreak of dengue fever for years has occurred in South Asia as a result of the floods, which are going to be much more common.

There are some other factors contributing to the increase in malaria. The focus of First World based pharmaceuticals is on producing the drugs that sell well in the rich world—Viagra is a good case in point—rather than those needed in the Third World, because guess where the profits are? That is what companies do.

We have also had a development model that has not led to increased sanitation, decent housing and safe water supplies in poor countries. There is the sale of counterfeit drugs which people do just to earn a living in the streets in poor countries, there is a reliance on chemical control of biological problems and, of course, there is climate change. Many of these can be slated home to governments and influential organisations in rich countries. To simplistically place the problem of malaria at the feet of the environment movement is, I think, misinformed.

Planning and Environment—Standing Committee

MR SESELJA (Molonglo) (6.02): I would like to talk a little bit about some of the discussion we have had in this place today about the P&E committee, and attendance as such. It has been quite fascinating to me the amount of attention that has been paid to it by ministers in this government. I just want to put some things on the record. It has been mainly Mr Gentleman, but also Mr Stanhope and Mr Corbell, who has been leading the charge.

The first claim was about me deferring debate of things. I have found two instances, including on Tuesday, where I have moved that debate be deferred, one of which was rejected, of course, and I have found at least one where the chair has done so. But the more substantive claim was about me not showing up to meetings; that I have not been bothered to show up to meetings. What I have done is to go through and check the attendances at all of the meetings, and I missed one. I believe there was a meeting on 11 January, when most people are on holidays, so I will take that one on the chin; I was on holidays. As for the rest, there were another six that I missed, and I guess that is what—

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