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Tuesday, 9 May 1961


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Monaro) . - Mr. Speaker, I deal to-night with the tragic stab in the back administered to the Australian dairy industry by this Government through the unexpected publication this week of an extraordinary but official booklet bearing the cunning title, " Eat Better For Less ". Among its many other deplorable features, this official publication, backed with all the authority of the Menzies-McEwen Government, has the wickedness - and I can use no term less strong than that - to deceive people and incite them to stop eating butter, and to incite and encourage them to use the substitute, margarine.


Mr Hasluck - You do not think you are exaggerating, do you?


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - No, I do not. The Minister asks whether I thi:-k I am exaggerating. I do not know whether he has read the booklet, but I propose to read to the House all the relevant passages in order to substantiate my claims. The booklet also incites and deludes people into giving their children powdered skim to drink instead of pure cow's milk. People are advised by the booklet to do these things so that they will save money. a~.d they are told at the same time that they will get just as much nutriment. This contention, that they will get just as much nutriment, is, of course, false, lt is a disgrace that the Australian Government should give wide-spread publicity, by means of this booklet issued with the Government's authority, to this falsity, and that it should permit such a falsity to circulate widely, to the grave ir.jury of every decent, hard-working dairy farmer in this community. If the advice given in this booklet is followed, sales of butter in Australia will fall away to practically nothing. They will fall to the extent that the advice in the booklet is followed. Every honorable member who is acquainted with the booklet will know that this is true.

I must admit that, to my mind, it was inconceivable at first that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), the Leader of the Country Party (Mr. McEwen) or the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate), who, I think, is chairman of the Government Members' Agricultural Committee, would permit this to go on. But the booklet speaks for itself. I shall read from it the whole of the relevant passages on which the statements 1 have made are based. First, the booklet is entitled, " Eat Better for Less ". The clear implication of that title is that if you follow the advice in the booklet your food will cost less and you will obtain more nutriment from it. There is no question that this is the inference to be drawn from the title - spend less money, buy the cheaper substitute, and you will get better nutriment by so doing.

Let me deal with the detailed items in the booklet. It begins by saying -

This booklet will tell you how to get the best food value for your money.

It clearly implies - and says, in fact - that while you follow the advice given you will get the best food value for your money. Then, dealing with milk, it says -

Value for Money - Milk.

Milk is a very important item in the diet and every effort should be made to ensure that the whole family drinks the amounts recommended. However, milk bills can mount up - especially for a large family. To economize, have you ever tried using powdered milk?

There is a direct encouragement to people to use powdered milk instead of fresh cow's milk. But the booklet goes further -

Powdered skim milk is the cheapest source of protein and calcium.

The booklet is advising people to use powdered skim milk instead of pure cow's milk.


Mr Hasluck - Do not Australian dairymen provide the raw materials?


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - They do.


Mr Griffiths - They give the skim milk to the pigs!


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - They do. The booklet continues -

It contains all the important nutrients of fresh milk except the fat and fat-soluble vitamins, of which the average diet has a good supply.

The booklet is telling you that you do not need the fat and fat-soluble vitamins that are contained in ordinary cow's milk, because they are present in the other foods that you eat.


Mr Mackinnon - Do not forget that this is written for people who want to economise.


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes, the whole point is that you economise, and that you get better food by doing so.


Mr Mackinnon - No, you do not; but you do economise.


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - And you get better food as well. The title of the booklet is "Eat Better for Less". It has two implications; first, that you eat better, and, secondly, that you economise. However, let me continue with the contents of the booklet. It says that powdered skim milk is quite good enough, because the fat and fat-soluble vitamins that are in ordinary cow's milk are also in good supply in the other foods that you eat. Then, to rub it in, to make perfectly sure that you do not give your children pure cow's milk, it goes on to say -

Use it-

That is powdered skim milk - reconstituted in cooking, in soups or serve a glass to the children with flavouring


Mr Griffiths - And add water!


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I dare say. If you add flavoring the children will be deceived into thinking that it is a better article than it really is. Then there is this cunning piece of advice -

If it is prepared 10 to 12 hours early and kept in the refrigerator, the flavour will more closely resemble that of fresh milk.

The food value will not be there, but the flavour will more closely resemble that of pure cow's milk, and the children will accordingly be deceived. The booklet continues -

Two ounces by weight or half an 8-ounce measuring cup of dried skim milk is equivalent to one pint of liquid skim milk

Then the booklet goes on to deal with cream, and it starts off -

Cream is an expensive food . . .

