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Wednesday, 13 May 1942

Senator AMOUR (New South Wales) . - There has been a lot of talk about Werribee beef, but why? It contains beef measles, which is the cyst of the tapeworm, and it is to be sent to the troops. I have had experience of beef in New South Wales, and I have seen old bulls bought for £5 to be sent to the canning works. If the troops in the last war had not eaten the bully beef handed out to them they would have starved. It would have been much more tender had it been beef from the Werribee farm. If the beef is to be canned for export, the process of canning will eliminate the tapeworm or any disease. I wonder why there has been such a scream about Werribee beef? I have had the opportunity to look over the abattoirs at Homebush, where I have seen carcasses - not merely one, but up to ten of them - ripped to pieces by the inspectors because the beasts had suffered from tuberculosis. That is an abattoir where there are Government inspectors, Commonwealth and

Senator Gibson - How many calves?

Senator AMOUR - The statement does not give the number. With regard to the cattle, 155 were sold at the last four market days in Melbourne, and all cattle which had been slaughtered in the city abattoirs had been passed by the Melbourne City Council Abattoirs Committee as fit for human consumption. The Commonwealth has set up machinery for meat inspection, and if the meat is to be exported it has to go through a minute inspection after it has left the Melbourne City Council Abattoirs Committee. Therefore, it is senseless to say that this beef will destroy our export trade. No one in Australia can tell me that the meat Australia exports is not of the very first quality, and if the inspectors believed there were any defects in the Werribee beef it would not be passed by them. I have heard men who buy cattle and men who send cattle to the market moan about the way the carcasses are chopped about by Commonwealth inspectors. It has been pointed out by medical authorities, particularly by Dr. Robertson, former Chief Health Officer for Victoria, that beef from the Werribee farm can safely be sold for human consumption. As reported in The Age newspaper of the 14th April, 1934, Dr. Robertson said -

The rules laid down for the examination of carcases adequately protected consumers. If by any chance cysts escaped observation by the inspectors, they would be killed by cooking up to a temperature of 115 degrees Fahrenheit, which actually meant comparatively slight heating of the meat.

Meat fried in fat is subjected to a temperature of 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Dr. Robertson also said that the disease was a very minor one as compared with 51 other diseases that affect cattle. Why worry about this particular beef, which is reported to be good beef? It is incorrect to say that beef produced from the grasses grown on a sewage farm is infested to any considerable degree. There are rivers in Europe into which eleven cities discharge their sewage and from which eleven cities draw their drinking water. This illfounded criticism of Werribee beef is incomprehensible to me. Some honorable senators have complained that consumption of this meat by human beings exposes them to the danger of contracting a dread intestinal disease. To that contention, I reply that some people in northern Queensland suffer from the tapeworm, but they do not obtain beef from the Werribee farm.

Senator Crawford - -I never heard of a case in northern Queensland, where I have lived for more than 40 years. It is the healthiest part of Australia.

Senator AMOUR - This regulation will not affect the meat export trade, because we do not contemplate the export of any of this meat. We propose to make it available for consumption in Australia, and our action has ample support. People who, while condemning the meat, endeavour to force us to export it, would do a great disservice to Australia. If the meat were despatched overseas and certain people in Australia, in order to gain a political advantage, condemned it, our competitors in foreign markets, whether principled or unprincipled, would be given an opportunity to undermine our meat export trade. This disadvantage would arise not from the quality of the meat but from a psychological reaction which, unfortunately, some people in Australia would create in order to get rid of this good meat which competes so effectively in the markets with other meat.

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