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Wednesday, 25 March 1942

Mr HUTCHINSON (Deakin) .- I desire to revert to the subject of beef measles, or rather " measly " beef from the Werribee farm. 1 had the privilege of hearing the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) speak upon this subject in the Parliament of Victoria in 1933 or 1934. Although his subjectmatter is much the same, he has lost some, of his former vim. The farm at Werribee was not the first place in Australia where beef measles were discovered. In fact, the initial discovery was mad.e in Adelaide in 1924, and the subsequent action taken in South Australia could, with advantage, have been copied by the Metropolitan Board of Works in Melbourne. After the discovery, the farm in Adelaide ceased to produce beef. Some years later, a further trial was made, with unsatisfactory results. Beef measles were still prevalent there. Since that time, no beef has been raised on the farm.

Mr Pollard - Does the honorable member seriously compare the meat problems of Adelaide with those of Melbourne?

Mr HUTCHINSON - Whatever the quantities of filth poured on to every acre, the principle remains the same. In Adelaide a treatment plant was installed, but to the best of my knowledge, beef production has not been resumed on the farm. To members who do not know exactly what beef measles are, I should explain that there is a disease known as tape worm which affects humans. Through sewage, it is communicated to the beast,' and from the beast is communicated again to man, if the meat is eaten in a semi-raw condition. Honorable members will agree that tape worm should be avoided at all costs, and South Australia took drastic measures in order to prevent its dissemination. Tape worm could be avoided in Melbourne if a proper sewage treatment, plant were installed. Any person who has visited, the Werribee farm know* that the human excrement from Melbourne flows direct to it from the Melbourne sewerage system. Tons and tons of this stuff pour into small paddocks. Then the feed is allowed to grow up through the excrement, and after the elapse of some weeks the stock are turned on to the paddocks. Nine or ten years ago, with other members of Parliament, I visited this farm and I well remember that, when the late Charles Hawker kicked aside a tuft of grass, the ground beneath was simply alive with - honorable members can use their own imagination. It is on this stuff that the cattle are fattened. When the conditions existing at the farm became known the people of Melbourne, whether on or against medical advice, refused to eat the beef from the farm, and it has been estimated that the resultant loss to the cattleraising industry in Victoria was more than £1,000,000. I am confident that if the ban on the sale of beef from the State farm be lifted, we shall have a repetition of what happened years ago, because the conditions existing at the time are now well known throughout the Melbourne metropolitan area.

Mr Pollard - Would the conditions be any worse there than in a pig-sty or a poultry run?

Mr HUTCHINSON - Yes ; at least sties and poultry runs are cleaned out occasionally. As has been stated by the honorable member for Darwin, the market gardener is not allowed to use nightsoil on his garden. Yet, on nightsoil cattle are fattened and were once sold as beef to the Victorian public. There is no prevention of this disease. It cannot be diagnosed in the live beast and even after the beast has been slaughtered it is impossible to discover many of the cysts which cause the disease without mutilating the carcass. That is a brief history of the experience in Victoria.

I make wy stand to-night, not on the possibility of injury to public health - there are different opinions on that subject and I should, like to read the results of the investigation of the herds at Werribee by the veterinary officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research - but on the statement made last Sunday to the effect that this beef ia to be suppliedtothe troops, not only Australian troops,, hut. also the. troops of our ally, the United States of America. Is the worldtobetoldthatweshallfeedourown troops and thoseof our allies on beef which presents a danger, however slight, to their health, and which the civil population of Melbourne has previously refused toeat? If this beef istobe suppliedtothetroopsitwillnotbewell received by them or their families; or the people of this country generally. Before I shall rest satisfied I musthave from the Minister a complete denial that that is to bethe policy.

In country towns which are sewered the, installation of purification plants is compulsory. The Adelaide sewerage farm was compelled to install a purification plant. Why should the Werribee farm escape similar liability? If this beef must be sold, and there are people in Melbourne who want it, it should be killed and marketed separately and not brought into competition with station beef.Such competition would do more damage to the beef industry in months than the whole of the Werribee farm is worth. That is a. fair offer. Ifsoldinseparateshops,orifit were marked "Werribee", the beef could be bought by those who want it and the public would know what they were buying. I join with the honorable member for Darwin in saying to, the Government, " Do not let this, beef go. to the troops, because if you do you will arouse the opposition of the Australian people, who will rightly rebel against suchanoutrageousproposal.

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