7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the, Leader of the Senate whether he is now in a position to supply answers to two questions submitted by me, the answers to which are still in abeyance. One question had reference to the balance-sheet of the Commonwealth steam-ships, and the other to additional appointments made to Boards and Committees since a particular date.
– I have not the information at hand. I must admit that I, personally, overlooked the intimation given to the honorable senator when he submitted his questions on an earlier occasion. I will see whether the information may be made available before the sitting closes, and, if not, I shall obtain it for the honorable senator by the next day of sitting.
Senator PRATTEN (for Senator
Bakhap) asked the Minister representing the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
If, in view of the fact that the Senate of the Congress of the United States is freely discussing the conditions of a just andfirm peace, the Commonwealth Government does not think’ the time opportune for it to publish an expression of strong opinion on this matter, supported by resolutions of both Chambers of the Commonwealth Parliament?
– It is not considered desirable, at the present juncture, tooffer an expression of opinion.
SenatorFOLL asked the Minister re presenting the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Has he seen a letter and circular sent to members by the secretary of Returned Soldiers and Sailors Imperial League, Sydney, re the case of a man named Wallace F. Henderson ; and, if so, what action is he taking
– The PostmasterGeneral has seen such a letter, dated 23rd September last. The papers referred to in that letter were laid on the table of the Library on the 25th ultimo, and the Postmaster-General will be very pleased if the honorable senator will make a point of perusing them.
Senator NEEDHAM (for Senator
Maugiian) asked the Minister representing the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the Prime Minister of Australia has (as reported in the press) sold the Australian butter surplus to Great Britain ; and, if so, at what price?
– Yes ; the right honorable the Prime Minister has cabled from London to the effect that he has sold this season’s exportable surplus butter at a fixed price of 175s. per cwt. f.o.b.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
With the exception of one clause, this is largely a machinery measure. Honorable senators will recognise that, when the first Excise Bill was introduced in this Parliament in 1901, a somewhat complicated condition of things required to be dealt with, owing to the varying arrangements adopted in the different States, and the transfer of the State Customs Departments to the Commonwealth. There were, in addition, some special conditions in the Customs and Excise Acts applying to the State of Western Australia. It is intended by this Bill to repeal certain sections of the existing Excise Act, the operation of which has been exhausted by the process of time. One important clause of the Bill to which I direct attention proposes an increase of from 100 to 200 per cent, in the licence fees charged in connexion with the manufacture of tobacco. When the existing schedule was drawn up, the manufacture of tobacco in the Commonwealth was distributed amongst a good many factories. To-day, there is a concentration of its manufacture, and we have some very hig firms operating in a large way whose factories require the supervision of two, three, or even four Excise officers. The object of tho pro- . posed increase of fees is not to derive revenue, but to secure that the cost to the Government of the services of Excise officers appointed for the convenience of private firms engaged in the manufacture of tobacco shall be recouped by the licence fees imposed. There are no vital questions involved in the Bill, and there is no attempt to increase the fees charged to the smaller firms. The Bill is one which can be better dealt with in Committee.
Debate (on motion by Senator McDougall) adjourned.
Bill received from House of Repre- sentatives.
– I move -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
In submitting this motion, I should like to’ intimate to honorable senators that I do so in order to enable us to proceed with the Bill, if, in the course of debate, it is found that there is no objection to the adoption of that course. If, as the debate proceeds, honorable senators raise points in regard to any items which would appear to justify the postponement of the further consideration of the measure, I shall not ask them to proceed further with it to-day. The passing of this motion will enable us, in the absence, of any objection, to put the measure through without delay.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
– Order! The honorable senator is not entitled to speak upon the motion for the first reading of this Bill, because it is a measure which the Senate may amend.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
, - In moving -
That this Bill be now read a second time,
I wish to say that its purpose is to secure parliamentary authority to appropriate £454,951 for new works, buildings, &c. This amount is £802,666 less than the provision which was made in 1917-18, when the total amount for these purposes estimated to be payable out of revenue was £1,257,617. Provision has been made only for the completion of works already in progress, and the commencement of works of an urgent nature. Consequently, the Estimates now submitted are £541,172 less than the amount which the Departments originally asked to be provided for the services of the year. The principal items included in the Bill are as follow: - -Quarantine buildings, £25,183; erection of drill halls and ordnance stores, £17,379 ; other Defence works and buildings, £22,011; Sydney Telephone Exchange, £16,980; parcels post building, Melbourne, £21,170; other postal buildings, £22,324; water boring, purchase of scow, and other works and buildings, Northern Territory, £10,000; telegraph and telephone material for construction and extension of lines, £175,000; war-like stores, including field and machine guns, equipment, &c, £51,100; Small Arms Factory - additions and installation of machinery and plant, £25,000; Cordite Factory - additions and extensions, £7,000; Woollen Cloth Eactory - machinery and plant, £5,000; naval works, £14,000; vessels for Customs, quarantine and lighthouse work, £21,300; other works and buildings, £3,314. Total, £454,951. I have stated generally the items covered by the Bill, and if honorable senators desire particulars as to any sub-items under those headings I shall do my best to supply the required information.
– I notice in the Bill an item of £3,000 under the heading of “ Institute of Science and Industry.” Do I understand that the Government are so certain of getting their little Bill through that they are prepared to ask Parliament to vote £3,000 in this connexion, or has that sum already been expended?
– Is not that a question for the Committee stage?
– I do not mind when I get the information. I regret that I cannot see any item in this Bill which covers, the matter to which I now desire to refer. I have noticed that from time to time a considerable number of reports have been made by various experts’ upon the question of unifying the railway gauges of Australia.. But beyond the talking stage, very little, if anything, has been accomplished. I desire to know whether it is proposed to vote any money to enable that important work to be proceeded with?
– The honorable senator is not entitled to discuss a matter which he himself admits is not covered by any item in this Bill. He is not in order in discussing any question which is not strictly relevant to the measure.
– I was under the impression that I was entitled to discuss the matter to which I was alluding, in connexion with an item which appears on page 3 of the Bill. I should like to know whether it is the intention of the Government to do anything in the direction I have suggested?
– The Leader of the Senate (Senator Millen) has told us that this Bill provides for an appropriation of loan moneys for the current financial year which is considerably less than the amount voted by Parliament last year. So far as I can gather, the principal items in the measure relate to post-office buildings and extensions. It seems to me that there is not much in the Bill to which exception can be taken, but that it involves to some extent the question of how the finances of the Commonwealth shall be put before honorable senators. For instance, in the general summary of the Commonwealth finances, the Post Office shows a rather big surplus. That fact has been taken into consideration by the Treasurer (Mr. Watt) in his Estimates of the receipts and expenditure for the forthcoming year, and he has credited the aggregate revenue of the Commonwealth with those receipts. But now we are asked to vote about a quarter of a million sterling on loan account for the Postal Department.
– No; this expenditure will come out of revenue.
– If it is to come out of revenue, I think the Senate may very well pass the items as they stand. This Parliament should hesitate to do anything which is calculated to hamstring or legrope the expenditure of the Post Office just now. We have to provide not merely for the requirements of this year, but for those of future years, and if we unduly cheesepare the expenditure on public utilities, it is obvious that we shall have to find a good deal more money to put those utilities in order later on. The appropriation proposed in the Bill is small compared with the amount which has been expended- in previous years, and we have very good indications that the Government are keeping a much, tighter rein upon public expenditure than has been kept by previous Administrations. One of the items at which we cannot cavil is that relating to military stores. It is manifest that for some time we shall have to pay attention to the military sustenance of the Commonwealth.
In regard to the proposed expenditure of £10,000 on works in the Northern Territory, I suggest that it will be well for the Minister in charge of that great spending portion of the Commonwealth to keep the tightest possible rein upon what is transpiring there. The Territory seems to be a veritable sink for money, and I am quite in accord with the observations which have been made in this Chamber from time to time by Senator Newland regarding our expenditure there. In contradistinction to our administration of that Territory, the administration of Papua is being characterized by extreme economy. I do not think that the demand upon the Commonwealth finances for the administra- “ tion of Papua is very much in excess of £40,000 annually. Perhaps in the direction of Northern Territory expenditure greater restriction and economy can be exercised ; but I see no other items in the Bill needing much reflection or criticism. The chief items are on account of the Post Office/ and it would be mistaken economy to curtail necessary postal and telephonic work now, for which we should have to pay through the nose a little later on.
– Among these voluminous items,I see one for £3,000 for an Institute of Science and Industry. It occurs to “me that that expenditure is entirely illegal. I have carefully read section 51 of the Constitution, and can see in it no power delegated to the Commonwealth by the States which would bring this proposal within the four corners of the law.
– Not even in Canberra or the Northern Territory, where the Commonwealth has sovereign rights?
– It is not proposed to start the Institute in that restricted way. This is to apply all over Australia. Apparently, the honorable senator has not looked into the Bill.
– When the honorable senator says that the Commonwealth cannot spend £3,000 on a scientific institute, although it owns Canberra and the Northern Territory, it shows that he has not read the Constitution.
– None of the money is being spent at either of those places. The honorable senator is merely raising a quibble to throw me off the track, but he will not succeed.
– Try “ Trade and Commerce.”
– Paragraph (i) of section 51 of the Constitution reads: “Trade and commerce with other countries and among the States.” He would be a most ingenious lawyer who could bring this Institute under that power. It was never the intention of the framers of the Constitution, or of the people who accepted it, to hand over to this Parliament- power to create such a body. If it does not -come under the heading the honorable senator suggests, ingenious though the effort is, I cannot see that it comes under, any other paragraph.
– We have done it already.
– If so, we have done it illegally, and the Minister ought to pay the money back.
– It was legally done in a previous case.
– We cannot do an illegal act legally. The point requires the most serious attention of the Minister in charge of the Bill relating to the proposed new Institute. Reading section 51 of the Constitution in a common-sense way, I cannot see that any of the powers; enumerated in it will cover the expenditure.
Senator SENIOR (South Australia) [3.241. - Although the proposed Institute may not represent direct trade in the way of exchange, or commerce, it certainly has to do with the future trade of the Commonwealth. There is no provision in section 51 of the Constitution- which in so many words hands over to this Parliament the control of butter or wheat.
– That is done as a war measure under the War Precautions Act, and lasts only for the war.
– If it is felt that it is necessary for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth to- take any step that will lead to the improvement of its trade or commerce, that step comes within the four corners of the trade and commerce power. If the Commonwealth has no power to take such a step, then it can have no power over trade and commerce at all. If it can be shown that that step will increase the trade and commerce of the Commonwealth, this Parliament is perfectly justified in taking it. The real question is not whether we have the power to create this Institute, but whether we are justified in doing it. The honorable senator has not addressed himself to that point at all. If we are justified in doing it, the first paragraph of section 51 of the . Constitution gives us ample authority. No exception can be taken to the proposal on legal grounds. Senator Guthrie very properly suggests that a previous Commonwealth Government induced this Parliament to pass a Navigation Act. It could not point to any definite section in the Constitution authorizing that legislation; but, undoubtedly, in dealing with navigation, this Parliament dealt with trade and commerce.
– Existing commerce.
– If by the creation of an Institute of Science and Industry, the Commonwealth can increase its trade, or improve its commerce, this Parliament will be justified in doing so, just as it- was justified in legislating about navigation. There is no strength iti Senator Fairbairn’s argument. It is simply a skilful attempt to side-track the proposal; and it would be much better if the honorable senator dealt with the subject on the Bill already before the Senate. In the measure now before us, we have simply to consider -whether the item quoted by Senator Fairbairn is justified or not.
