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Rudd accuses Govt of complacency over bird flu threat
Time: 2005-9-12 13:40:19 -
        ELEANOR HALL: Labor's Foreign Affairs Spokesman Kevin Rudd says the Federal Government has been complacent about Avian Influenza, and is warning today that more has to be done to stop the disease spreading.

    The bird flu has killed around 60 people in South East Asia in the last 18 months, and there's now evidence it's spread through China and into Russia.

    Now the Labor Party has proposed a five-point plan for combating the threat, as David Mark reports.

   DAVID MARK: Avian Influenza, or bird flu, is a ticking time bomb.

   Around 140 million chickens who carry the H5N1 virus have been destroyed in South East Asia, but that hasn't stopped more than 100 people catching the disease in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, killing almost 60.

    But experts agree up to 100 million people could be killed worldwide, if the virus mutates with an existing human flu strain.

     Releasing his five-point plan today, Labor's Foreign Affairs spokesman, Kevin Rudd, said Avian Influenza was a national security and public health risk.

     KEVIN RUDD: ?to Australia, to the region and to the world. Public health authorities around the world, and international health authorities such as the World Health Organisation, are increasingly warning of the dimensions of the risk and the threat which it poses to the governments and peoples of the world.

     DAVID MARK: Kevin Rudd says Labor's concern about Avian Influenza isn't shared by the Australian Government

    KEVIN RUDD: I've got to say, most of the analyses that I've now read from the scientific and policy literature suggests that if Avian Influenza becomes a flu pandemic, the economic, political and national security implications, as well as the public health implications arising from this influenza, would be significant indeed.

     We think that we've seen to date some evidence of complacency on the part of Mr Downer. We think that on the regional front that complacency must stop. That's why we put to the Government now our five-point action plan for the region and ask them to take that onboard.

    DAVID MARK: Kevin Rudd says the first line of attack against the virus is in South
            
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