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Friday, 6 March 1942

Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) .- I hope that before the House rises this evening the Minister for Commerce (Mr.

Scully) will issue the regulation to lift the ban on the sale of Werribee beef. .1 am familiar with the story of Werribee beef because I happened to be a commissioner of the Melbourne and Metropolitan .Board of Works which controls the farm upon which the cattle are depastured. That semi-governmental instrumentality lost £100,000 as the result of being compelled to sell prime cattle valued at £20 or £30 a head for 20s. or 30s. as " chicken feed " to people who proclaim themselves as the greatest egg producers in the Southern Hemisphere. Some years ago, the graziers started a scare that succeeded in stampeding the Government of Victoria into passing special legislation for the purpose of preventing the sale of this beef on the Victorian market.

Mr Hutchinson - The opposition of the graziers began when the price of beef on the Victorian market fell to very low levels, and they lost hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Mr CALWELL - The opposition of the graziers in Victoria began when the Metropolitan Board of Works sent its cattle to the market at a time when beef was scarce and the graziers hoped to reap rich profits from the sale of their stock. They concluded that if they could prevent the marketing of the cattle owned by the Board of Works, they would receive higher prices for their beasts. At any rate, they succeeded in their campaign, which was based upon fallacious grounds. No scientific evidence was produced to justify the statement that the beef was in any way injurious to the health of human beings. The health of the people could have been injured, as the result of consuming the beef, only if they had eaten it raw. Boiling water will kill the tape-worm in the beef, and very few people eat beef which has not been roasted or baked. A much higher temperature than boiling point is required in order properly to roast or bake beef.

Mr Hutchinson - Would the honorable member agree that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research should conduct a test of the cattle from the irrigated portion of the farm?

Mr CALWELL - In my opinion, it is not necessary for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to make the test, because Professor Woodruff, of the

Melbourne University, leading medical authorities attached to the Eliza and Walter Hall Trust, and every leading medical authority in Australia with one exception, when asked to report, have declared that the meat is not injurious to the health of the public and that there is no reason why it should not be sold. The one exception to whom I referred is Sir John Harris, M.L.C.,but then, he is not a leading medical authority. He is the only doctor who, to my knowledge, has expressed a contrary opinion.

Sitting suspended from 6.18 to 7.30 p.m.

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