– I take advantage of this opportunity to call the attention of Ministers to what I regard as a pernicious system that is creeping into, at- least, one of our Departments. I am taking this action because of the fact that I am a member of the Standing Committee- on Public Works. I want no one to think that I am doing this because I am anxious that the Committee should have further work to attend to. I am doing it because, under an Act of Parliament, that Committee was called into existence to docertain things. Under the law, any public work costing more than £25,000 must be remitted to the Committee for investigation and report. I am perfectly indifferent as to whether I remain on that Committee or not. No one can say that I am taking this stand because I am anxious that the Committee shall have more work to do. As a result of my connexion with the Public Works Committee it has come under my notice, and that of other members, that one Department in particular is getting into the habit of dividing its works into two or three sections, thereby avoiding any inquiry by the Works Committee. That has been done already. I refer to the Post Office Department. There are two items of expenditure in connexion with the Post Office Department set out in the measure now before the Senate. Those together comprise a sum considerably in excess of the amount which, in the ordinary course, should be referred to the Public Works Committee. On page 9 of the Bill”, item 4, under the heading “Victoria,” there is a line: “Melbourne - extension and alterations, General Post Office, £18,190.” There is also a small item: “Melbourne - construction of parcels post and postal sorting and postal stores building, £1,600.” The two upon that page cover a sum of nearly £20,000. Then, on page 10, there is an item, again under the heading of Victoria: “Melbourne - erecting new building and remodelling old parcels post building for telegraph operating room, £21,170.” The three items aggregate more than £40,000. If the Public Works Committee is expected to exercise general supervision over the expenditure of money, whether upon new works, alterations of old works, buildings, or anything df the kind, it is no part of the duty of any Minister to divide those works in this manner and so, apparently, avoid reference to the Public Works Committee..
I ask honorable senators to turn to the record of the Public Works Committee since its formation, when it will be found that the carrying out of the recommendations of that body has caused large sums of money to be saved upon practically every work referred to it. That is why I call attention to the position to-day. I do not know whether it is too late to make any alteration, and I am not concerned as to whether it is or not ; but I trust that this practice will not be permitted to grow in regard to the public works of the country. If it is desired that public money shall be spent without check or review, let us straightway repeal the. Public Works Committee Act, and thus the Departments may go on spending as they please. We are expected to do certain work, having been called into existence for that purpose. I am of opinion that the Postmaster-General (Mr. Webster) has acted as I have indicated, with the idea of keeping those works from the Committee, so that he and his officers shall not be hampered or annoyed by having to explain details and answer a lot of questions from this very inquisitorial Public Works Committee.
– Senator Fairbairn has raised a constitutional point. I suggest for his consideration that this is not - though, perhaps, unfortunately for the country- -the body which determines constitutional points. Had we been so intrusted, it is possible that a Chamber constituted as this is might have avoided some of the pitfalls of that Serbonian bog in which other authorities appear to spend much of their existence. Even if the Senate passes this amount, it cannot possibly be expended until the Bill authorizing the Government to proceed with the creation of the Science Institute shall have been finally approved. But, the constitutional point having been raised, I shall make an effort to -set Senator Fairbairn’s mind at rest. He says he can see no portion of the Constitution which confers the. power herein claimed. If he will turn to section 51 of the Act he will find among the thirtynine articles of our political faith :
Matters incidental to the execution of any power vested by this Constitution in the Parliament or in either House thereof. . . .
It does not require any arguing to demonstrate that science may involve matters incidental to the execution of those powers which are clearly within the compass of the Federal Parliament. o one will dispute, for example, that quarantine is a matter in respect of which the Commonwealth has full power. It requires no argument to show that scientific investigation may be very important in its incidental relationship to quarantine questions. The same line may be taken with respect to defence. No one in these times will assert that War can be successfully carried on except -with the aid of science. And it can be shown that the establishment of a scientific bureau is incidental to many of the powers claimed and exercised by the Commonwealth Government. The honorable senator in voting for this item - if he cares to do so - will not necessarily commit himself to the expenditure of that amount, for, if the Senate turn3 down the measure for the creation of the proposed Institute, the money will not be spent, there being no authority for its expenditure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
– -The question is somewhat obscure as to where, ultimately, the responsibility in respect of the money that will be spent under this authorizing measure is placed. Yesterday we voted a. sum towards the Department of the Postmaster-General - amounting to about £1,250,000 sterling, and now we are to authorize a further expenditure of about £250,000 or £300,000. Is it included in the total expenditure of the Department of the Postmaster-General for the year, or is it shown separately as a credit item for new works?
– I hope I may say, without being held guilty of heresy, that one of the eccentricities of our method of keeping accounts is that it takes a little time before we can ascertain exactly what is being spent by any particular Department. The practice ;is that works and buildings constructed by the Works Department, although for other Departments, figure under the heading of Home and Territories in the first instance; but the honorable senator will be able to see by the sub-heading for which Department certain expenditure has been incurred.
– Then, ultimately, it gets debited to the PostmasterGeneral?
– I cannot say that it does.
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the report be now adopted.
Senator PRATTEN(New South Wales [3.43]. - I should like to enter my protest against the manner in which these money Billa are rushed through Committee at times. I was under the impression when I rose to ask the Chairman of Committees a question in connexion with the schedule, that the Committee would have been able to go through the sections in detail.
– Order! The honorable gentleman should have raised his protest against the schedule being put through at the proper time. All I have to do is to accept the report of the Chairman that the report was agreed to without amendment. If it was submitted in a manner of which the honorable gentleman disapproved, undoubtedly that was the time for him to make his protest.
– I do not wish to make any aspersion upon you, Mr. President. I only desire to say that, as one of the younger members of the Senate, and as one who is not entirely familiar with its forms, I certainly think greater consideration should have been shown by the Chairman of Committees in putting the schedule.
– Order ! The honorable member is not entitled to reflect upon the Chairman of Committees at this stage. If anything of which the honorable senator did not approve occurred in Committee, unquestionably that was the time for him to take exception to it. He cannot revive the matter now.
– With reference to the report I have given to you, Mr. President, I have to say that the Bill contained only one schedule, and as there was no request by any honorable senator that the schedule be divided, I had no option but to put the schedule as a whole.
– Order ! I did not allow Senator Pratten to discuss this matter, and it would be improper if I allowed the honorable senator to do so now. It is finished with. What happened in Committee cannot be revived except on a motion for the recommittal of the Bill. The only question before the Senate is “That the report be now adopted.” Honorable senators are entitled to give reasons why it should not be adopted, but they are not entitled to revive anything that took place in Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 10th October, vide page 6782) :
Clause 4 -
There shall be a Commonwealth Institute of Science and Industry which shall consist of three directors and in each State an Advisory Council of Science and Industry. It shall be a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal and capable of suing and being sued…..
Upon which Senator Bakhap had moved by way of amendment -
That after the word “ be,” line 1, the words, “ established five years after the passing of this Act,” be inserted.
– The extraordinary facilities available to men for the production of wealth have given this Government a chance of introducing a measure which , if given effect to, will no doubt swallow up a very large proportion of the productions of many men. It is surprising what devices the Government will resort to in order to achieve this end. We have not had, in my opinion -
– Order! I ask the honorable senator to indicate how he is going to connect his remarks with the clause under discussion.
– Clause 4 provides for the appointment of three directors and in each State of an Advisory Council of Science and Industry, which is to be a body with perpetual succession and a common seal and capable of suing and being sued.
– Order! The question is that the words “established, five. years after the passing of this Act” be inserted.
– On a point of order, may:i ask whether the whole clause is not before the Committee at the present time?
– No, at the present stage only the amendment is before the Committee.
– It must be remembered that in New South “Wales, Queensland, and Victoria, and, I think, in all the other States, steps have been taken to carry out investigations into many matters which, if this Bill becomes law, will come under the direct control of a central- body, with its head-quarters in Melbourne. The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) has not given sufficient reasons-
– I ask the honorable senator to. confine his remarks to the amendment.
– I am in favour of the amendment. I am in favour of the Bill remaining a dead letter for a limited period of five years.
– The honorable senator wishes to kill the Bill.
– The passing of the amendment would not kill the Bill”. It has already been pointed out that, for certain reasons, a measure which passed both Houses of this Parliament is still allowed to remain inoperative, and there is no reason why this Bill, even if it be passed; should not be allowed to remain inoperative for a considerable time to come. We all know that the members of the present Government are studying morning, noon, and night to try to find positions for men who are not prepared to go out into “the country and do some productive work. We have had sufficient talk of the destruction of prickly pear, the Bathurst burr, and the Scotch and other thistles, to secure their complete eradication from the whole of the Commonwealth. If these men, including the Vice-President of the Executive Council, were really anxious to do some useful work they might equip themselves with mattocks for the eradication of these pests, and if they did so, there would not be a weed left in the whole of the Commonwealth. ‘These men, who are so anxious to establish palatial offices in Melbourne, and surround themselves with enormous staffs, have never yet been known to eradicate a single weed. If the Government have some money to spend, it would be far better that they should give it to some genuine workers, and equip them with implements to eradicate the weeds. If they are prepared to spend £3,000 as an insignificant preliminary upon this proposal, I say the money would be far better spent in equipping genuine workers with the necessary tools to eradicate weeds. They would do more in twelve months than will ever be done by those whom it is desired to appoint to positions under this Bill.
– Give them butterfly nets to catch blow-flies.
– ‘That would be an excellent occupation for the honorable senator. Notwithstanding all the talk that has taken place in Queensland, there are, at the present time, some 20,000,000 acres of land in that State in the posses^ sion of the prickly pear. There are approximately 3,000,000 acres in the possession of the prickly pear in New South Wales.
– Does not that prove that something should be done?
– Yes, but we do not want any more talkers or boards of inquiry. We need some one to do what the honorable senator did some little time ago. He did not start talking about clearing his land, but secured the neces-sary implements, and went about the business, and the local council taxed him more heavily than ever he was taxed before, and good enough for him, too. One can go to almost any place in Australia, and he will find that the local councils refuse, for reasons best known to themselves, to effectively deal with various pests coming under the definition of “ noxious weeds.” Some little time ago I travelled over the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway, and on the journey I noticed what was to me a perfectly new weed. It was something in the nature of an octopus. It stretched for 6 or 7 feet in many directions. It may spread to other parts of the Commonwealth, and, on the other hand, it may fail to acclimatize itself ; but we cannot be sure of that. The prickly pear, is a comparatively recent importation to Australia, and so are many of our other noxious weeds that are now causing so much annoyance and damage. Why do not these men who are so anxious to have themselves foisted on to the Commonwealth go out and do some useful work? I am quite tired of seeing gentlemen who profess to be doing something sitting all day long in an office. These men would not know one weed from another, and have no practical idea of the way in which weeds should be destroyed. I tell the Government that far too many Commissions and Boards are being appointed in order to tell other people how to do the work of the country. There are very few men working in this country to-day. Some people object when the ordinary worker suggests that his hours of labour should be reduced from eight to six per day; but there are vast armies of men and women in the country who never do any useful work at all.
– I should like the honorable senator to connect his remarks with the amendment.
– Here is an effort being made, apparently with the full concurrence of the Government, to rent another extensive establishment in Melbourne, and probably one in each of the capital cities, in order to duplicate work’ that is now being carried out by the State Governments. The idea of doing any practical work never seems to occur to their minds. - If the Government wish to deal with the prickly pear, or any other weed of the kind, they should equip these gentlemen with a mattock’ each, and give them £3 or £4 per week to go out and do some useful work, and get off the backs of the workers of the country. We have to-day in Europe about 50,000,000 men under arms.
– Order !
– We have enormous numbers of men to-day doing no useful productive work, and a very limited number engaged in useful work in this and in other countries of the world are keeping all the rest in food, clothing, and munitions of war. If honorable senators imagine that this kind of business will be allowed to go on year after year, they must forget that the schoolmaster has been abroad. What is happening in Russia to-day ?
– The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing what is happening in Russia cn an amendment to postpone the operation of this Bill.
