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Wednesday, 27 May 1942

Mr CALWELL - Opinions differ on that point, but, even if it were an excellent publication, it does not need a major, two captains and four lieutenants to edit it, and fifteen other ranks and five civilian typists to assist in its publication. If the whole army were run in this fashion, which, fortunately, it is not, we should not deserve to win the war.

I should like the Prime Minister to direct the attention of the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings) to a matter which concerns a more mundane subject, namely, Canberra's milk supply, which is probably the worst in Australia. For months past I have not seen good milk in Canberra. I protest against a recent decision of the Minister for the Interior. For the past ten years a community agistment paddock has been provided at Griffith, Canberra, for the convenience of residents of that locality who desire to pasture stock in it. At the present time, twelve people are grazing cows in this paddock, and for the right to do so, they pay the Department of the Interior a weekly fee of 6d. a head. The department has now decided that the paddock shall be closed as from the 30th June next. An acute shortage of milk occurred in Canberra some months ago, with the result that the Canberra Dairy Society, which operates as a combine, introduced a rationing scheme. The system was so unsatisfactory that the department was obliged to intervene and take control of the distribution of milk in Canberra. In order to provide a supply sufficient for the needs of the population, it took steps to have the Minister for Health approve of the importation of milk. The department will not need the agistment paddock for other purposes as there is unlikely to be any further housing development in that locality for the duration of the war. Representations were made to the Minister for the Interior to provide an alternative paddock, but the department refused to accede to the request. The Government is daily advising people to become selfsupporting. The twelve people who own these cattle are providing a milk supply for their families, and thus are indirectly helping to solve man-power problems. It is anomalous that the Government, through one if its departments, should prevent them from doing so. They urge that, in view of the fact that the land is not required for other purposes, the cows in the paddock should not be disturbed. The request is reasonable, and the attitude of the department is stupid and incomprehensible. We know the dangers of an impure milk supply. A number of fatalities has occurred amongst infants in Melbourne as the result of impurities in milk.

Mr Curtin - The Department of the Interior is not culpable in that matter.

Mr CALWELL - The Prime Minister interrupted my statement. Because of the shortage of man-power, and for other reasons, there has been a depreciation of the quality of milk supplied in Melbourne, and this has reacted disastrously on some families. In Canberra, the Department of the Interior has told these people that they cannot have the use of a paddock which the department does not want and will not need until after the war. They should not -be harassed ; at least, when they make representations to the department they should not bo met in an uncompromising spirit. They have been told that, as the stock must be removed by the 30th June, the best, thing that they can do is to sell their cows. This should not be done at a time when there is a milk shortage and when the milk delivered by the dairy society is of poor quality. The milk supplied in the Parliamentary refreshment rooms is of a very low standard. It might pass the minimum requirement test, but it is not so good as the milk that the dairying district which surrounds Canberra could and should supply.

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