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Tuesday, 13 November 1973
Page: 1709

Senator LAUCKE - I direct my question to the Attorney-General in his capacity as Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to the unwarranted condemnatory attitude of the Minister for Health, Dr Everingham, in regard to the sugar industry, as revealed in his support of views that the advertising of sugar be banned. Is it not a fact that a situation of utter absurdity could be reached, in respect of restrictions on advertising, were credence to be given to the whims of individuals as they concern foodstuffs and beverages generally? To dispel mounting concern in many areas of industry, can the AttorneyGeneral, as Leader of the Government in the Senate, give an assurance that no commodity which is freely salable according to law will be denied freedom of advertising?

Senator MURPHY - In dealing with the opening part of the question I should say that Dr Everingham is well known for the work he has done for the stability of the sugar industy. Prior to the 1969 election and as recently as the last 2 weeks, he has made representations to all Ministers concerned for completion of the Bundaberg irrigation scheme. However, he takes the view that his responsibility as Minister for Health is to speak primarily on the health aspects, particularly from the point of view of the consumer or the ordinary citizen. Therefore, he has asked for statistical research on the effects of refined foods to find out why sugar cane and unrefined grains are harmless and nutritious foods but refined foods are suspect. He has suggested to the sugar industry that it help to set up such research. He is also investigating ways to study long range effects of food refining at the Sydney University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine which is administered by his Department. That is Dr Everingham 's view of the matter. I have some notes which indicate that. Dr Everingham is the Minister for Health. He is entitled to speak out on the questions which concern him, especially when he is proposing that research be conducted.

As to the question of advertising, I suppose that that, along with other matters, is something for the Government and this Parliament to determine. I do not know of any proposal which would be directed by the Government towards the banning of advertising. I do know that some commodities in this community are restricted. In fact, it is curious that one commodity which is supposed to promote health- that is, polyunsaturated margarine- is restricted in its availability to the Australian people.

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