– The workers in Russia and elsewhere are quite tired of the kind of gentlemen to be provided for under this Bill. There is a determined effort being made now by this WintheWar Government to foist a number of additional parasites upon the workers of this country.
– They want to kill the parasites..
– Not they. Apparently the great desire of the WintheWar Government is to appoint a number of gentlemen, not for a year or two, but probably for a life-time, and at continually increasing salaries, in order that they may assist to consume the surplus profits of the few men who are now working. As one who represents the workers of the country in this Chamber, I enter my* strongest protest against this kind of thing. If it is permitted to continue, we need not be surprised if something like what is taking place in Russia at the present time takes place in this country. Some men appear to be determined not to do any useful work. They prefer to foist themselves into positions where they can legally enjoy the fruits of the labours of other men. In my opinion, they ought to be ashamed of themselves. If the Government, instead of placing these men in those positions, equipped them with mattocks, and told them to go out and do some useful work, they would kill more weeds in one month than are likely to be killed in twelve years under the operation of this Bill.
– I have listened with a certain amount of interest to the wild and whirling contribution that Senator Grant has made to the debate, but I want to ask the Committee to reject the amendment, which is purely and simply an effort to destroy the Bill. It is a matter of urgency that a Bureau of Science and Industry should be established.
– It is about as urgent as the establishment of the Commonwealth police.
– The honorable senator has had his opportunity to speak, and I hope he will permit me to say what I desire to say. Amongst the multifarious duties I have been called upon to perform as a Minister of the Crown, I have been especially interested in my work as President of the Wheat Board. I make no claim to be a scientist, but I do claim sufficient common sense to be able to recognise the danger we are Tunning in Australia in connexion with the preservation of our wheat. To-day we have 5,000,000 tons of wheat stacked in Australia, and it is probable that before February next we shall have 7,000,000 tons of wheat stacked, for which guarantees have been given by the Government. I have had to shoulder responsibility in connexion with the matter, and on the scientific side I have been unfitted by lack of scientific training to effectively carry out that duty. We all know the enormous loss that has been caused by the ravages of the plague pf mice. We had no previous knowledge of the effects of such a plague, and I say that if, at the outbreak of the plague, we possessed the knowledge which we now possess in regard to preventive measures, we might have saved the Commonwealth from £200,000 to £400,000. I hope, within a few minutes, to point out what is being done to combat some of the pests in Australia to-day. We do not object to the weevil itself, but we do object to the destruction of our wheat by this pest. We have endeavoured to avertthat destruction by every method known to us. In South Australia, where members of the State Wheat Board have been working with the full consent of the State Government, in close co-operation with the Commonwealth authorities, Dr. Hargreaves;a member of that body, has for some months been conducting experiments designed to solve this perplexing problem, with the result that to-day we are more hopeful of saving the wheat which is stored in Australia than we have been at any previous period. The solution of this difficulty appears to lie in building airtight sheds round our wheat stacks, roofing them with rubberoid, and pumping carbon dioxide into them. This appears to effectually prevent the ravages by weevil without affecting injuriously the quality of the grain. Before we are very much older we shall be spending many thousands of pounds in enclosing our wheat stacks in the way I have outlined, because we have to recognise that shipping was never so scarce as it is to-day, and it may yet be necessary for us to hold our wheat here for three or four years.
– And allow men like McBride to make fortunes ?
– Surely to goodness the honorable senator dbes not associate me with a man like McBride,in South Australia. The honorable senator is more responsible than I am for having such a man in his own State. McBride does not belong to this State.
– Why, he is a member of Bradbury and Company, of this State.
– Surely I am not a friend of Bradbury’s. I do ask the honorable senator not to associate me with such individuals, because there is nothing in my record to justify it. I have always, to the best of my ability, exposed men of that class when they have come into contact with my own Department. The experiment to which I have referred has proved successful so far as we have tested it, and we have tested it with the worst samples of our wheat. If by the expenditure of some thousands of pounds we can preserve that wheat for three or four years, it will be a veritable triumph on the part of Dr. Hargreaves, who is the originator of this particular process.
Last week we were repeatedly told, during the course of the debate upon this measure, that the States were not co-operating with us. In this connexion may I point out that Western Australia has just offered to the Commonwealth a very valuable block of land, 25 acres in extent, in the very heart of the city of Perth. Then Mr. Ryan has been quoted as a great opponent of the Bill and I have no doubt that some honorable senators, who do not view it with favour, have been appealing to the State Premiers to make their voices heard upon it. But in the Brisbane Courier of the 10th instant, I find the following: -
Some time ago a deputation waited upon the Premier to ask that a subsidy of £2,000, to augment a Federal subsidy of £4,000, should be granted to the Federal Bureau of Science to investigate a scheme for the destruction of prickly pear by the cultivation of a natural insect enemy. The scientists expressed con- siderable confidence of success, and the Premier agreed to give the matter careful consideration. Nothing more was heard of it till last night, when the Minister for Lands, in the course of a short speech on the Lands Estimates, announced that the Government had decided to vote the subsidy of £2,000 for the purpose sought. The announcement was received with expressions of pleasure by some of the country members.
– I have heard from Mr. Holman in regard to the interpretation which was put upon my statement here. But as that interpretation was so obviously incorrect - as the Hansard report of our debatesproves - it really has no bearing upon this question. We have the clearest intimation that we can secure the co-operation of the States on this matter. If honorable senators do not desire the measure they will, of course, vote for the amendment; but if they are in favour of it they will vote against the amendment.
.- The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) has argued that the Advisory Council of Science and Industry has assisted him to do a great deal of important work. He has told us that Dr. Hargreave has found a remedy for the dreadful weevil pest. That gentleman, I understand, is connected with the University of Adelaide, and with the activities of the State Government in connexion with this very important matter. Is itnecessary, therefore, to create a new Federal Department involving an expenditure of £20,000 annually, to do what is already being done? I believe that the Commonwealth, by interfering in the way that is proposed, will kill a lot of valuable work which is already being performed by State experts. I do not think honorable senators understand the work which the States are performing in this connexion.
– Does the honorable senator know that the same State has appointed Mr. Owen, Mr. Love, and myself to manage this question.
– But South . Australia does not want it managed by the creation of an enormous Institute which will be filled with civil servants at high salaries, especially in time of war when we are obliged to resort to compulsion to ensure our war loans being fully subscribed. The States, I repeat, are already doing the work which will be done by the proposed Institute. Until I began to look into the matter closely, I really was not aware of what the States were doing in this direction. But I read the Victorian Journal of Agriculture regularly, and from it I learn that many of these problems are already being attacked. We have in this State the splendid Agricultural College at Dookie, where, for the sum of £25 a year, a young man can acquire a splendid knowledge of agricultural work. Noted argiculturists have said that that institution offers the best practical agricultural training that is obtainable in any part of the world. We do not desire the projected Institute of Science and Industry to engage in that sort of work. We have also the Agricultural College at Longerenong. Similarly in New South Wales there is the Hawkesbury College, one of the finest institutions of its kind in the world. Then in Victoria, I learn that free pamphlets are issued by the Government relating to such questions as silo construction, hints for new settlers, cider making, citrus fruit culture, tobacco culture, silos and silage, the beet sugar industry and closer settlement, worms in sheep, cheese making, farm blacksmithing, broom fibre industry, lime in agriculture, numerical system of packing apples, wheat, and its cultivation, &c. There are thirty-three of these pamphlets written by distinguished scientists which anybody can obtain absolutely free.
– That work will proceed without any interference.
-I doubt it. In Queensland Mr. Ryan is very much opposed to this Bill, and in New South Wales the authorities fear that the establishment of the proposed Institute will interfere with the work of the State Bureau. Something has been said on the question of improving our breeds of wheat, but we have already improved our wheat enormously by reason of these State activities, and to-day it is possible to get from the Department of Agriculture special breeds of wheat which practically insure the production of a crop even in the very dry. areas. Such wheats as Special Federation, Dart’s Imperial, Yandilla King, and College Eclipse, make it possible to produce crops in country where wheat could not previously be grown.
– In South Africa they are growing wheat without any rainfall at all.
– I will accept that statement with a grain of salt. But we are travelling rapidly in the direction indicated by the honorable senator. Our splendid Agricultural Department, aided by applied science, is enabling us to grow wheat in areas possessing a very limited rainfall. Measures for the eradication of the cattle tick constitute one of the. most important functions which will be exercised by the Institute which it is proposed to establish under this Bill. But I fear” that there is bound to be a clash between the Institute and the State Bureau.
– Why should there be?
– May I read to the honorable senator what took place at the last Conference of the Commonwealth Advisory Council of Science and Industry ? A Conference was held to devise a scheme to promote Federal cooperation with the States in regard to combating certain pests. Their report states -
The second recommendation of the Committee, namely, that the Federal Government should undertake a campaign for the eradication of the tick, could not be acted upon by the Advisory Council itself, as it had not the necessary administrative powers. It therefore forwarded the recommendation to the Commonwealth Government, with the suggestion that, if the Government agreed that it was desirable that the Commonwealth should intervene in the matter, it should ask the States specially concerned - New South Wales and Queensland - to affirm, the desirability of Federal co-operation, and, as a first step, to appoint . delegates to a conference, at which a detailed scheme for a co-operative campaign could be drawn up. This action was taken by the Commonwealth Government, and the two States appointed delegates to a conference with representatives of the Commonwealth, which was held in Brisbane in February, 1918.
– Hear, hear! The States agreed with the idea.
– The Minister had better wait until I tell him the outcome -
The delegates of New South Wales and Queensland placed before the Conference parti- culars of certain changes in the situation which had taken place since the meeting of the Committee in Sydney eighteen months previously. The chief modifications were that New South Wales had started compulsory continuous dipping in the Tweed River quarantine area, and that the Queensland Government had appointed an Advisory Board to assist the Stock Department in the control of tick, and had voted a special subsidy for the work of the Board.
The Minister will see that the States have taken the matter in hand, and do not want the Commonwealth to intervene -
In the opinion of the majority of the members of the Conference -
That is, the people appointed by the Federal Government - these changes did not diminish the importance of Federal co-operation with the States in tick eradication, but the Queensland delegates stated that, in their opinion, this was no longer desirable -
That is a most important point - though they had recommended it eighteen months before. They thought that the new Queensland Board was doing all that was necessary in that State, and they stated that Queensland’s experience of Federal intervention in connexion with other matters had led them to modify their opinions as to its desirability in tick eradication.
– I am glad the honorable senator noted the “other matters.” He was as much responsible for them as I was. That phrase must refer to the Commonwealth Police.
– The point is, that the new Institute of Science and Industry is to be appointed for one purpose among many, that of eradicating the tick. But the Queensland people who have been at the work for a long time say to the Commonwealth, “ Please do not interfere with us. We are getting along. We are employing scientists. You will only overlap the work, and annoy us by getting in our road.” The Minister wants us to pass a Bill involving a cost of £20,000 a year to do this work over again.
– I promise that we shall not overlap or undertake anything that is being done now.
– I should have more faith in the Minister’s promise if he were going to remain in power and give his whole time to the project; but he tells us that he has such numerous duties to attend to that he will be able to spare this sort of job only a quarter of an hour per day. I have never known a time when it has been so difficult to get near a Minister. Ministers ‘ are overburdened with work. They are obviously worked to death in connexion with all kinds of war problems. I have never seen men work so hard in my life. Talk about
Senator Grant’s man working eight hours per day! Ministers work sixteen hours per day.
– You do not call that work ?
– I do. I would sooner work with my hoe at prickly pear than with my head here, any day in the week.
– Why do you not take it on then ?
