The photograph shows a display mounted by the Australian Margarine Manufacturers Association at Sydney's 1930 Royal Easter Show. In that era, most margarine was made from the fat of beef cattle. It was cheaper than butter but of higher value to graziers than tallow, which was also made from fat and used to make soap and candles. The display depicts margarine as a healthy product and one that was subjected to unfair competition from butter. In script at the back of the exhibit are the words: ?Justice to all Primary Industries Will Reduce the Cost of Living.'
While there is no mention of butter in the text, the central figure in the diorama is a blindfolded Lady Justice, holding a sword and a pair of scales in which a dairy cow balances a beef steer. She is flanked on either side by a cone of margarine, each with a sign in front stating: ?Margarine a pure product of the cattle industry.' Other products sit in containers below the cones. Various plants adorn the display, reinforcing the message that margarine is pure and natural.
At the front of the exhibit, three seated female figures hold ribbons that are tied around a model steer as if they are leading it forward. Two also hold trays, and one a basket, that contain various cattle products. A sign between them states: ?The maidens of industry deliver product to the Australian worker.' The worker is represented by a male figure standing in front of them, with one hand outstretched to receive their bounty. The implication is that low-paid workers welcomed margarine because they could not afford butter.
In response to the greater political clout of dairy farmers, who were much more numerous than margarine workers, legislation in each State penalised the margarine industry. NSW manufacturers were concerned that their State would follow Victoria in banning the use of skim milk, which was used to emulsify fat (help it form a stable mixture with water) rather than to make margarine taste like butter, as was sometimes alleged. Colour additives were already banned, even though it was legal to modify the colour of butter, which varies according to season and pasture type. The display was aimed at influencing the public to demand that government treat the margarine and dairy industries equally, by unstated measures such as not introducing the one ban and lifting the other.