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Friday, 6 March 1942
Page: 296

Mr HUTCHINSON (Deakin) . - Discussing the proposal last week that Werribee beef should be marketed for public consumption, I asked the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Scully) to refrain from making a hasty decision. Whilst I would never impede any project of value to the war effort, we must be sure thai the reaction to any move will not bo greater than the action itself. On the last occasion when the scare of beef measles arose in Victoria, we know what happened. Not that there was a great danger to the health of the public of Melbourne, but people simply refused to eat the beef.

Mr Pollard - They could not get the beef. because it was taken off the market.

Mr HUTCHINSON - People could have obtained the beef if they had so desired. If the honorable member will examine the records, he will discover that the price of station beef declined greatly, and over a period of months the cattle industry of Victoria lost approximately £1,000,000 because of the scare. Fat cattle which were driven into the yards at Geelong on three or four occasions could not be sold. That serious position will recur if the Government decides to permit the marketing of Werribee beef. Alarm will again grip the public of Melbourne. They simply will not eat beef that has been fattened on the sewage farm, where conditions are not of the best, because danger to health must result. References have been made to an alarming shortage of beef in Australia and it has been suggested that, although the Werribee beef might not be sold to the public of Melbourne, it might be used for the purpose of victualling the Army.

Mr Pollard - Who said that?

Mr HUTCHINSON - The statement has been widely circulated. I should like the Minister for Commerce to issue a denial that it is intended to provide the Army with Werribee beef, because meat which has been rejected by the citizens of Melbourne should not be passed on to th, troops. I also ask the Minister to inform the House whether a decision has yet been reached, and the result of the negotiations which he conducted with the Government of Victoria.

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