– I have worked a great deal harder than the honorable senator has ever worked. I am no opponent of science, which is absolutely necessary in all directions, but I oppose this proposal because I fear it will interfere with the work the States are doing. I do not think it is legal. I heard Senator Milieu’s reply to the constitutional point I took previously. He argued that the proposal came under “ matters incidental to the execution “ of our powers.
– Order! I ask the honorable senator not to deal with that matter at this stage.
– The point I am nervous about is that we are going to interfere with the really good work that is being done now in all directions. All these pests are being scientifically treated already. I cannot see why the Commonwealth should come in at this late hour, after the States have borne the heat and burden of the day for so long. They have worked, up to a pitch of knowledge and experience which it will take the new Institute, however scientific, many months, and perhaps years, to arrive at. This is not the time for the Commonwealth to interfere. Ministers are overworked, and will not be able to give the necessary time and attention to the undertaking.
– There is also the industrial side, which is very important.
– ‘Does the honorable senator refer to the finding of fresh enterprises ?
– Yes, finding and developing them.
– Our State Departments have been trying for years to start fresh enterprises, such as the growing of flax, hemp, and sugar-beet ; but the population has been so sparse that it has had more than it could do to carry on the great primary industries and the secondary industries connected with them. That is the direction in which our efforts should be continued, and the .States are doing it already. If we had any money to spare, I should advise spending it on water conservation. The impression of General Pau, the splendid Frenchman who is among us just now, is that Australia is a waterless land.
– And he has been here a fortnight!
– The onlooker often sees most of the game. I have been here all my life, and entirely agree with General Pau that we in Australia have no business to allow a drop of water to get to the sea.
– Will the honorable senator connect his remarks with the amendment?
– I am showing the necessity of knocking the Bill clean out in the interests of science, so that we shall not interfere with what the States are doing. Water conservation is most important. A drought is now hanging over a great part of the continent, and if it continues I do not like the financial outlook. I’ crossed the Edwards, a tributary of the Murray, the other day - 5 miles of running water. Could we not conserve some of that, if there is money to spare? That i3 a channel into which every farthing drawn from Australian pockets, even if it has to he drawn by compulsion, might worthily go ; but what we are asked to do now is simply to interfere with the good work being done by the States, and that is a thing we ought not to do. Tho financial outlook is very grave.
– That is the more reason why we want science to help us.
– We are doing through the States’ activities everything we can, as reasonable human beings, to encourage science. I have shown that pamphlets are available to educate us on every point. Every industry has its journal dealing mouth by month with the problems affecting it. We in Australia are very prone to run ourselves down ; yet our wool industry is looked on as the finest of its kind in the world. Our methods of conducting that industry .are ‘being copied everywhere; and it is the same with the butter industry. Those are industries natural to the soil, and there are others that we are conducting well, such as the frozen-meat industry, of which I can recollect the start. My father was the first man, in conjunction with Mr. Hastings Cunningham and Mr. Fred. Armitage, to ship meat successfully from any part of the world. One or two shipments were made from the River Plate, but they were not absolutely successful. As soon as we get more population we shall very quickly be abreast of any scientific development that is extant. Our Departments of Agriculture, and Committees dealing with tick and other pests, are in almost daily communication with every department of science anywhere, and no discovery can be made which we would not know of in course of post, if not by cable. This proposal is, therefore, unwise, especially at a time like this, when we are right up against a big financial problem. We are inclined to pat ourselves on the back because, when the Government asked for £40,000,000, they received £37,000,000. I am not inclined to pat myself on the back over that transaction, because compulsion was practically applied.
– I should be glad if the honorable senator would connect his remarks with the amendment.
– My point is that we really have not the money to start this Institute and pay these salaries to the extent of £20,000 a year. Australia is in a serious financial position.
– All countries are the same.
– That makes it no better. I saw one financial crisis in Australia when the banks smashed, and I do not want to see another. People were actually starving. These crises come on with great rapidity. It is the business of the Federal Government, who talk about economy so much to be practised by other people, to show the way it should be practised. We are actually saving in paper, but what is the good of saving a few pounds in paper if we are going to spend thousands in enterprises of this sort?
– What if the scientists told us how to make paper?
– The various State Departments are looking every day into these questions. Why should we rush- in and try to supersede their efforts?
The effect of the compulsory measure now before another place will be to tighten up the money market tremendously. It will have an immense effect on the amount of capital available for enterprises. It will make it absolutely impossible for many a man to wire-net his property to destroy rabbits, because his money will be required for the war. That is only natural, but he will look askance when he sees the money taken out of his pocket being applied, not to the war, but to a hare-brained experiment of this sort. Every way I look at it, the position is most serious. We ought to take months, if not years, to consider this proposition.
– Can you point to one country that is not increasing its expenditure on scientific research and the education of its people?
– The States are increasing theirs.
– This is absolutely a State matter, in spite of what Senator Millen said. I still hold that this is a State matter, and that we have no power to touch it. I fear that we shall spoil the effects of what scientific work has been already achieved if the Commonwealth now steps in. As to the advantages of science, the Minister and I are entirely at one.
– Not altogether, since I desire to bring about co-operation, and you want to maintain disunited efforts.
– But all the States are saying, “ Please let us alone. We are doing our work well. We are afraid that your Commonwealth interference will override us.” When we see the work being reasonably well done, we should leave it in .the hands of those who have carried on very fairly well in the past. A number of our industries are an example to the world. Butter, for instance, is one of which we should be proud. Why the Argentine has not beaten us out of our supremacy I cannot understand. Our industry has been magnificently conducted, and that has been greatly due to the policy of State encouragement and assistance. _ If the Minister desires to serve the best interests of the country with respect to scientific investigation, he will offer the State Departments a helping hand. If we have two cooks making this broth we shall spoil it.
.- I cannot appreciate Senator Fairbairn’s attitude. I take the very opposite view. With what the honorable senator has said regarding the financial position, I quite agree; but his one point appears to be that he fears the Commonwealth Institute of Science will duplicate expenditure. Many of our State institutions have been more or less failures. In their beginnings, indeed, they have been complete failures, and thousands of pounds have been wasted. No doubt, the Federal Government, upon taking up similar matters, will also make mistakes. But, instead of finding fault in this particular case, honorable senators should realize that scientific research is amongst the most appropriate works which the Federal authorities could undertake.
I have been in the cattle country in the Gulf of Carpentaria when tick was extremely bad. Nobody in Queensland cared a snap of the fingers about the cattle men in the Gulf, so long as they were not affected. I have seen mobs of Gulf cattle leave some of the stations from Carpentaria Downs on the way to the Bowen Meat Works. There would be some 500 or 600 head of cattle. They were all clean when they set out, but they had to traverse the tick country. Only seven of one mob of between 500 and 600 reached Bowen, and those few survivors were skeletons. The fatter the beast and the better its health, the sooner did the tick get to work, and the animal quickly died. What I have just cited occurred in the early days. When tick began to decimate our Queensland cattle, redwater broke out, and the question was whether the redwater accompanied, or was the result of the tick. Nobody knew exactly whether it was the redwater or the tick that was killing the cattle. The tick spread down through Queensland and reached the dairy herds, and our losses were enormously heavy. Had there been a central bureau-, possessed of the best of scientific men and knowledge, the tick question would have been tackled years earlier, and the loss saved to Queensland alone would have more than paid all expenses. But investigations were carried on in a muddled fashion, and the best of the State’s dairy herds, meanwhile, were being swept away. Finally it was concluded that the only thing to do was to introduce dips. Honorable senators are not aware of the enormous losses which Queensland stock-owners have suffered. Many dairy-herders have been ruined. Ten to thirty cows have been lost from one herd in a week. Had there been a central bureau, investigating the subject from the Commonwealth view-point, the tick could have been grappled with far earlier, and huge sums of money might have been saved.
When the tick reached the New South Wales border, the Government of that State sought to shut it out; but kangaroos, and rabbits, and dos;s helped to scatter it. New South Wales to-day has the cattle tick within its borders. Queensland cattle were shut out from the other States during the process of endeavouring to deal with the problem. Had a central bureau been established, the subject would have been promptly handled, and in a scientific way, and authority could have been given to permit fat and tickfree cattle to cross the border to the other States, where the price of meat had risen because of the shortage of Queensland supplies. An honorable senator asks, “Is not Mr. Ryan allowing the cattle through now ? “ I answer - Yes ; when Mr. Ryan opens the border up, and does not steal other people’s cattle on the border.
– Is he a borderer?
– Yes, he is a cattleduffer, only he legally does it. That is the only difference. Queensland has borne the loss; but why should she do so? If cattle die of tick in Queensland, it is only indirectly making the price of meat dearer in other parts of Australia. Thus it becomes a Commonwealth matter; and from the Commonwealth view-point it would pay to establish a central bureau.
– You would not suggest investigating the cattle-tick in Melbourne 1
– It is not necessary to start out in Melbourne; but the head office must be established somewhere. The honorable senator would say, in Tasmania, of course; but I am not troubled as to where the central office shall be, so long as it goes about its work in the quickest and best manner.
– The work will be done where the tick is..
– A good deal has been .aid about the palatial offices to be established for this Institute. Senator Fairbairn has made three plaintive speeches about the awful expenditure, but no opponent of the scheme has been able to show that direct opposition has emanated from any one of the States except New South Wales, where Mr. Holman seems to take up a chronic attitude that whatever the Commonwealth proposes he will oppose. As for Mr. Ryan,, he has not indicated that he is fully opposed to the Federal scheme. He has pointed out that Queensland was not consulted; but he has not taken up an attitude of opposition to the proposal.
The prickly pear has been one of the greatest curses from which Queensland has suffered. I know Queensland well. I have watched the spread of the prickly pear for years. Great tracts of country have been covered, and now the pear is creeping into New South Wales, and is becoming a menace to its back districts. The Queensland Government have been trying to tackle the prickly pear, but, so far, all efforts have been a failure. A laboratory was established at Dulacca, a station in the centre of the prickly pear country. Recently the cochineal insect has been introduced, not by a scientist, but by a practical cattle man, and he thinks it will succeed in destroying the prickly pear. If that should be so, then, if the central Institute were established, the work accomplished in Queensland could be applied in practical form to the prickly pear all over Australia. It is a menace to the whole of the Commonwealth, and, therefore, I say that experiments carried out by the Institute in connexion with the prickly pear would, if successful, be ample justification for its establishment.’ I may give honorable senators an example of how vigorous this pest is. Recently, in Queensland, I saw the leaf of a prickly pear which some one had thrown over a wire fence. There it was, hanging by itself, and, although it was not -touching the ground, it was growling vigorously, simply because there had been a wet season and it had stored up sufficient moisture for its own needs. Honorable senators’ have nt> idea how rapidly this pest is spreading and how vigorously it is growing. In some of the shire council districts of Queensland steps have been taken for its destruction, and the local authorities thought they were keeping it in check; but, after a good rainfall, it conies up smiling again and as vigorous as ever. Up to the present the authorities in Queensland have not been able to discover a poison sufficiently strong, or an insect parasite virile enough, to combat the pest, which ii spreading so rapidly as to become a serious danger to the State of New South Wales. Hundreds of thousands of acres are now covered with it.
There are other reasons why this proposed Institute will command my support, in spite of what Senator Fairbairn and other honorable senators who are opposing the measure have to say against it. In regard to the blowfly pest alone, the pastoralists of Australia have lost thousands, if not millions, of pounds. Why should each State .work independently in the fight against this menace to the flocks of Australia?
– For the reason that in the variety of experiments scientists might make a discovery leading to the extinction of the pest.
– I thought Senator. Bakhap would say that. We must not forget that all the experiments now being carried out may be continued, but by the establishment of the proposed Institute they may be co-ordinated. We may realize the importance of the work ahead of this Institute when we remember that the value of last season’s wool clip, which the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has sold to the Imperial Government, approximates £45,000,000. As compared with, that immense sum, the cost of the Intitute to each State is not worth consideration, especially as the blowfly pest, which is now a great menace to the flocks of Australia., is of comparatively recent origin.
