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Thursday, 14 May 1970


Mr WENTWORTH (MACKELLAR, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Social Services) - My attention has been directed to this matter. Dr Clair Isbester is a doctor of considerable standing and her views have to be taken into consideration. I have had a look at the material which she was criticising. The position is that there has been concern expressed in certain quarters that Aboriginal women wean their babies too late. This was particularly so because, whether by reason of the nutritional factors affecting the mother or through other causes, the protein content of Aboriginal milk was inclined to decline rather more rapidly than that of European mothers. However there is a countervailing consideration that particularly where there is a fly borne infection the food can become contaminated and there is something to be said for postponing weaning in this regard. I have looked very carefully at the illustrated cards which were produced and circulated in this campaign and I am inclined to think myself - this is a layman's opinion - that there may be something in what Dr Isbester has said. Therefore last night 1 took the step of asking my colleagues, the Minister for Health and the Minister for the Interior, to have a look at this matter to see what could or should be done in regard to it. I think there is a phrase which is normally used: Who should decide when doctors disagree? It has been used in this House in a different context. In this matter I am sure that a proper medical inquiry will establish the truth, and I am not able at this present moment to say what is right and what is wrong.







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