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Thursday, 2 August 1906


Mr FISHER - It is that they are what some colonials would describe, with many adjectives, as " frauds." I am afraid, however, that if we proceed on the lines that have been suggested this afternoon, we shall be seriously interfering with the rights of private enterprise.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The law against murder interferes with private enterprise.


Mr FISHER - It certainly limits the opportunity of the offender to repeat the offence. I thank the honorable member for his interjection, since it reminds me that the man who commits murder generally does sr> in such a. way as to lead to his detection, whereas the pious frauds, who. in some cases, spend thousands in advertising their nostrums, and so delude unfortunate invalids, manage to escape.


Mr Hutchison - Some of them recover in spite of the medicines, which, as. the result of such advertisements, they are induced to take.


Mr FISHER - If the advertisements were confined to facts no objection could be taken to them. That, indeed, is all that we ask. We say that these articles should bear labels showing exactly what are their ingredients. It is well to know. from the speech of the honorable member for Laanecoorie, and also) from interjections that have been made, that the medical men in this House are unanimous in regard to this question.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not think that there has ever been a difference of opinion in regard to it.


Mr FISHER - Then we .are unanimously of opinion that the evil is a great one. That being so, why should we permit it to continue?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - There is no opposition to this motion, and I do not know why the honorable member should delay its passing. He is obstructing the proposal of one of his own party.


Mr FISHER - I took occasion recently to speak very strongly on this question in the State of which the honorable member for Parramatta is a representative, and I am prepared to back up the statements I made. We have no power to interfere with the administration of the health laws of the States ; the Minister knows that, unfortunately, we have practically no power to deal with this matter within any one State - that our action must be confined to importations.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - And to transfers from State to State.


Mr FISHER - That is one reason why this question should be discussed. I am pleased to say that. Queensland has done good work in preventing the sale of adulterated foods and of patent medicines which are worse than useless. I hope that all the States will take similar action. The people themselves desire that this step shall be taken, and it is difficult to understand why these evils should be allowed to continue year after year. The Minister says" that lie has ample powers to deal with these articles. I believe that his powers are certainly greater than thev were prior to the passing of the Commerce Act, but at the same time I would point out that it is not sufficient for him to say that we have the right to stop importations. By the exercise of that power, he will, in my opinion, do only half the work that is before us. It is necessary that almost every doubtful article shall be examined. Although wi indirectly employ a State analyst, we have no Government analyst for the Commonwealth. We require a much larger staff to attend to these matters, and such an expenditure would be fully justified.


Sir William Lyne - We employ ananalyst in each State in connexion with the Customs Department.


Mr FISHER - We have no Commonwealth Government analytical laboratory in which this work could be carried out, although it is true that we have analysts - and very capable men they are - in each of the States, who could make the necessary analyses. The Minister will agree with me that so far there has been no systematic attempt to analyze these patent medicines and foods. It is true that when special attention has been directed to a particular article action has been taken, and a great work has been done in this regard by Victoria. The Government of this State, as well as their analysts and other public officers, deserve the greatest credit for what they have done to preserve the health of the people, and under the Pure Foods Act, recently passed by the State Parliament, they will be able to do still better work. It becomes us as the Parliament having control of the Federal side of this question to see that we do not lag behind any of the States Legislatures in embodying in our laws the public sentiment in regard to it.







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