– But Senator Fairbairn says that they have had it in the Old Country for many years, and tha.t science has not succeeded in coping with it.
– While the experiments in the Old Country may not have been successful, there is no reason why we should not endeavour to grapple with the pest under Australian conditions, and if we engage the services of the best scientists we may be successful.
– We have offered to assist the New South Wales and Queensland Governments pound for pound to carry out experiments in connexion with the blowfly pest. If that is not coopera.tion, what is?
– Now, with reference to wheat production, to which Senator Fairbairn made some reference, I have yet hopes that Australia will become a wheat-growing country.
– It is now.
– Oh ! You can guess eggs when you see shells.
– In my judgment, we have not yet developed the resources of Australia in this respect In Queensland and in South Australia we have millions of acres of land which, under scientific treatment, should some day be producing wheat. The practical experience gained in America shows that immense areas of dry country may, under proper scientific treatment, be brought into profitable occupation for the production of wheat. And this is one of the problems which the proposed Institute should handle. If we could only solve this difficulty, vast areas of country which at present afford a living for only a few human beings engaged in the cattle industry will be carrying large numbers of people employed in wheat production. At present a cattle station gives employment to about three white men and a dozen blacks. I know that is the position in the Gulf country, and I am not finding fault with station owners, because that is all the labour that is required. Sheep stations also .give employment to comparatively few people, perhaps a dozen or twenty men, whereas, if we could bring that land under wheat cultivation we. could look for a large increase in our population after this war is over. I am not going to lose faith in Australia and its people because, at the present time, we are getting only 3s. 9d. or 4s. per bushel for our wheat. If there was nothing else to induce me to vote for this Bill for the establishment of a central scientific Institute, I would give it my support for the one reason that if we could successfully solve the problem of growing wheat in our dry areas it would more than justify its existence.
Important results will also follow the scientific conservation of our water supplies. Senator Fairbairn made reference to the Murray River, but in Queensland we have many splendid rivers, and if only we could conserve their water supplies very important results would follow in connexion with our primary industries. How it is going to be done I do not know, but if our water supplies could be successfully conserved, it would mean the salvation of the interior of Australia. It is because I look at all these problems from a practical point of view that I am in favour of the Bill. It seems to me that its opponents regard it from a narrow view-point. I think the Government are acting wisely in taking steps for the development of .our primary industries. Let us consider, also, what will be the effect upon our secondary industries. At present we have scarcely any secondary industry worth speaking about, but with the Institute of Science and Industry properly established, we should be able to support an immense increase in our population. Science is coming into its own, and-
– Have a good Tariff operative, and our secondary industries will develop.
– That does not matter. Unless we have the brains and science to guide us in the development of our secondary industries, we shall have to pay more for our products than they are worth. It must be our object to make this country self-supporting, not only as regards our primary, but. our secondary industries also. That is why I am an enthusiastic supporter of the Bill, and I trust that some of its opponents will show that they have more faith in Australia, and will assist the Government in the scheme, i
Senator PRATTEN (New South Wales) [5.3~. - The question before the Committee i3 whether or not this Bill shall be put into operation five years hence, and I think you, Mr. Chairman, have very rightly allowed an extremely wide discussion on this point, for the clause deals with the establishment of the Institute and all that it means. I supported the second reading of the Bill, and, in spite of the many arguments adduced, not only this afternoon, but on the previous day of sitting, I see no reason why my support should not be continued. I must admit that a good deal of further light has been thrown upon the problems with which we are beset by those who have opposed the Bill. The discussion has been illuminating and profitable to honorable senators who desire to consider the Bill fairly from a non-party stand-point, and in the interests solely of the people of Australia.
The Senate represents the States in a more particular way than does the other Chamber of this Legislature, and I think that the State point of view should be considered, particularly in the Senate, when matters of this kind come up for consideration. We have heard that the Premier .of Queensland is to some extent in accord with this Bill. Since its introduction I have received from the Premier of New South Wales a communication which confirms the statement made by Senator Russell this afternoon that, as representing the dominant majority of the Parliament of New South Wale3, the Premier of that State is opposed to the Bill. I understand that Mr. Holman communicated with the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) in connexion with this measure, in response to a communication from Senator Russell, to the following effect : -
The New South Wales Government was informed that Senator Russell postponed the Institute of Science Bill to obtain opinions of States. If this correct, beg you convey to him opinion of this Government has not changed that duplication of effort involved is undesirable, and will lead to large avoidable expenditure both money and effort. As you are aware, we have accepted it as accomplished fact, but if now matter is open to reconsideration, bes you. will understand that we are emphatically of opinion formerly expressed.
– Mr. Holman recognises the merits of the proposal, because he voted £2,000 for co-operation in connexion with the eradication of the prickly pear.
– Is that in addition to the vote made by the Queensland Government ?
– I should have felt more easy as a representative of one of the States if the “Vice-President of the Executive Council had been more frank with honorable senators as to the way in which this proposal is taken by the State Premiers, for instance, of Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, and even of Tasmania. I consider this is a matter which should be very deliberately and carefully discussed, because there is a growing irritation amongst the public at the duplication of the work of various Departments. We already have duplications in various directions in connexion with our electoral machinery, our taxation machinery, for the collection of both income and land taxes, and duplication in connexion with State Agricultural Departments and Customs examinations. There is duplication of Federal and State effort in connexion with some other matters also. Therefore, although I am in favour of the principle of the Bill,’ I listened with a good deal of satisfaction to the voices raised in opposition to it on the ground that it involves duplication of effort.
– The inclination is towards co-ordination.
– The inclination is towards co-operation, and I have been glad to hear from time to time from the Minister in charge of the Bill statements tending to show that the intention is cooperation, and not clashing with the activities of the States.
– Nothing else is desired.
– The Minister has poetically described the fields of corn, as the result of the efforts of the practical scientists in New South Wales, being changed from yellow to a golden-brown. I may say that there has recently been a very important discovery made in connexion with the treatment of anthrax. The investigation is being continued by a New South Wales organization to-day, and I hope that the spirit and letter of cooperation will be given effect in the work of the proposed Institute.
The main objection to the Bill appears to be that it proposes to duplicate “work already being carried out by the State authorities; but I do not think there is one member of the Committee who will not admit that, in addition to the work now being carried out by State organizations, there is a great deal of other work which might be done by an Institute of the kind proposed. There is work for a bureau of information, in the direction of metallic prospecting, which is not now undertaken by the States, and I believe there is a fair field for work by the proposed Institute without interfering in any way with scientific work now being carried on by State organizations.
If I were asked definitely to-day whether I would vote for the Bill in its entirety, I should hesitate to reply, because if it be carefully perused honorable members will find that it proposes the establishment of a somewhat- peculiar organization. The directors and officials are not to be under the Public .Service Act, but under the full control of the Minister. I shall have something to say about these aspects of the measure later on. It will be seen that if the provisions of the Bill are given effect in their entirety, the proposed Institute will develop into “what will practically be a machine of patronage by the Minister,
– Everything must be done under regulations, of which Parliament must approve.
– It is clearly provided by the Bill that the Minister shall have power to appoint the officials. I consider that a dangerous power to give any Minister. - “ The CHAIRMAN (Senator Shannon). - That is not the question before the Chair.
– I hope to connect these remarks with reasons why we should or should not vote for the suspension of the operation of the Bill for five years. I say quite frankly that I am placed in a difficult position, owing to one or two provisions of the kind to which I have referred. There is, in my opinion, a danger of some sort of nepotism in. connexion with the proposed Institute if the clauses of this Bill are carried as they stand.
– There are similar provisions in the Defence Act.
– That measure was passed long before I had the honour sin d privilege of entering this chamber. This is the first Bill which has come under my observation containing provisions of this kind, .and I say that I regard them as dangerous. If this is good enough to spend a paltry £20,000 on, it is good enough to give the directors practically carte blanche to carry out their job, without interference by the Minister, in the appointment of officials, or any interference beyond suggesting the policy of the Institute, and provision by Parliament to secure the money necessary for the work to be done.
– I am quite willing to consider the clauses to which the honorable senator has referred, but I think he will find that there was no way out of it, and we could not put these officers under the Public Service Commissioner.
– I have been quite frank with the Minister in saying that I see no reason to recall my support of the principles of the Bill. At the same time, since honorable members have had an opportunity to consider its provisions, I have come to the conclusion that there are two or three grave faults in the measure as at present drafted. I consider that I am quite within my rights in submitting this view to honorable senators in connexion with the amendment now under consideration.
I should like to suggest the desirability of including some provision to secure that if the measure is passed there shall be a limit to the amount of money which may be spent in connexion with the proposed Institute until Parliament otherwise determines.
– That is provided for now. All the money required must be voted by Parliament.
– The Minister has stated that the first year’s cost of the Institute will run into about £20,000, but I understand that if the Bill is passed and authority is given for the creation of the Institute, ipso facto authority will be given for a larger expenditure than has been mentioned, if the Minister sees fit.
– .I have no power to spend a penny outside the vote of Parliament.
– Am I to understand that, if we pass the Bill, no further sum in addition to the vote of £3,000, to which we agreed to-day, will be spent on the Institute until Parliament votes the money ?
– I can give the honorable senator my word that no money will be spent until Parliament passes the Bill, and no expenditure will exceed the parliamentary estimate.
– That is £20,000” for the first year.
– Seventeen thousand pounds is on the Estimates, and that amount will not be exceeded.
– There is £3,000 more on the Works Estimates.
– In these circumstances the Bill will have my support, and I shall not be able to vote for the amendment to postpone its operation for five years. I trust, however, that some attention will be given to the objections I have urged to some of the details of the measure. I should like to add that, in my view, this Parliament might very much better attempt to save £17,000 in other directions in connexion with the millions we are spending now, than display a mean and paltry spirit in connexion with the expenditure proposed under this Bill.
– I had the pleasure of listening to the speech of the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) in moving the second reading of this Bill. I moved the adjournment of the second-reading debate, but as I was obliged during the last fortnight to submit to scientific treatment to combat a certain prevailing malady I was unable to continue the debate. Had I been able to do so I should have been an ardent supporter of the Bill. I consider that such a measure is very necessary in Australia if we are not to continue to move along at the laggard pace we have adopted in the past. People may say what they like about our industrial life, but unless we adopt scientific methods we must inevitably lag behind in the economic struggle.
I had the privilege of visiting the Australian Imperial Force in Egypt a short time ago, and of personally seeing what science has done there in the direction of saving thousands of lives which otherwise would have been sacrificed by reason of the maladies which infest that country. When I arrived iu England, it happened that the very first gathering I addressed was that of the annual meeting of the Royal Society of Scientists, and on that occasion I spoke of what I had seen in Egypt in the way of combating these maladies. At the close of my remarks, I was really surprised to learn that some of the scientists present were so interested in what I had said that they pressed me to dine with them.
One of the reasons why Australia has lagged behind in the race for industrial supremacy is that hitherto she has failed to adopt scientific methods. On the other hand, Germany has been enabled to accomplish what she has by reason of the application of the most up-to-date and scientific methods to all branches of her industries. It is this’ fact which has made it possible for her to hold out for as long as she has done during the present war. Here, in Australia, we now have to make a start in the adoption of scientific methods, if we are to be well up in the economic race. We have the ability to make great advances if we choose to do so.
Only a few years ago one of our most eminent metallurgists attacked the problem of extracting bismuth from wolfram. Thousands of tons of the latter ore were then lying about our mine tops, absolutely valueless. But w.hen this scientist had practically solved the problem of extracting bismuth from it, German agents brought pressure to bear upon the Governments in Australia, with the result that not one of them had the backbone to stand by him, and to see that his scientific methods were put to the test. I believe that since the outbreak of the war this man has proved to the world that it is possible to make this otherwise useless wolfram marketable, with the result that to-day we are able to supply not only our own needs in this matter, but those of other countries.
