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Wednesday, 29 June 1921

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Repatriation) . - I asked Senator Bolton to quote the sentence which I had imperfectly caught, because in the absence of the. explanation which he has since given the impression might have been conveyed that the authorities at the College were carrying on operations, knowing that the supplies of food were unsatisfactory. But there is the definite statement from them in the report which the honorable senator has quoted that they regard those supplies as adequate and satisfactory. It would be a very serious matter if the impression got abroad that the Government were withholding from the students of that institution necessary articles of diet and were thus jeopardizing their health. But it is quite clear from the statement which has been quoted that whatever may have been the cause of the temporary shortage of supplies, the supplies which are now available are regarded as adequate and satisfactory. I confess, however, that the whole thing comes as asurprise to me. Possessing the knowledge which I do of our back country, and knowing that there are places where milk, outside of tinned milk, is never seen, and where there is always a shortage of vegetables, when I am told that, at a place like Jervis Bay, boils are breaking out amongst the students of this College because of some temporary dislocation in supplies, I decline to believe it. If it. were so, how is it that much worse conditions do not prevail throughout Australia? Even though honorable senators may not have lived as I have done in the back country, they know something of the conditions there, and that people in the remote districts have often to put up with a shortage of supplies of vegetables and milk. Yet, we never hear of these troubles as a result. Does it seem reasonable that boys attending a college not more than 20 miles from a railway station, and provided for according to adietary scalewhich we may be certain has been approved by a medical authority, should have developed this trouble for the reason stated ? I cannot believe it.

Senator Bolton - There is their own admission.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is admitted that the trouble has occurred, but it is not admitted that it was due to the shortage of vegetables and milk.

Senator Bolton - Outside medical opinion says that it is.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - ThenI should like to askthedoctorswhogave thatopinionwhyamuchworsecondition of things does not prevail throughout Australia.

Senator Keating - So many boys are not congregated in one centre elsewhere.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am satisfied that quite as many boys as are attending the College at Jervis Bay can be found in many townships in Australia.

Senator Keating - The trouble would be more easily noticed amongst a number of boys together in an institution than amongst a similar number of boys scattered about a town.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That might be so; but apparently the parents of the boys have noticed the occurrence of. the boils, and I assume that the parents of boys throughout Australia would be equally as observant of the condition of the health of their boys. The real question which Senator Bolton has raised is as to the advisability of the institution making arrangements for growing its own vegetables, and providing its own milk supply. That is a different proposition, and makes clear the statement quoted from a report that there were not funds available for that purpose. It is clear that the vote provided, while sufficient to meet the cost of supplying vegetables and milk to the institution, was not sufficient to oover the cost of employing gardeners to grow the vegetables, and employing men to carry out the work necessary to provide a milk Bupply for the institution on the spot.

Senator Bolton - The milk comes from a distance of 12 or 14 miles.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - In some of the country districts vegetables are carried from 50 to 100 miles.

Senator Bolton - By train, but not on horseback.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - By train or by coach. There is no reason why they should be brought to the College on horseback unless there is a regiment of horse marines under training there. A 20 miles ride is but a morning sprint before breakfast compared with the distances I have been used to. Whether it would be more economical or more satisfactory for the College to provide its own vegetable and milk supplies, I am not in a position to say, but I should say that the reason why vegetables and milk are supplied under the existing conditions is that the other proposition has never been put before the Department.

Senator Bolton - It has been put by the chief officials that it would be a most desirable thing if the College were selfcontained in these matters, but the heads of the Department have set their faces against the proposal, and for no practical reason.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I ask the honorable senator not to be too hasty in his judgment of this matter. I have never known a public institution to object to the enlargement of its borders. I know of no public Department that would noi, if that were possible, prefer to provide everything for itself. That appears to be human nature as developed in the Public Service. It should be possible to determine with some degree of certainty the advisableness or otherwise of giving effect to the proposal which the honorable senator has mentioned. The College authorities must know what their vegetable and milk bills amount to.

Senator Bolton - Even the Minister concerned is in favour of the proposal, and yet it cannot be carried out.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I think that the Minister has only to ask that a vote to give it effect be placed on the Estimates.

Senator Keating - Some naval official probably says, " It is not done."

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - If the authorities at the College can show that vegetables and milk could be supplied more economically in the way proposed than under, the . present method, I have no doubt thatattention will be naid to their representations. The important point at present isthat, in the opinion of the authorities, the supply of vegetables and milk to the boys is adequate and satisfactory. I should not like the impression to go abroad that they wereinsufficiently or improperly fed.

Proposed vote agreed to.

Division 97 (Air Services), £34,000, agreed to.

Divisions 98 to 113 (Department of Trade andCustoms), proposed vote, £81,889.

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