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Thursday, 16 November 1939

Work of City Mission at Schools.

More than 1,200 school children, many of whom would be classified as under-nourished by medical men, received hot soup yesterday in eight of Sydney's industrial suburbs. The soup filled a serious gap in the diet of many. livery winter's day these children receive a bowl of soup - rich meat and vegetable soup - through the enterprise of the Sydney City Mission. The soup is distributed from eight kitchens established in mission halls close to the schools in Alexandria, Balmain, Camperdown, Chippendale, Newtown, Paddington, Surry Hills, and Waterloo.

An inspection yesterday showed that the lunches which the children bring to school comprise little more than bread - sometimes bread and butter, but more often bread and dripping or bread and jam. Meat sandwiches are rare, and hot drinks are unobtainable. In the present cold weather the soup supplied free by the City Mission fulfils an urgent need.

The service is made possible by public contributions to the Mission's Winter Belief Fund and the self-sacrificing energy of scores of voluntary workers.

I mentioned these matters because the honorable member for Parkes said members of the Opposition were not alone in feeling sympathy with the more unfortunate sections of the community. But what is the use of the fine speeches of Government supporters? When they leave the chamber they forget all about the unemployed, but the misery of those people goes on all the time. Now honorable members opposite are worrying about schemes for sending abroad what they term our " surplus " primary products. There is no surplus while our own children need food. The Government should be considering schemes to put an end to starvation among the men, women and children of this country. The farmers want to sell their butter. How better could they dispose of it than in feeding our own people? Yet the Government does nothing. Whenever we of the Opposition urge that something should be done to relieve suffering, we are told that there is no money, but when the war broke out the Government was able to find £60,000,000 in one year. Mr Casey gave the impression that there was no limit to the money that could be found for the war. He claimed to have a blank cheque for defence, but no money can be found for starving women and children. Is this the best the Government is able to offer the people ? Is this what the men who go abroad will have to return to? We can all remember the promises that were made to the men who served in the last war. Honorable members opposite will say, no doubt, that everything possible is being done, but let us consider for a moment the food relief scale in operation in New South Wales. On the 1st August last, this scale was increased, the allowance to single men being actually raised from 7s. 6d. to 8s. 6d. a week. That is for food, but no provision is made for rent. The unemployed man must find shelter where he can, and must also find clothes to wear. The so-called humane Government in New South Wales is of the same political complexion as the Commonwealth Government, but its humanity is equal only to increasing the scale from 7s. 6d. a week to 8s. 6d. There is a graduated scale which rises to 97s. a fortnight for a married man1 with eleven children. The increases in the case of such a family work out at a fraction of a penny a. day for each unit. How does the Government propose to improve the conditions of the people ? The Acting Minister for Supply (Sir Frederick Stewart), while he was still a private member, suggested that there should be set up in this country a Federal Food Council, similar to that in Great Britain, to make periodical investigations of the prices of foodstuffs, but since his elevation to cabinet rank he seems to have forgotten all about .the suggestion. For some time, the Government has interested itself in a. scheme to secure physical fitness in the manhood of the nation. The idea is, not to give them the food which is necessary to physical fitness, but to make them do physical jerks. The Government's idea in this respect is not shared by members of the medical fraternity, as is shown by the following passage which appeared in the Sydney Sun on the 4th March last: -

Poverty is the greatest single cause of disease and death in the world to-day, says a doctor, in a study of the relation of health to property, in the Medical Journal of Australia to-day. " We must show that any attempt to get physical fitness is a farce," he says, " unless everyone, especially every child is adequately fed. " Australia is committed to a policy of rearmament. The Government must be told in a way it cannot ignore, that its most fundamental need is for fit men, and that it cannot have fit men until it can assure adequate food, decent shelter and work for all."

Tlie honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) said that 50 per cent, of enlistments to the 2nd Australian Imperial Force were from among the unemployed.


Mr White - That was for one unit only.







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