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Thursday, 26 March 1942

Senator GIBSON (Victoria) .- I have not previously been guilty of speaking on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, but to-night I wish to raise a matter of very great importance. I refer to the action that is being taken by the Government to override the Government of Victoria in regard to beef produced at the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works sewage farm at, Werribee. Before proceeding, I. wish to make it clear that I am not a cattle-grower to any extent, and do not represent cattle-growers, so that the matter does not affect me personally. I know the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works farm at Werribee, where many thousands of cattle are raised. The conditions under which these cattle are raised are absolutely filthy, and it is disgraceful that the Government intends to supply meat so produced to our troops.

Senator Cameron - Does the honorable senator pit his opinion against the opinions of experts?

Senator GIBSON - I live not far from the farm, and I have frequently travelled over it, so that I know what I am talking about. The men in our armed forces must take the meat that is supplied to them. They have no option, as the civilian has. I ask the Government to recall the cause of the Indian Mutiny. Indian troops were ordered to bite cartridges which were coated with grease. We all know of the bloodshed caused. No man who knows anything about cattle and the conditions at the Werribee farm will eat Werribee beef. The farm covers an area of 20,000 acres; half of it is dry and half of it is wet. The disease of beef measles with which these cattle are infected is caused by the tape-worm which infests humans. Every day, people in 500,000 houses in the city of Melbourne flush their closets, and the sewage is emptied on about 16 acres of ground at Werribee without being submitted to treatment of any sort. Consequently, that small area becomes covered with a putrid mass of human excrement. About 2,000,000 gallons of sewage is emptied on to a 16-acre plot daily. At the end of a period of about fourteen days, the cattle are turned out to graze on the grass on to which this waste matter is deposited. The tape-worm from the sewage creeps up the grass and is eaten by the cattle, which then contract beef measles. Some of the medical men, on whose opinion Senator Cameron seems to rely, say that when these worms are cooked they are harmless. I do not want to eat them, cooked or raw. The only way to eradicate beef measles in Werribee sewage farm cattle would be to remove the cause - the tape-worm. That could be done only by drenching every person in the city of Melbourne as a farmer would drench his sheep. I ask honorable senators to imagine the condition of an area of 16 acres covered with a mass of untreated sewage. The solid substances in the material are held by the roots of the grass, whilst the surplus water percolates to it lower level and then runs out, to the sea. Corio Bay is as black as ink for about half a mile from the shore as the result of this seepage, and the streams which run on that lower level would make a fair substitute for ink. Nevertheless, the Government expects men in our armed forces to eat, the meat produced on that farm. I hope that they will not touch it. At one time, the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works sold the milk from cattle which were raised on its farm, but the health authorities soon stopped the practice. Vegetables which were grown there were sold to the people of Melbourne, but that has also been prevented. The farm produces a great growth of vegetable matter, because the quantity of excrement that is deposited on 1 acre of that ground in one night is equivalent to 1 ton of sulphate of ammonia or about 2 tons of superphosphate. In fourteen days, the grass grows about 3 inches. After this growing period, the bullocks are turned out to graze on it. Subsequently, they will go to Melbourne and the beef will be sold, calen, and returned to "Werribee through the sewer. I ask Ministers whether they would eat that meat. The late Mr. Charles Hawker and I went over that farm on one occasion. The day was not very warm, but when Mr. Hawker turned over a sod with a foot, it was fly-blown.

Senator Aylett - How many degrees of heat are required to kill a worm?

Senator GIBSON - If the honorable senator is prepared to eat cooked worms, he may do so; I will not. The cattle produced on the sewage farm are magnificent. The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of "Works has stud herds of Herefords, Polled Angus, Shorthorns and other breeds, but it is not permitted to market them at present. I venture to say that, if the board established a shop in Melbourne and offered its beef for sale, it would not get a solitary customer. T should like to see the Ministers who are overriding the Victorian Governmentpurchase that meat for their own wives. I guarantee that their wives would not cook it. There is a remedy for this position, however. The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of "Works could rear stud stock on this farm to the weaning age of six months, and could then sell it to cattle-raisers in dry country where it could remain for at least two years before being marketed as clean.

Senator Allan MACDONALD - Where do the measles appear on an animal?

Senator GIBSON - Little cysts form in the flesh of the cattle, and it is possible to cut the meat without cutting a tape-worm. I recall the time when the Board of Works marketed 200 bullocks a week in Melbourne, and I remember an auctioneer saying that he could go round the sale-yard with his eyes shut and pick out the Werribee bullocks by the smell of their pens. It was easy to do that, because the odour was abominable. I do not suppose that any member of the present Government, with the possible exception of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Seam;), has inspected that sewage farm. If

Ministers did so, I am sure that they would not force the Victorian Government to market the cattle from the farm for beef. I hope that the Government will reconsider its decision from a common-sense point of view. The Housewives Association of Melbourne has been pressing for the marketing of this beef, but its members know nothing at all about the matter. I invite them and the members of this Government to come with, me on some warm day and have afternoon tea under the willow trees beside one of these turgid drains. I undertake that, if they do so, they will change their tune about Werribee beef.

SenatorLAMP (Tasmania) [S.29J. - On several occasions I have referred in this chamber to the broadcasting of news services in Tasmania. I now appeal to the Postmaster-General and Minister for Information (Senator Ashley) to impres.3 upon the Australian Broadcasting Commission the stupidity of broadcasting market reports before the news sessions. Many listeners tune in their radio sets a few minutes before the news is broadcast at 12.30 p.m., 1 p.m., and 1.30 p.m., and sometimes market reports are broadcast for 10 or 15 minutes prior to the 12.30 p.m. news session. I suggest, therefore, that the* Australian Broadcasting Commission should endeavour to make the national programme as attractive as possible at that period of the day. It should not, bc difficult to arrange for the market reports to be broadcast after the news has been announced.

In the northern portion of Tasmania there are two commercial broadcasting stations, TEX and TLA, but they are off the air after 9 a.m. on Saturdays, whilst the national station, TNT, closes down from S.30 a.m. to 10 a.m. for essential maintenance work on the transmitter. The people residing in that portion of Tasmania require the services of a broadcasting station between those hours, and at least one station should remain on the air, because an occasion might arise when it would be necessary to make an important announcement to the public. The Victorian stations, 3GI Sale and 3AB Melbourne, can be heard satisfactorily in Tasmania at certain times, but not at others, and the people of Tasmania would not be required to listen to Victorian stations if the services of a local station could be made available to them. I suggest that maintenance work in connexion with the national station in northern Tasmania should be done at times other than Saturday mornings.

Motion - byleave - temporarily withdrawn.

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