In view’ of what I had previously heard, I was surprised to read in the newspapers that the motion for the second reading of this Bill had been carried unanimously; and what I have heard here to-day has convinced me that Senator Bakhap’s amendment is merely designed to destroy it. I shall not be a party to tactics of that kind. I intend to assist the Government to pass the measure. A good deal has been said about economy during the course of this discussion, and we know that in Victoria the newspapers are preaching economy today; but it would be false economy to reject this Bill. If we expend £20,000 a year upon the proposed Institute of Science and Industry, and as a result of its establishment effect a saving of £1,000,000, that will be true economy.
We ought not to forget that, only a few years ago, the very newspapers which are preaching economy to-day were loud in their condemnation of the Labour party, and of the Defence scheme which it introduced. The same journals persistently demanded that Parliament should cut down the Military and Naval Estimates, and do away with the then Government’s mad policy of Defence. Had any notice been taken of them, we would never have been able to accomplish what we have done in this war.
I am a confirmed Unificationist, and I am . an Australian. I believe that the Commonwealth should control every industry in this country. By that means alone can we solve the difficulties - which confront us. Then we shall not have three or four States fighting against each other in every direction. With Unification, we should not be the laughing-stock of the world, as we are to-day, because of the fighting which takes place in London between the several States. I am an Australian pure and simple, and I do not care in what part of this continent development takes place, so long as it does take place. I intend to help the Government in every way possible to establish the proposed Institute, in order that we may be well up in the struggle for industrial supremacy.
– Senator McDougall made a very emphatic declaration, which was, indeed, the key to the whole of his remarks. He said, “ I am an Australian, and I am a Unificationist.” With no bated breath, I say that I am an Australian ; but I happen to be a Federalist ; and it is because I am a Federalist that I am here.
– The honorable senator is not angry, is he?
– No. I can be emphatic without being angry.
The Vice-President of the Executive Council let fall from his ammunition cart plenty of cartridges which will fit my gun, and I propose to fire one or two of them. He spoke very enthusiastically of the work of a South Australian scientist in connexion with the investigation of the weevil pest, which is alleged to be destroying large quantities of our wheat. Now, if Dr. Hargreaves is able to discover a gas which will kill this “ bug,” as ‘the Americans call it, more power to him. But is not that circumstance a sufficient illustration in itself that the States have in their service scientists who are capable of successfully combating those pests which infest the products of Australian industries from time to time.
Only the other day Professor Laby, a scientist of considerable attainments, many of whose publications I have read with pleasure and profit, rushed into the columns of the Argus in order to bolster up the Institute which it is proposed to establish under this Bill. He published an article which was quite unnecessary, because it vaunted the advantages of scientific investigation, and of the application of science in a direct way to production, and to various branches of industry. Somewhat unfortunately for his argument, however, he instanced the researches of a gentleman named Farrar, a resident of New South Wales, who has made a very lengthy Mid satisfactory investigation in regard to the production of new drought-resisting, and rust-resisting, wheats. I do not know whether Mr. Farrar is a professor; but in New South Wales he carried out investigations which, were productive of certain definite results. Now, if the Commonwealth have money to spare, can it not subsidize men like Mr. Farrar?
– It will gladly do so. That is the intention of the Bill.
– The Government can do that without the aid of this Bill.
The very pith and marrow of our opposition to the measure is that these things can be done without the duplication of machinery which is already in existence.
– What does the honorable senator mean when He talks of duplicating machinery that is already in existence ?
– There is an item of £4,000 in respect of buildings to begin with. I also recollect that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), who really established the existing Bureau without the sanction of Parliament, affirmed that there was going to be an expenditure of £500,000 upon it.
– Hesaid that if things could be made prosperous in Australia he was prepared to spend up to £500,000. But that is a nice sort of argument to use here. The honorable senator might as well quote all the poets. .
– Did the Prime Minister say that the preliminary expenses in connexion with the Institute would amount to half a million sterling ?
– Absolutely no.
– Why, the statement was published throughout the length and breadth of Australia.
– It was used as an illustration, and not as a fact. The honorable senator is intelligent enough to know that.
– I am intelligent enough to know that in this Bill there is a proposal to superimpose a Commonwealth Department upon’ six existing State Departments.
The fact of the matter is that sooneror later a halt must be called if the Federal principle of our Constitution is to be observed in connexion with these increases of Commonwealth activities. Like Senator Fairbairn, I have some doubt as to the constitutionality of this measure. Of course, I do not pretend to possess any legal knowledge, but, as a layman, I venture to express a doubt as to its validity if it should ever be challenged.
– I have some doubt of the constitutionality of the honorablesenator’s amendment.
– My amendment is in perfect accord with our Constitution.
– The motion for the second reading of the Bill has been carried, and yet the honorable senator is now attempting to knock it out.
– In connexion with the Standing Orders of this Chamber, the High Court has decided that my amendment is perfectly constitutional.
Upon the motion for the second reading of this Bill Senator O’Keefe spoke at some length in regard to the discovery of a method of smelting pyritic ores on the west coast of Tasmania. In order to show how necessary it is that all these scientificinvestigations should be prosecuted with a strict regard to the practical result let me recall to Senator O’Keefe the fact that Australian scientists, metallurgists, mine managers, and investors knew very well the value of the Mount Lyell copper ore deposit. But they knew, also, that they were not esteemed highly enough tosecure the necessary capital for the treatment of the deposit. Dr. Peters - the highest known authority on the smeltingof pyritic copper ores - was brought from the Lake Superior district, ‘and givencarte blanche for six months to conduct investigations into the nature of the ore. He recommended that it should be put in heaps and calcined, the sulphur contained in it being used as a fuel. If Dr. Peters’ advice had been followed, the Mount Lyell Company would have ceased to operate two years after smelting started.
– His advice was the basis of the present metallurgical treatment.
– As a matter of fact, practical metallurgists grouped together on the spot ignored the advice of Dr. Peters, and shot the ore right into the furnace raw, obviating the calcination charge of 15s. per ton. The Mount Lyell ore at the present time does not return a profit equal to what that calcination charge would have been. The hot-air blast is all done away with. The employment of thousands of men to chop fuel was also done away with as the result of the practical experiments of the men on the spot. If Dr. Peters, notwithstanding his great experience of copper smelting, had continued experimenting with Mount Lyell ores at Lake Superior, the practical result would not have been satisfactory. Tho point and pith of my argument is that the operations of scientists employed by State Departments on the spot dealing with local conditions and with matters arising in the particular States which constitute their spheres of operation, are likely to be more satisfactory in their discoveries than if their activities are directed from one centre in the temporary Federal Capital at Melbourne.
I predict that in questions of discovery and research the too great concentration which will ensue will be prejudicial to systematic scientific investigation. The very great scientists, those whose discoveries are severely practical, are not those educated in universities. Great scientists are often like great poets, of whom, it is said that they “ learn in suffering what they teach in song.” The great scientist has often had a hard task to earn his living. It is the persistence of genius, not Government co-ordination, that results in big things in connexion with scientific research. Pasteur, and the great French centenarian, Chevreul, discovered what they did very largely along the lines of original research. Governments did not do much for them until very late in their careers. Chevreul lived to over 100 years of age. He made important discoveries in regard to the fixation of colours in the dyeing of cloth stuffs when eighty or ninety years of age. He was in Paris at the time of the German bombardment. After the manner of the philosophers of classic times in the- groves of Academus, he was lecturing to the students of his class in the open air, when a German shell fell. He went in, and, like a philosopher, merely recorded in his diary that a scientific institution over which he presided had been bombarded by William of Prussia on such and such a day, to his eternal shame and disgrace.
I do not want any one to believe that I undervalue scientific research. I know of nothing more eloquent than the language of a great scientific publication in dealing with this magnificent old chemist on the one hundredth anniversary of his birth : “ There this magnificent old man sits in his laboratory, holding silent commune with nature, and earnestly, yet reverently, watching the sublime irradiations of immortal Truth.” There could not be a more graphic description of the labours of a scientist. My opposition to the Bill results from the fact that I am a Federalist, just as Senator McDougall’s appreciation of it, results, as he told us, from the fact that he is a Unificationist. As a Federalist, I think it my duty at all times to protest against the unnecessary duplication of State activities. In the present condition of affairs in Australia, in the period of financial stress which I see almost upon us, it will be wise on the part of this Committee to defer the opera.tion of the Bill for five years. By that time many people in Australia will have had a good many financial and intellectual cold showers. They will have had time to reflect.
I cannot help thinking that the arrangements in connexion with this scientific institution very largely savour of these relating to the establishment of the Commonwealth police. That body was established by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in a moment of haste, and the Government do not care about doing away with it altogether for fear that it may constitute an implied slur on the activities of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister dashed in with this matter also, and established the present Advisory Council of Science and Industry. This is one of the things that may well be regarded as altogether unnecessary at this juncture. It is a luxury just now, seeing that we have able scientists active along the lines described by Senator Fairbairn and others in the employ of the States at the present time.
Scientific investigation promises great things, and from time to time realizes them. Mr. Hagelthorn some time ago sent me a pamphlet, issued, I think, at the instance of the adviser of the American Institute of Bankers - presumably a pretty practical association - and including a passage which made a great impression on me: “ Our present knowledge of science is as a cupful of water compared with the whole area of Lake Michigan.” That was an allusion to scientific possibilities. But, for all that, we have Lo pay regard to the homely adage of cutting our coat according to our cloth, and I am afraid our financial cloth in the years immediately ahead of us will be somewhat limited in quantity. If we are extravagant now we may, in the near future, wear a very threadbare coat. I think this amendment is a counsel of prudence - I will not altogether say of wisdom, but prudence to a large extent is an element of wisdom - and I believe it will be exceedingly wise for the Committee to accept the amendment, and, while not destroying the Bill, and allowing it .to proceed to the statute-book, suspend its operations, so to speak, for five years. I have attempted to make it clear that my, attitude is not one of opposition to scientific investigation or research, but, being a Federalist, I object to the unnecessary duplication of State activities, or the superimposition on them of a Commonwealth Department that at the present juncture of our history ‘.s wholly unnecessary.
.- Senators McDougall and Reid said it “/vas apparent that senators supporting Senator Bakhap’s amendment were doing so because they were opposed to the progress of science and industry in Australia. Some of those who oppose the Bill have made themselves quite clear on that point, and I tried last week to show that I was in no way opposing the Bill with any idea of retarding the progress of science and industry. Senator Fairbairn put it very well when he said that none but fools would oppose the advancement of science. We all recognise that if a country is to progress its scientific institutions must go ahead.- I am opposing the Bill simply because, while I agree with the principle underlying it, I disagree with the methods which are being adopted, and disapprove of the creation of this fresh Board of Directors and the duplication of machinery already being operated by the States. Senator Russell referred to the conference recently held in South Australia with such eminently satisfactory results. On that point the following report, which appeared in yesterday’s Melbourne press, is interesting : -
how to overcome it.
A conference of representatives from Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia was held yesterday at the offices of the InterState Commission, to discuss means of dealing with the weevil post, which has caused SUCh an enormous loss to wheat stacks in Australia. The Conference was called together by Senator Russell, as chairman of the Commonwealth Council of Science and Industry, and the Australian Wheat Board. Professor Masson, deputy chairman of the Advisory Council, presided. ‘Dr. Hargreaves and the other South Australian representatives outlined the results of investigations undertaken in that State, which indicated that a, reasonable solution of the problem was in sight. These had shown that it was possible to cover wheat stacks with malthoid, which was impervious to weevil, and by a fumigation process the pest was destroyed. Mr. Oman, Victorian Minister of Agriculture, congratulated the South Australian representatives on this valuable discovery, which, he said, would be a great benefit to all the wheat-growing States of Australia. Subsequently the Conference discussed the question of future research work in this direction, and it was decided to recommend the appointment of a committee in each’ State, whose work would .be co-ordinated by the Commonwealth Advisory Council. It was also recommended that the South Australian committee should receive financial assistance from the Australian Wheat Board for the continuation of its research.
