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Thursday, 18 July 1946

Mr BERNARD CORSER (Wide Bay) . - It is my duty to give publicity to a system that is being operated in this country to-day, for which the Government must accept responsibility. It would be hard to conceive of more degrading tactics being employed. The Rationing Commission is taking action that is designed to make law-breakers of honest and fair-minded business people. In fact, business men may at any time be made the victims of traps that are set and misrepresentations that are uttered by " urgers ". . Among the employees of the Rationing Commission is a law-breaking woman who visited a butcher shop in

Maryborough, Queensland,' as did another woman in some Victorian cities not long ago. She pleaded with the shop assistant for some meat. Her appeal was the more pathetic in that it was made on behalf of her husband and child. She said that she had travelled a long way, and had no coupons. The assistant, a man of high repute who has a wife and four children, was prevailed upon to take pity on her and give her 14 oz. of steak. Mocking him, this government employee profusely thanked him. In order to make a further conquest, she then visited another butcher and repeated her appeal to this decent man's humanitarian instincts. Subsequently she revisited her victims -in the company of a government inspector, and laid charges against them. I am not complaining of inspectors doing their duty ; but I do object to the Govern"ment employing " stooges " who adopt the contemptible methods employed by this woman. She later visited in Maryborough a. leading storekeeper, to whom she "appealed for cigarettes, and tobacco for herself and her husband, offering at least £5 for a carton of cigarettes and more foi the tobacco which she.said that she and her husband smoked. She used all her persuasive powers to induce this storekeeper to become a law-breaker, but her efforts failed. She herself was a law-breaker in this instance; and she was employed by the Government for that purpose. If such low tactics are to be used to make law-breakers, the standard of behaviour in this country has degenerated. Some officials will descend to any depth of degradation in order to achieve their ends. If the Government does not countenance such dishonest tactics by its employees, which have been used for many months in different States, and in regard to which complaints have already reached Canberra, what action is it prepared to take to prevent their continuance? The two butchers whom I have mentioned are to appear before the court on the 24th July. I ask that these regrettable 'cases be immediately expunged from the records. Because of the early hearing of the cases, I have deemed it necessary to hold the attention of the House for these few minutes to-night.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 12.13 a.ra. (Friday).

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