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Wednesday, 13 May 1942

Senator E B JOHNSTON (Western Australia) . - Any person who listened carefully to the debate on this subject to-night and became a resident of Victoria would, in view of the medical opinions quoted, probably become a vegetarian. The statements read by Senator Gibson during the debate were impressive, and had I been asked to vote solely on what I heard during that speech I should have voted without hesitation in support of the motion. However, there is an eminent health authority in the city of Melbourne, Dr. John Dale. Dr. Dale was Health Officer for the City of Perth for many years, but like many of the best-brained people in our neglected State of Western Australia he received a better appointment in Melbourne. I knew Dr. Dale personally in Western Australia and with him I visited a certain infectious diseases hospital in that State. There if no man in Australia to whom I would look with greater confidence on health matters than Dr. Dale.

Senator Allan MacDonald - His opinions were a bit contentious even while he was in Perth.

Senator E B JOHNSTON - Hisopinions were very pronounced on certain matters and did not always meet with the approval of the class to whom I would refer as the " slum landlords ". Dr. Dale's opinions were expressed for the good of the people, and I do not think that he would approve of any beef from the Werribee Farm being sold for human consumption if he thought there was the slightest risk.

Senator Gibson - Dr. Dale would be very careful in his choice of a butcher from whom to purchase meat.

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Dr. Dale would be better if he kept out of politics. He opposed the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) at the last general elections.

Senator E B JOHNSTON - I did not approve of that political attempt of Dr. Dale, but I do accept his views on public health matters. Senator Gibson, with that care and thought which he usually uses in a debate such as this, quoted certain authorities which were very old. Dr. Shields is only a name to me, and the opinion he expressed was given in 1935. I have a copy of a letter that has been referred to by the Leader of the Senate and Senator Spicer. It was published in the Melbourne Herald on the 21st March Last and was signed by Harold A. Woodruff, Professor of Bacteriology and former Professor of Veterinary Medicine, University of Melbourne; John Dale, Medical Officer of Health, City of Melbourne; F. M. Burnett, Acting Director, Walter and Eliza Hall Research Institute, Melbourne ; and Rupert A. Willis, Pathologist, Alfred Hospital. I am certain that Dr. Dale would do nothing prejudicial to the health of the citizens of Melbourne. His duty as well as his inclination would be to protect them. I do not know of any other authority that I could quote that would carry greater weight. In the letter the four gentlemen I have named said, inter alia -

In 1933 the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works commissioned the late Dr. W. J. Penfold to investigate the entire problem of beef measles at the Werribee farm.

Senator Gibson - The opinion quoted by the honorable senator was given in 1933.

Senator E B JOHNSTON - Less than three months ago that opinion was confirmed.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The Victorian Parliament did not act on those views.

Senator E B JOHNSTON - I am not concerned with the views or actions of the Victorian Parliament.

Senator McBride - What of the State Government in Western Australia?

Senator E B JOHNSTON - I am not discussing State governments at the moment and, in the words of that great statesman, the late Lord Forrest, L shall take my hurdles as I come to them. Perhaps we shall be asked to face those hurdles later when the uniform taxation proposal is before the Senate for review. The letter continues -

After an exhaustive and convincing research of nearly two years Dr. Penfold submitted his findings, which to any unbiased mind showed conclusively that the risks of tapeworm infection from Werribee beef were negligible; that the amount of infestation at the farm was slight; that the parasites were found, as indeed is characteristic of this organism, predominantly in certain parts of the animal which could be easily examined, and that it these were clear or only slightly affected the carcass was elsewhere clean; that the method of inspection adopted (and which was to have been continued) for the Werribee farm beef was unusually thorough, ensuring discovery of parasites in the sites of election; that tapeworm infestation contracted by human beings in Victoria was very rare, and that such infestation was practically harmless and easily and cheaply treated; and that the usual domestic cooking of beef in Victoria was such that it alone obviated risk of infection.

It then sets out the findings of Dr. Penfold, together with his recommendations to the Victorian Government, and then continues -

These recommendations of Dr. Penfold were almost identical with those made by Professor Woodruff and Drs. Kellaway and Dale, who, at a request of the Ministry to the British Medical Association, submitted an independent report on the subject(Hansard, June, 1934).

I do not propose to read the Hansard report, but the letter concluded as follows : -

This is surely not the time to maintain a prodigally wasteful and scientifically unsound prohibition, but to release good food which is urgently needed.

Harold A. Woodruff, Professor of Bacteriology and former Professor of Veterinary Medicine, University of Melbourne.

John Dale. Medical Officer of Health, City of Melbourne.

F.   M. Burnett, Acting Director, Walter and Eliza Hall Research Institute, Melbourne. ruperta.willis, Pathologist, Alfred Hospital.

That final paragraph, together with the high authority of the signatories, is largely responsible for my decision to oppose the disallowance of the regulations.

Senator Follmade a valuable suggestion that I think the Government should have accepted. It was that this subject, and similar matters involving the examination of technical evidence, should be referred to the Joint Committee on Rural Industries for investigation and report.

Senator Crawford - Why should we shirk our duties?

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