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Tuesday, 9 May 1961

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock (LYNE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Order! The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) has the call. I suggest that the House come to order and allow the honorable member to continue his speech, unassisted from either side of the House.

Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I was saying that every member of the Ministry, by his silence, has given his approval to the answers given to-day by the Minister for Health. The Minister for the Interior and the Minister for Territories have shown by their interjections to-night that they give their active and direct approval to the advice given in this booklet, which is so injurious to the dairy industry and to the health of the Australian people.

Mr Crean - Do you think it would be more honest if the booklet were re-issued with a new title, " Eat Less Butter ". instead of " Eat Better for Less "?

Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That would be more honest. Nothing would be satisfactory now except that all copies of the booklet be withdrawn immediately.

Mr Hasluck - And burnt by the public hangman?

Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes. Also, the Prime Minister should publicly repudiate it in this House, and the resignation of the Minister for Health should be required.

Mr Hasluck - Is not that a bit extreme?

Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - No, in view of the injury that this booklet is doing and will continue to do to a great primary industry so long as copies remain in circulation. It is most important that that should be done. I am afraid that the Minister at the table has no knowledge of the importance of the dairying industry to this country. The members of the Country Party are failing in their duty by not bringing him and other Ministers to a recognition of the importance of this industry and of the need for the withdrawal of this pernicious publication.

The Minister for Health has even taken the extraordinary attitude of claiming that the booklet really represents the individual publication by an honest scientist of his honest views and, therefore, that it ought to be allowed. Of course, that is far from the truth. A scientist would be fully entitled to publish independently his views on any food subject, but the author of this booklet, if he were a propagandist for the margarine industry, could not have done a better job. The fact is that no author's name appears on this publication. The only authority for it is given at the back - " Issued by the Australian Institute of Anatomy, Commonwealth Department of Health, Canberra ". It therefore goes out to the people of Australia under the auspices of the Commonwealth Department of Health, a body in which the people have every cause to have full trust. Therefore the booklet will do the maximum damage. If it were published by the margarine people, the people would tend to discount it. The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) knows that when this booklet goes out, officially authorized as a publication of the Commonwealth Department of Health, the people are likely to accept its contents as a final statement upon these important subjects. I know that he could not agree that these statements are correct and I am amazed that he has not risen in his place, in the interests of the dairy farmers whom he represents, to make sure that the booklet is withdrawn.

Mr Hasluck - Do you think this is a conspiracy by the margarine makers?

Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - No, I do not think so. That is a ridiculous interjection, for which I excuse the Minister only by reason of the time of day. Perhaps he is a little over-tired. I want to quote a little more from this booklet.

Mr Jeff Bate - Don't you think that by drawing attention to the booklet you are causing more damage and that sleeping dogs should be let lie? The more you stir things up, the more damage you do to the industry.

Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The woeful interjection of the honorable member for Macarthur is that this booklet should be allowed to circulate, without protest, as widely as the Government chooses to distribute it, and that harm would be done by raising the matter in this House, exposing the falsities of the booklet and making a demand upon the Government for its withdrawal. The honorable member knows that if every Government member representing a rural electorate in this House demanded that the booklet be withdrawn, that would be done. They know that. They know they have the power to compel the withdrawal of the booklet but they are not using that power although it is in the interests of the industry and of the consumers of dairy products that this should be done. I shall now proceed to deal with some further aspects of the booklet.

Mr Hasluck - You have not dealt with bacon.

Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister for Territories reminds me about bacon. The reference to bacon is in one sentence. It states -

Bacon is a luxury food, so use it sparingly.

The title of the book is " Eat Better for Less ". It advises the reader to eat the less expensive foods, so by declaring bacon a luxury food, the booklet is advising people not to use it. In fact, the booklet says - so use it sparingly.

Bacon, however, is a healthy food. It is a product of Australian primary production, and every Australian family should be assisted to eat as much bacon as its members reasonably desire. The effect of that sentence is to cause an injury to a valuable branch of Australian primary industry. Then we come to fish. The Australian seas teem with good fish. Surely the Australian people should be able to eat the choicest products of the seas; but not according to this booklet. It advises the people to eat mullet and leather-jackets.

Mr Griffiths - We use them for bait.

Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Some people would hesitate to feed them to their cats; but sole, bream, schnapper and all the other magnificent fish are available to eat. The whole of the argument in this booklet is that the food value of all fish is about the same, so you should eat mullet and leatherjackets. The Minister claims that the booklet as a whole is of assistance to the dairying industry. I think I have read all relevant passages connected with the dairying industry except one. A careful reading of this book shows that there is not one word from beginning to end in favour of butter, although there are plenty said in favour of margarine. Yet the Minister claims that the book is of assistance to the dairying industry! Let us take this further example of the way this booklet sabotages the sale of butter -

Sandwiches run away with your butter supply.

Do not give your children butter in sandwiches -

If you cut lunches for your family every working day, here is a tip to make your butter or margarine go further. Take i lb. butter or margarine, let it soften but not melt and beat in i pint warm (not hot) milk, with a little salt to taste. You will find that your butter or margarine goes nearly twice as far.

In other words, follow this advice, cut the consumption of butter in half and deprive your children of the special nutriment that butter contains.

Mr Hasluck - Does it not urge you to use milk?

Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is another silly interjection. The booklet proceeds to give menus for a whole week.

Mr Mackinnon - It suggests the use of butter.

Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Never once in the menus for the whole week are the people advised to eat butter. I have the booklet in my hand.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock - Order! I again call the House to order and ask that interjections cease from both sides. If interjections do not cease, I shall be forced to take action.

Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I thank you for your assistance, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was pointing out to the honorable member for Corangamite that although a menu is given for every day of the week, the booklet does not advise the use of butter once. For every menu, the advice is to use " butter or margarine ". Finally, I wish to direct attention to one feature of this booklet which I find particularly disturbing. That is the official advice given in the name of the Government to housewives and mothers of families to follow the advertising of weekly shopping bargains. We all know that the great chain stores, which are destroying the business of many small independent storekeepers throughout Australia, specialize in deceiving their customers into thinking they give better value than other shops by having a few special lines which they advertize in large spaces in the newspapers every week. This is a very unfair form of advertizing and an unfair form of competition. The chain stores offer these cut lines at reduced profit to attract customers into their shops. They take an unfair advantage of the small independent shopkeepers who cannot afford to do anything of the sort. Yet in this booklet, the Government deliberately advises housewives to patronize the large chain stores to the disadvantage of the small independent city and country storekeepers!

I think it is totally wrong that the Government should take sides in this very difficult battle for existence which is being fought to-day throughout Australia by the small independent storekeepers who cannot afford to offer the special cut-price lines, but who, on the whole, give better value than the chain stores which operate now in almost every town and city. I would do my best to assist the small storekeepers, and certainly would not go out of mv way, as the Government has done in this booklet, to assist the large chain stores.

My final observation is that the whole effect of this booklet is to say to the people, "We will not allow your wages to keep pace with the increase in the cost of living. We will freeze your wages. We will put up your rents. We will increase the charges you have to meet. But here is the answer: Eat cheaper food. Eat substitutes, and you will manage to get by ". I think the whole booklet is a disgrace to the Government. Every member of the Australian Country Party and every Liberal member representing a country electorate should take stronger action than any of them have taken so far. I know that they feel indignant about the booklet, but they should have the courage to express their indignation and compel the withdrawal of this booklet and a public repudiation of it by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Government.

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