If the facts are as stated there, and I think Senator Russell in his opening address confirmed them, the bottom is knocked clean out of the arguments of Senator Reid and others - that petty jealousies exist between the States, and that it is impossible to bring them together. At that very conference called by Senator Russell, three States were represented, and there was evidently complete unanimity.
– As a result of that conference, something beneficial to Australia has evidently been discovered; and, if such a desirable thing can be brought about in one instance, why can it not be repeated without the appointment of three directors to sit in Melbourne, in control? The bottom of the Bill has been blown out by the conference held in South Australia.
– It is the honorable senator’s argument that has been blown out.
Several other honorable senators interjecting,
– Order! If honorable senators -will not obey the Chair, I must adopt some other method of maintaining order.
– I can see that my arguments are not likely to convince two party-prejudiced men like Senator Newland and Senator Senior, who take the attitude that, because the Government bring forward a measure, it must be perfect. I cannot see the point of Senator Newland’s logic. Already co-operation is in existence between the various States. Already they are working hand-in-hand with the Commonwealth without the necessity for the appointment of this board of directors.
– The honorable senator had as much authority to call that conference as I had. We want to remove that anomaly.
– That is a quibble. It has been pointed out here that it is impossible to get the States to co-operate.
– Nobody made that statement; it is not correct.
– Senator Reid said that petty jealousies existed between the States; and yet, only yesterday, we read of three States working in unison with the Commonwealth Government, and bringing about a desirable result, so far as the whole of the Commonwealth is concerned.
– It was the Commonwealth that intervened and brought it about.
– I said, speaking upon the second reading, that it was quite possible for the Commonwealth to intervene in other directions and seek the active cooperation of the States without endeavouring to create this new Department. The States are willing to co-operate with the Federal authority, and with each other, on any subject likely to be of benefit either to the States or to Australia as a whole. To say that petty jealousies exist between the States, when the future welfare of the States is at stake, is absurd.
Senator Reid, describing what he had seen in Queensland, referred to wheatgrowing. I regard Senator Reid, generally, as a very good authority upon Queensland. He has probably travelled over more of the State than any other Federal representative. He has come into contact with life far from civilization; but he said that if the Science Institute is” established they will be growing wheat in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
– I said no such thing.
– Can you grow wheat in the Gulf of Carpentaria?
– Order ! I do not want to name honorable senators, but if they will not assist the Chair I shall be compelled to do so.
– If, as the result of the inauguration of the Commonwealth Institute, wheat is to be grown in the Gulf of Carpentaria, the day of miracles has not passed. Generally, so far as Queensland is concerned, our wheat-growing has not been as successful as could be desired. Unfortunately, the rainy season comes at the wrong time of the year. It is only a few years since all the indications promised a record crop on the Darling Downs; but rust set in as the result of untimely rains, and the crops were spoilt.
– We want a new wheat to suit the conditions, and that is what the Commonwealth Bureau will give us. That is why I favour the Bill.
– What I thought was most required was a new climate.
– It is the right wheat that is wanted. The climate is all right.
– It is, but it is not so suited to wheat-growing as in the southern States.
I have received a letter from a gentleman in Queensland. It is dated the 12th October, and contains some further information respecting the Bill. Mr. Bunning, the writer, is well known to Queensland legislators, and to many people beyond the State. He is largely interested in industries which are affected by the pests proposed to be dealt with federally. Mr. Bunning is a prominent pastoralist, and is a member of the State Advisory
Board to the Institute of Science and Industry. He has suffered very heavy losses from pests. He is an authority, and his opinions should be heard and respected.
– He is already a voluntary member of the organization.
– That is admitted ; and he, like every other opponent of the Bill, is not opposed . to th advancement of science and industry, but to the methods proposed to be adopted by the Federal Government.
– Will the honorable senator read the first four lines of Mr. Bunning’s letter ? They are very interesting.
– I shall do so in due course. I have some rather long quotations to make first. One is from the Brisbane Daily Mail of the 11th October.
– Order ! I ask the honorable senator if he can connect his remarks with the question of the suspension of the operation of the measure ?
– This information will supply further evidence of why honorable senators should support the amendment.
– Is that evidence biased ?
– I shall leave that for honorable senators to judge.
– The editor of that paper was only about ten minutes in Queensland.
– It makes no difference how long the editor of the Brisbane Daily Mail has been in Queensland. This is an article written by Mr. Bunning, who knows what he is talking about. It states -
Considerable public interest has recently been aroused by the introduction in the Federal Parliament of a Bill-
– The honorable senator will not be in order in reading an extract referring to the Federal Parliament.
– The extract continues -
In the course of a conversation yesterday Mr. Bunning said that he fully recognised the great possibilities in the direction of the application of science to industries in Australia, and the important part which would be played by the bureau which it was proposed to establish.
– I rise to a point of order. I wish to know from what paper the honorable senator is quoting?
– I am quoting from the Brisbane Daily Mail of 11th October.
– Do you say that Mr. Bunning is opposed to the Bill ?
– No. What I shall quote comprises some perfectly legitimate criticisms of the measure.
– If that extract has any reference to the Bill now before the Committee the honorable senator will not be in order in reading it at this stage.
– The honorable senator can move one amendment at a time on each clause. I am prepared to listen to reasonable suggestions.
– If the Chairman rules me out of order-
– Standing order 414 states -
No senator shall read extracts from newspapers or other documents, except Ilansard, referring to debates in the Senate during the same session.
– This extract does not refer to debates in the Senate upon this Bill. I regret I cannot agree with your ruling, Mr. Chairman. The Standing Orders say that I may not quote newspaper extracts referring to debates of the present session, but the extract deals with the Bill generally, and not any particular debate on the measure or statements made by honorable senators in this chamber. I think, therefore, that, on reconsideration, you will agree that I am entitled to quote it for the information of honorable senators -
In the course of a conversation yesterday, Mr. Bunning said that he fully recognised the great possibilities-
– The honorable senator stated just now that the extract referred to a debate in this Senate on the measure now before the Committee, and he must not now attempt by subterfuge to read it.
– But this extract does not refer to any debate that has taken place in this chamber.
– If it is the same as that to which the honorable senator referred just now, he will be out of order.
– But, Mr. Chairman, it is not the same part of the extract. In the Brisbane Daily Telegraph of the 10th October, 1918, the following appears -
Mr. Gr.E. Bunning, in an interview this morning, offered some criticism of the Bill before the Federal Parliament -
– On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I ask if the honorable senator is in order in reading an extract covering a criticism of the whole Bill at this stage, when clause 4 is under discussion? I have been fairly patient, but I draw attention to the fact that the honorable senator should not discuss the whole of the Bill on this clause. He will have ample opportunity, as each clause comes under discussion, of moving any amendment.
– The amendment before the Committee refers to the suspension of the operation of the Act for a term of five years after the passing of the Bill, and honorable senators have been allowed a great deal of scope in the debate as to whether that should be done or not. I have ruled that Senator Foll will not be in order in reading the extract referred to, and if he reads another similar extract from another paper, I shall call him to order.
– Mr. Bunning, in the course of an interview recently by a member of the staff of the Brisbane Daily Telegraph, offered some criticism of this Bill. He said he was in hearty accord-
– Order ! Is the honorable senator still reading from that extract ?
– I am reading from the extract, and summarizing its contents. Mr. Bunning stated that he was in hearty accord with the establishment of this Bureau, but, like honorable senators in this chamber, he was not in agreement as to the methods that are being adopted by the Government for this purpose.
In view of the fact that you, sir, have ruled that I will be out of order in quoting Mr. Bunning’s remarks, all I have to say, in conclusion, is that I will very much regret if Senator Bakhap’s amendment is defeated. Not one fresh argument has been advanced by honorable senators on either side of the chamber, or by the Minister (Senator Russell), to make me change my views in the least with reference to the establishment of this Institute of Science and Industry. Only within the last few days we have had evidence of active cooperation between the Commonwealth and State Governments in combating the weevil pest. And this has been done, too, without the creation of a fresh Commonwealth Department. For some considerable time past there has been complete cooperation between the various States in an effort to eradicate the weevil.
The Minister is unable to point to any instance in which the State Governments have neglected their duty in dealing with these various pests. For many years, the Queensland Government have been offering a reward, at first of £5,000, and then of £10,000, for the discovery of an effective remedy for the prickly pear. Inquiries have been made in all parts of the world, but, in spite of this handsome reward, up to the present no effective means of dealing with the pest have been discovered. If the creation of this Institute of Science and Industry would lead to any fresh development in scientific research, I would not oppose the passage of the Bill, but I cannot see that anything fresh can be done. In the service of every State there are experts in their particular line of business - men who have given their whole life to the study of the many problems that are to be tackled by this new Department - men who are working today in an honest endeavour to find suitable remedies, and, in my opinion, they are doing very good service for this country. The argument that the States will not co-operate has been settled for all time by the fact that, as was stated in the Melbourne Age yesterday, and confirmed by the Minister himself to-day, only a few days’ ago the representatives of three States and of the Commonwealth Government met in conference for the purpose of considering measures designed for the eradication of the weevil pest, for the common good of the whole of Australia. They co-operated without any sign of those petty State jealousies which some honorable senators would lead us to believe exist to-day. In the interests of economy, and because I do not believe in duplication of work that is being done already, I hope the amendment will be carried.
– All the speakers in opposition to the Bill have stated distinctly that they are not opposed to science. But I do not see how they can excuse or explain the attitude they have taken up in favour of science, because it is so patent that science is useful, but against the Bill that would apply science for the benefit of Australia.
– That is not so.
– Opponents of the measure, it appears, have now shifted their ground. Senator Reid put the position very clearly with regard to the cattle tick pest in Queensland, but according to the arguments of opponents of the Bill there is no need for science to go any further in that direction. One honorable senator, who quoted from a document this afternoon in support of his own argument, omitted to notice the very first statement in the article referred to, namely, that the annual loss caused to Australia by the tick amounted to £2,500,000. The point I want to bring out, therefore, is: would it not be true economy to establish this Institute of Science even if it took five years to discover an effective remedy for that pest? It has been argued that the operation of the measure should be postponed for five years, but if the thing is good, we should have it to-day. If it is not good, then it should be postponed indefinitely. But not one of our opponents affirm that it is not good. They say it is good, and it does seem strange that, while they are firm believers in the. efficacy of scientific research, they want to postpone the operation of the measure.
– We say it is unnecessary.
– We are enjoying in this chamber the advantage of the electric light, which is a gift of science. The proposal of the Bill is intended to benefit Australia as a whole.
– Would it not be wise to test the supporters of the amendment by a division?
– I am quite prepared to do so, but I want to point out that if the supporters of the amendment agree that the measure is necessary at any time they should acknowledge that it is necessary now.
It is said that the establishment of the proposed Institute will lead to a duplication of work, but Senator Foll has himself quoted an instance which proves that it is calculated to secure cooperation rather than duplication. I cannot avoid a feeling that there is behind the opposition to this measure an attempt to dictate to this Parliament as to what it should do. That appears evident to me from the quotations which have been made.
– The honorable senator is quite wrong.
– Why, then, did Senator Foll quote from articles which have appeared in a newspaper published in this State ? Do we not know that that newspaper has for some time been carrying on a crusade against alleged extravagant expenditure?
– What have I to gain by quoting an article published in a Melbourne newspaper?
