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Thursday, 2 August 1906
Page: 2247

Mr THOMAS - Quite so. It is tantamount to the selling of goods under false pretences. I trust that the day will come when punishment will be meted out to those who send such advertisements to the newspapers for publication, and also to those who actually publish them, for they must know that they cannot be true. If a man sells milk containing a certain percentage of water, he is liable to a penalty. It is only reasonable that he should be punished, for the lives of children given adulterated milk are undoubtedly endangered. But we need to do something more. If we allow infantile and artificial foods to be imported and used when they really contain no nourishment, the result must be very serious. These foods are given to children in good faith by their mothers and nurses, with the result that, in some cases, the little ones are practically starved. I have no definite figures as to infantile mortality in Australia, but a few days ago I read a very interesting speech delivered by the Right Honorable John Bums, before a National Conference which met in England to deal with the question of infantile mortality, and in that speech some remarkable figures were given. Mr. Burns stated that no less than 100,000 children die in England every year from neglect, carelessness, or thoughtlessness. He pointed out t'hat the details of children less than twelve months old were more numerous than those occurring between the ages of one year and eighteen years, and that from 30 per cent, to 40 per cent, died in the first five years, so that, in the words of Mr. Burns, the weakest, smallest, and dearest carried the burden of death. I have no figures-

Mr Fisher - The time has passed when it is necessary to quote figures bearing on this subject.

Mr THOMAS - That is so. Although the infantile mortality in Australia is, perhaps, not so great as in England, I have no doubt that it is still very serious. I am not one of those who would lav at the door of patent medicines' and infantile foods the deaths of all our children. There are other contributing causes ; but, at the same time, I think I am correct in stating that these foods play a very serious part in the massacre of the little ones. We hear in Australia a great deal about the need for encouraging emigrants from the old country to settle on our lands. That may be very desirable, but we can do a great deal in the direction) of increasing our population bv taking steps to save the lives of our children, many of whom die soon after birth. It may not be possible to give full effect to some of my proposals ; there may be a difficulty in ascertaining the exact value of some infantile and artificial foods, or the value of certain patent medicines as remedial agents. If that be so, it would be idle to press those matters. Doubtless, however, the medical men who are members of the House will be able to throw some light on that phase of the question. In any event, it is possible for us to see that all imported articles of the kind described in the motion shall have clearly set out on their labels what are their component parts. In addition to infantile and artificial foods, and patent medicines, there are other articles, alleged to alleviate suffering, with which we ought to deal. I regret that the Government should have given way some time aso in regard to the delivery of letters addressed to Messrs. Freeman and Wallace. It is a pity that they should have permitted letters of that firm to be transmitted through the post. I think that Messrs. Freeman and Wallace are even a greater fraud than " Tattersall." Some persons - perhaps one in 20,000 or 30,000 - obtain something for their money when they invest in a ticket for one of Tattersall 's consultations, but no one has derived the slightest benefit from the things advertised by Messrs. Freeman and Wallace. It would be well if the law required that such goods shall bear a label showing exactly what are their component parts. I believe that the public desire that infantile foods and everything in the way of patent medicines shall bear labels describing their ingredients, so that they may know what they are buying. It will be remembered that some time ago some condensed milk was imported into Victoria, and that, when seized by the authorities and analyzed, it was found that children fedon it ' would practically be starved. We cannot make our provisions in regard to the sale of foods too drastic A nation's greatest asset is. not its silver and gold, nor its land and houses, but the healthy and' strong men, women, and children who form its people. 1 believe that, if the examination suggested in the motion is strictly carried out by the Government, it will tend to make our population healthier and stronger than it is.

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