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Wednesday, 14 November 1973
Page: 3289

Mr ANTHONY - My question is directed to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister will be aware of a letter which the Minister for Health wrote to the Australian Sugar Producers Association in which he said that sugar is a poison. I ask: Does the Prime Minister know that the Minister wrote another letter to another organisation - the Proprietary Sugar Millers Association Pty Ltd - in which he made some remarkably ill-informed comments on industry methods, efficiency, organisation, research and promotion, in which he repeated in part his charges about the effects of sugar on health and in which he made a not very thinly veiled threat to cause some problems for the industry? Will the Prime Minister explain how the Australian people should distinguish between a Minister's personal views and expressions of the Government's official views? Does it not cause a great deal of confusion when a Minister puts his personal views, however sincere they might be even though 'badly misinformed, in letters written on his official letterhead as a Minister?

Mr SPEAKER - Will the right honourable gentleman complete his question?

Mr ANTHONY - Yes, I will. Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether the Minister's way-out views reflect the opinions of the Department of Health and, indeed, the Government?

Mr WHITLAM - I have heard that my colleague has written some letters on these subjects. They have not come before the Government. His views are his own. Until they are considered by the Government they are not the Government's views. I would not express a view about the benefits of sugar. I am still assessing the views of my 2 col leagues, the Minister for Northern Development and the Minister for Health, on this matter. The Cabinet, frankly, has not got round to considering this issue, although I am told that, in view of the testimonial by the Minister for Northern Development on his own behalf and going back 2 generations in his family, the consumption of sugar by members of this House has risen amazingly.

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