Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 8 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 2124 ..
MR DE DOMENICO (Minister for Urban Services) (5.48): Mr Speaker, I wholeheartedly and passionately endorse what Ms Follett has just said. At the same time, I have a nostalgic yearning to support Mr Moore. But I think Ms Follett put it very realistically. We need, once and for all, to look very hard at the environmental and economic costs and to have independent and scientifically reliable studies to tell us exactly what are the pros and cons of milk being sold in bottles. I can recall in my Victorian days, when milk was provided free to schoolkids, drinking the half-pint bottles. We used to have bets with each other as to who could drink the most of that stuff. Honestly, it was vile sometimes, because it was left in the sun for two or three hours. It tasted horrible. I am blowed if I know why we did not get sicker than we usually did.
Ms Follett made some good points. It has been said to me that milk in a glass bottle deteriorates if the glass bottle is left in the sun. Logically, one would think it would. It is more readily able to be got at by dogs, cats, magpies and people as well. The thing that gives me the most concern about glass milk bottles is the aspect of public safety. It has been said to me time and time again that slivers of glass have been discovered in the bottom of milk bottles. I have always said that this Government will continue as far as possible to provide milk in bottles. However, if there is any evidence shown to me that public safety is affected, the Government will take them off the market. We cannot just hope that everything will be all right; we have to be assured, in terms of the quality control of the product being sold, for a start, that there are no glass slivers in the bottom of the bottles. If we are a responsible government, we have to make sure that the product we provide to the consumer is the best quality product.
So, I hear what Ms Follett is saying, and I have a strong inclination to agree with it. In fact, I have told Canberra Milk that, if there is any more evidence of faults in machines that mean that we continue to get people complaining about glass in the bottom of milk bottles, we will make sure that the consumer is not given the opportunity to buy milk in glass bottles. However, let me reply to what Mr Moore said. Earlier this year the Government spent $250,000 to get a new milk bottling machine across from Wollongong to here - not a new one but a second-hand one - because the condition of ours was deemed to be the reason why we continued to get glass in the bottom of the bottles. I have been assured that that is no longer happening. However, as I said, if it continues to happen, we will look very closely at the current situation.
Ms Follett was right; the problem is not just the glass that we find. An enormous amount of energy, money and time is spent in actually rewashing these bottles every time they are used. Some people say that yes milk in a bottle tastes different from milk in a carton. I suggest to them that sometimes it may be because it has some detergent in it, and of course it is going to taste different.