1981 June: Tower Hill (Vic) Worker ill and others concerned about pesticides, 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T.

Fisheries and Wildlife Division

1st June 1981

Use of 24D and 245T by Exempt Employees

Our exempt workers through the Leading Hand have expressed concern regarding our continued use of 24D and 245T necessary for weed control at Tower Hill and other reserves in South West Victoria.

Along with myself they were somewhat concerned at the flippant if not patronizing reference to the hazards of chemical weedicides at the safety seminar conducted at Port Campbell, 1st May 1981 by *** from the Ministry.

The essence of his remarks in response to a question were that if Senior Government Officials said these chemicals posed no threat, then workers could be assured they were right! I will not unnecessarily lengthen this note by detailing some of the disasters and tragic consequences of such unswerving blind faith in officialdom.

One of our employees strangly suspects that quite serious problems concerning back pain, vomiting and nausea are linked to chemical use particularly 24D and 245T as such symptoms are concurrent with chemical use.

Mr *** indicated in his response to a phone query on 28/5/81 that Divisional Policy was that these chemicals were safe to use when administered in accordance with manufacturers instructions.

The Australian Workers Union in similar vein advise their members to only use these chemicals with full protection, where immediate washing facilities are available and when favourable weather conditions prevail. It is worth noting that they are at present developing a policy which may lead to the re-introduction of a ban.

Achnowledging that as employees our workers cannot object to an instruction to use the chemical in accord with manufacturers instructions, the employees at Tower Hill through the Leading Hand have asked me to seek written explantation of Divisional Policy. As I am directly responsible for the supervision of these employees and share their concern I too would appreciate such direction.

I would be much happier if the Division adopted a policy using alternatives where possible despite increased costs.