It advises you to eat the cheaper foods from which, it says, you will get better value for less money. It says that cream is an expensive food, thus discouraging you from buying it. The booklet continues -

Cream is an expensive food and is not a substitute for milk as it contains only the fat portion of the milk. To save on this expensive item, pour off and use the top milk for desserts etc.

The proper course, I should think, would be to shake the bottle so that the cream value would be distributed throughout the milk, but this booklet says, " Pour off the bit of cream on the top and use that for your desserts ". It continues -

Evaporated unsweetened milk, refrigerated and whipped, makes a cheap table cream.

Of course the booklet recommends that the cheap foods are the better ones, and here it recommends that you use evaporated unsweetened milk, refrigerated and whipped, instead of cream.


Mr Hasluck - That does not sound like the language of incitement.


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It does not?


Mr Hasluck - No. You said that this booklet was inciting.


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes, I deliberately used the word.


Mr Swartz - He does not know what it means.


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not know what it means?


Mr Hasluck - Does that sound as though it is inciting people?


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes, according to the meaning of the word " inciting ", as I know it, the booklet is inciting people to give children powdered skim milk by the glass instead of fresh cow's milk.

Now let me turn to butter. To emphasize the lesson with regard to this commodity, the booklet provides an illustration, but in letterpress it has only this to say -

Butter and table margarine are equally good sources of fat and vitamin A.

Of course, margarine is cheaper. They claim that butter and margarine are equally good. Therefore, they are clearly advising the people to eat margarine instead of butter.


Mr Mackinnon - That is your interpretation?


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes.


Mr Mackinnon - You represent a dairy constituency and you suggest that your electors should eat margarine?


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If there is any other interpretation, I should be glad to hear it.


Mr Mackinnon - Let us get that in writing. You are advising them to eat margarine?


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Don't be a fool.


Mr Mackinnon - You said it was equally good.


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Don't be so silly. The booklet claims that butter and table margarine are equally good sources of fat and vitamin A. It is advising you to buy margarine, the cheaper of the two products, and claims that butter and margarine are equally good. It makes this claim by clear deception. It gives the impression to the average reader that butter and margarine are equally good because only fat and vitamin A are mentioned. The booklet omits reference to any of the other essential, nutritious qualities of butter. It does not mention anywhere that the vitamin A in margarine is an artificial substitute, inserted in powder form, and bears no relation at all in nutritional value to the pure wholesome vitamin A provided by nature. I notice that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) laughs loudly.


Mr Freeth - I am interested in this learned dissertation on the difference between the two sources of vitamin A.


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - You disagree with that remark?


Mr Freeth - Certainly I do.


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister takes the- view that the powdered and artificial form of vitamin A in margarine is as good as the pure, natural vitamin A in butter?


Mr Hasluck - What is the difference?


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The natural product is always far better, and the Minister ought to be the first to know that. We in Australia are trying to encourage our people to eat natural, good foodstuffs - not cheap, artificial substitutes. The attitude of the Minister for the Interior and the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) has made plain to me something that I would not previously have believed - that the Government is not prepared to encourage people to eat the natural, good products of the Australian soil and sea. Instead it is arguing that the cheap, artificial substitute is equally good. That is why it will not withdraw this booklet.


Mr Hasluck - I am not arguing at all. I am only asking you questions.


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister is trying to squirm out of it. I will not allow him to do so.


Mr Hasluck - I am not trying to squirm out of anything. I am just asking you questions. What is the difference between one vitamin A and another?


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I asked you whether you thought that they were equally good, and you said that you did.


Mr Hasluck - Yes.


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Let it go at that. Butter contains many other nutritious elements. It is a natural, fine food, unequalled in food value. None of its other attributes are mentioned anywhere in this pamphlet.

Before I give to the House other quotations from this publication, some misconceptions need to be cleared away. One is the question of ministerial responsibility for the publication of this pamphlet. It might be thought that it was issued by mistake and without the knowledge of Cabinet. The fact is that at question time every day since this booklet was published attention has been directed to the damage that the booklet can do to the dairy industry, and to the falsity of the statements in it. Every member of the Ministry is fully aware that the booklet exists. The Minister for Health, far from agreeing to a request to withdraw it, has sought inside this chamber to justify and defend it. He will not withdraw the booklet. Instead, as honorable members learnt at question time this morning, he will arrange for its still wider distribution. Every Minister, by his silence, has given his approval to the course that has been announced by the Minister for Health and the Minister for the Interior.







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