– I do not know, but the honorable senator must recognise that the newspaper referred to has been engaged in a crusade against extravagant expenditure by the Commonwealth. This sort of outside dictation is something, I think, we should stand up against.
– This is very unfair of the honorable senator.
– I do not wish to be unfair to Senator Foll, but I remind him of the first article from which he quoted.
– It was previously quoted by the Minister (Senator Russell).
– That was in order that the Minister might reason from it.
– That is why I quoted it. Let the honorable senator be fair.
– I am second to none in my desire for economy, but I must be satisfied that what is proposed is true economy. If we can discover a remedy for evils that are causing loss to the community, it is false economy to refuse to expend what is necessary to make the discovery. We should not hesitate to spend £100,000 to save £1,000,000. Some honorable senators would appear to believe that we should Wait until other people do something and then take the crutches they have provided instead of walking on our own feet. In Australia we have hitherto claimed to be amongst the foremost of the nations in many respects, and I see no reason why we should not take a foremost place in the application of science to industry.
The following papers were presented : -
Defence Act 1903-1918. - . Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 191S, No. 269.
National Relief Fund. - Report on Administration up to 31st March, 1918. (Paper presented to British Parliament.)
Return to Order of the Senate of 17th October, 1918-
Customs - Value of certain Imports and Duty Paid thereon in 1917.
Sitting suspended from6.27 to 8 p.m.
.- I move -
That a return be laid upon the table showing the value “upon which duty was paid” of the following goods imported into the Commonwealth for the year 1917, also the amount of duty received by the Customs Department on such goods: - Silks; velvets; table covers, quilts, &c; hats and caps; ornaments for hats; boots and shoes; furs; gloves; stockings, silk and wool; shirts, collars, and ties; costumes: fancy goods; bags, purses, &c. ; musical instruments; kinematographs and films; soap; furniture; perfumery; jewellery; rubber manufactures; brandy, gin, and rum; whisky; beer; wine; manufactured tobacco; cigars and cigarettes; cocoa and chocolate; confectionery; fish; fruit; meat; nuts; pickles; floor cloths and carpets; matches; pipes (smoking) ; petrol (motor spirit) ; motor cars.
I believe that the Government have withdrawn their opposition to the motion on the understanding that the return sought will cover the financial year instead of the calendar year.
– The Government take no exception to the spirit of this motion. Information in regard to the amount of duty received under the various items of the Tariff is compiled for each financial year and published by the Commonwealth Statistician, but no information is compiled for the calendar year, and it would take some weeks to obtain the information desired by Senator Earle, and would entail a great deal of work. The information in regard to the items specified by Senator Earle has been obtained for the financial year 1916-17, and can be laid upon the table of the Senate if desired. We will endeavour to get that information at the earliest possible moment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee : Consideration resumed from page 7008.
– When the sitting was suspended I was endeavouring to show how the arguments of those who are in opposition to this measure are practically answered by their own statements. Senator Foll affirmed that he is opposed to the Bill because it will unnecessarily duplicate existing machinery. In reply to his statement, I would point out that when the proposed Institute is established it will not be necessary for all the States to co-operate with each other on questions in respect of which the interests of all are not affected. In connexion with the losses caused by blowflies amongst the flocks in the northern part of Australia, for example, it would not be necessary for representatives of Tasmania to meet in conference representatives from Queensland.. But it might be well for the Tasmanian scientists simultaneously to investigate methods for dealing with this pest. Then I need hardly remind honorable senators that the Advisory Council of the Bureau of Science have noted that the losses at the present time consequent upon the tick pest amount to about £2,500,000. The same body also points out that “ further scientific investigations as to the life-history of the cattle tick in Australia, and as to the micro-organism conveyed by the tick which causes the tick fever, should be carried out.” Under this Bill it seems to me that that would be one of the first questions which scientists would investigate. Here is a parasite which causes the cattle to lose flesh and, finally, to die. Naturally, our scientists will attack the problem from the standpoint of how long the pest lives, what is its life-history, and what micro-organisms attach to it. Investigation will probably lead to the discovery of some serum by means of which cattle can be successfully inoculated against the tick.
When we recollect what has been achieved by science in other directions, I do not wonder that every one of the opponents of this Bill has prefaced his remarks by a declaration that he is not opposed to science. But, whilst professedly not opposed to science, the supporters of the amendment are certainly opposed to its operations in Australia. I admire much more the rhetoric with which they have clothed their arguments than I do the quality of those arguments.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted (Senator Bak- hap’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 15
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- The drafting of the first part of the clause seems unsatisfactory, and possibly a little careless. It reads -
There shall be a Commonwealth Institute of Science and Industry, which shall consist of three directors, and in each State an Advisory Council of Science and Industry. It shall be a body corporate. . . .
Does “it” mean that the Institute and the Advisory Council shall be a body corporate, or does it mean the Institute only? A better draftingwould be -
There shall be a Commonwealth Institute of Science and Industry, which shall consist of three directors. It shall be a body corporate. . . .
Then we could add, “ and in each State an Advisory Council of Science and Industry “.
– The Bill has received the careful consideration of our best drafting authorities, and it is dangerous tomake amendments in an attempt to express things better than they have done. I shall draw their attention to the point, and if the meaning can be better expressed without destroying the principle, I shall have the clause recommitted later.
– Why is the Institute to be incorporated, instead of being made an ordinary public Department?
.- We hope that the Institute will receive bequests or gifts from wealthy and public-spirited citizens, as has happened in other parts of the world. The clause gives the Institute a proper legal. standing for the acceptance of such gifts, which may be subject to conditions regarding scholarships, and also gives it full power to negotiate and hold property, which will be vested in it as a part of the machinery of government.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 -
– What is meant by the “wording of sub-clause 1?
. - The Governor-General means practically the Government of the day, and I take the sub-clause to be an imperative instruction to the Government, when making the appointments, to see that the directorate consists of at least two scientific men and one capable business man.
– It does not say so. Why not leave out the words “ at least “ ?
– Under sub-clause 3, what will be the length of the term of any reappointment? As it reads now, the Government may re-appoint a director during good behaviour, or during the plea- sure of the Governor-General. Apparently only the first appointment is to be for five years.
– Possibly a man may be selected who is absent on active service, and a temporary director may be required ; but from the date of appointment each director must be appointed for a clear five years. It is not necessary that the terms of the three shall be coterminous, but we hope the institution will be permanent.
– I trust the Minister will agree to strike out the words “ at least “, because as now worded the sub-clause may lead to a difficulty.
– I will accept that amendment.
– I suppose Dr. Gellatly, if appointed, will be chosen for his scientific attainments ?
– That must be left to the discretion of the Ministry.
– It is most important that one of the three directors should be a man with a practical acquaintance with the primary and secondary industrial problems of Australia, altogether apart from scientific attainments. I am not saying that Dr. Gellatly has or has not those qualifications. I merely wish to emphasize the importance of a wide and wise choice of directors. I move -
That the words “at least” in sub-clause 1 be left out.
– I have no objection. The amendment merely makes dear the intention of the Government to have a mixed directorate. The appointments have not been considered. They will be considered by Cabinet; and honorable senators may rest assured that the desire of the Government is to make the institution the greatest success possible. They will probably secure the man they believe to be the most competent business man for the purpose, and also, I trust, the two most competent scientists available with the greatest knowledge of Australian problems.
– Are the directors to be under the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commissioner, or at the mercy of whatever Government may be in office?
– The appointments are to be made by the Government of the day. I do not know that it can be said that they will be at the “mercy”’ of the G«overnment; rather, I hope they will be made at the discretion, and in the exercise of the sound judgment, of the Minister responsible.
– I am sorry the Minister accepts the amendment, because it opens one of the very doors that we want to keep closed. It would be an advantage to have three directors with scientific attainments, provided that one also haH the business qualifications which the Government desire to secure in each. Some gentleman out of employment, who deserves well at the hands of the Government for the time being, or who can pull the strings sufficiently to induce the Government to look favorably on his application, or who has sufficient outside influence to impress his merits upon the Government, altogether apart from any. qualification he may have for connexion with a scientific institute, may otherwise get the position. The Committee would be well advised to leave the clause as it stands. I regard the words “ at least “ as the greatest safeguard in the clause for the appointment of capable scientific men to run the concern from which we hope so much. I am not suggesting that the Government will do anything improper; but, occasionally, men secure important public positions, and everybody wonders how they get them. This would be just opening the door for some such appointment. The measure has been very carefully drafted, and, no doubt, those words were inserted for a very good reason. No reason has been shown, at any rate, why they should be struck out.
– I have accepted the proposed amendment because I believe in the principle. This Bill is not for the establishment of universities, or colleges, or technical schools, but to secure the trained scientist after he has finished his education. One of the prejudices against the measure, apparently, is that we are trying to secure scientists who will do nothing more than sit down in a room and dream. The object is to secure three men, one of whom, if possible, shall be a capable organizer. I hope that every scientific man in Australia who may have art idea to bring before the directors will become fully acquainted with the fact that there is an institution where he can get a hearing. Some of their proposals, of course, will be rejected on sight, while others will receive careful consideration and investigation. Correspondence, in the case of close technical work, is most unsatisfactory; but a capable organizer, of personality and strength of character, could go to the various State Governments and lay a project fully before them, thus bringing about desired harmony. It is earnestly desired to link up science with industry, and the production of the country. if the proposed directorate is merely to secure reports and place them on the shelf of a library, its work will not have been accomplished.
– Are the scientists to be expected to be efficient in all the qualities indicated by the Minister?
– Every sane and sensible business man, if he desired the services of a scientist, would prefer to engage a specialis’t in the branch in which he was interested. “We want a man who can interest business men and be able to organize the knowledge and discoveries that may have come before the directors.
– You might get such a man, and he might also be a scientist, but if you strike out the words indicated by the amendment the Government will be prevented from engaging such an individual.
– If we can get a scientist with a business personality, and who is an organizer as well, there will be nothing to prevent us from engaging his services. ‘ “i
.- Why is it considered necessary to make three appointments? The Central Bureau will exercise control over all the States, in co-operation. I fail to see why this should not be brought under the direct control of one competent man. If the
Bill becomes law as it stands, three directors will be appointed, and their terms of office will be practically for life. The Minister pointed out earlier in the debate that it is the desire of the Government to secure the services of the most competent men available. Yet three men are to be appointed, after which, if more competent men come along, those positions will be closed to them. I would rather see one man in supreme control, so far as the central administration is concerned. He should have power to secure the services of scientists, organizers, and business men, as required. Progress reported.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
– On behalf of Senator Millen, I move -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders bc suspended as would prevent the Bill from being passed through all its stages without’ delay.
It is not intended to put this measure through to-night. It is very .simple, and contains practically only one principle. I propose now to. move the first reading, and, thereafter, the second reading, leaving it to honorable senators to adjourn the debate, so that it may be carried on to-morrow if desired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– In moving
That this Bill be now read a second time,
I desire briefly to point out that this is a war measure. It is intended as one of the means .adopted by the Government for raising necessary revenue to meet the annual expenditure in which the country is involved.. It imposes an additional tax, by way of postage, on existing rates. That tax will be an additional halfpenny on newspapers, letters, letter-cards, postcards and packets. That is the simple proposition contained in thi3 measure. I think that honorable senators will agree that at a time like the present this is an equitable form of taxation to adoptThere is not the slightest doubt that our increasing expenditure necessitates additional taxation, and this is one means of raising additional revenue by taxation which was ‘ announced in the Budget of the Treasurer. The facts concerning the Bill are clear, the method of taxation proposed is one upon which honorable senators are able to form their’ own opinion, and I could not explain the measure more fully by discussing it at further length.
Debate (on motion by Senator McDougall) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 8.47 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 October 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1918/19181017_senate_7_86/>.