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Wednesday, 21 July 1920


Mr TUDOR - That is so; but there is a tendency to keep on men after the work for which they were appointed is finished. There is nothing in the Bill to say that the Institute shall cost £50,000 or £500,000 a year, and, therefore, the only opportunity for discussing its cost will be when Estimates are under consideration. But honorable membra know that, perhaps, several days may be occupied with the earlier departments of the Estimates, arid the remaining departments may be then passed almost without discussion. Of course, votes will come up on Supply Bills, but then, other things will be mentioned. Some honorable members may call attention to the fact that the South Australian Government has not paid for the Port Pirie grab, which it promised to pay for, or there may be a long debate on the administration of the Northern Territory, or concerning the trans-continental railway.


Mr Blundell - Often, everything is discussed but the Estimates themselves.


Mr TUDOR - Yes. The honorable member speaks with Ministerial experience. The Postmaster-General's Department, coming as it does at the end of the Estimates, is sometimes run through hurriedly, to enable members to get to their homes.


Mr Burchell - That does not happen only when some particular party is in power.


Mr TUDOR - No. The point I make, is that Parliament ought now to determine what shall be spent on the proposed Institute. If it does not, there will be -little opportunity to control the expenditure later. Although there has been no Act to sanction the creation of the Institute, officers have been appointed and for several years we have been voting money to pay their salaries. I am never averse to' spending money, from which a good return is likely. I have been denounced as responsible for' the establishment of the Commonwealth laboratory at Royal Park, and the bringing to Australia of Dr. Penfold, a man of eminent scientific attainments; but the cost of equipping and working that institution has been recouped over and over again by the sale of meningitis and influenza serum, to say nothing of the hundreds of thousands of pounds saved to the com munity by the distribution of influenza serum during the epidemic last year. But we are starting the Institute of Science and Industry on wrong lines. Last year I was informed that the journal which is issued by it, and of which a couple of hundreds of copies are sold at ls. each, was costing ls. 8½d. to produce. It is certainly not costing less now. Many of its articles have already appeared in other scientific publications, and are merely reprints. Here is one which is reprinted from the Veterinary Journal, without any statement of the place where that journal is published, though the name of. the" writer is given.


Mr Corser - The publication of these articles gives information to people in Australia, which they would not otherwise get.


Mr Gregory - I know nothing of the article to which the honorable member is now alluding, but the republication of some of these articles is a good thing.


Mr TUDOR - Eleven or twelve pages are devoted to the subject of rats and rat fleas. I do not think that the journal serves the purpose for which it was established. If there were co-operation with the existing State institutions, Better work would be done. As to whether there should be three directors or one, possibly as good work could be got by having 'ohe man at the head of affairs as by having three; but he must be a practical, not merely a theoretical man. I objected to the appointment of the late Dr. Gellatly, who was a journalist, on that ground. Following the article on rats, come two pages on sharks, which, we are told, are good for food.


Mr Watkins - The Chinese have already told us that.


Mr Richard Foster - It is possible that you have eaten shark without knowing it.


Mr TUDOR - Yes, because at restaurants, one eats many things without knowing what they are. It is for that reason that I prefer to have my meals at home. Not only have honorable members been sent a copy of the May issue of the Journal, giving an account of the work of the temporary Institute, but they have also received a separate account of its work. Most of the investigations that have been carried out up to the present time have been into matters already dealt with by the State Departments, and many of the articles which have been published in the Journal have appeared in other publications.


Mr Blundell - In the Commonwealth ?


Mr TUDOR - Yes ; in the Agricultural Journals of the States. Any person interested in the problems that have been dealt with in the Journal could easily get elsewhere the information that it has contained.


Mr Richard Foster - There should be co-ordination, so that there might be an Australian scientific magazine, which would take the place of the separate State magazines.


Mr TUDOR - Does the honorable member think that the State Departments will permit us to do the whole of the work? I think with him that there should be some co-ordination.


Mr Richard Foster - If I thought it could not be obtained, I would not support this proposal.


Mr TUDOR - Experience has shown that the States are very reluctant to hand over to the Commonwealth any of their functions. It was my privilege to be a member of a deputation that waited on a member of the Victorian Ministry the other day on the question of venereal disease. When I was speaking he suggested that it would be a good thing for the Commonwealth to take on the work, and I told him that the Commonwealth had already voted money to help to eradicate the disease, in view of its danger to the community. In spite of what the Commonwealth has done, no State Government will give up the work. When we took over lighthouses and quarantine, which were spending Departments pure and simple, the States raised objections. It has to be set down in the Constitution before they will agree to our taking control. I guarantee that if we propose to undertake anything outside the Constitution the States will not give it up. The men who fight any such proposal most bitterly are some of the State officials in the Departments concerned.


Mr Richard Foster - You have just struck the sore point.


Mr TUDOR - I know the position. Any honorable member who has been here for any length of time realizes that the men who will block the Commonwealth from extending its activities are men holding positions in the State services, and doing the work which we propose to take over, such as that outlined in this Bill.


Mr Richard Foster - And the Federal Departments very often are equally guilty.


Mr TUDOR - That is quite possible; but, after all, if there is any force in the honorable member's suggestion that we should co-ordinate the work with the States, we must remember that we cannot do it by setting up another expensive Department where six exist at the present time, or where we are not going to do a scrap of new work. That is why I object to this scheme. The Minister has not given sufficient information as to how the States will co-operate with us in this particular matter. I believe the Bill will cause unnecessary expense by duplicating the work thatis now being done.

Paragraph c of clause 9 gives power for " the making of grants in aid of pure scientific research." I believe that is a thing we should do, but we can do it equally well by other means. When I was a Minister, a man came to me and showed me how much lanoline was being wasted every year in the wool, and how it could be utilized. We could have a little experimental plant at each of our Commonwealth laboratories, of which there is one in every State, to do that sort of work. If one. manufacturer wants the work done for himself he should pay the whole cost of the experiment, but if the whole of the manufacturers, or the whole of the public, are to reap, the advantage of the services of our technically-trained men, whose salaries we are paying all the time, then all the manufacturers or all the public should meet the cost. That would be a far better way to do this than setting up an expensive Institute such as is being proposed. There is no limit -to the amount that may be granted under paragraph c of clause 9. The Institute, if it is under no direct political control, as some desire, can spend any amount of money.


Mr Richard Foster - It must be financially under control.


Mr TUDOR - It must be directly under the control of a Minister. If we have to find the money, and are responsible to the people, we have no right to give those running the Institute absolute control, or to allow them to spend as much as they like on any proposal, but that is what will happen unless we impose a limit on certain of these clauses. It is our duty to put a limit to the power to make grants in aid of pure scientific research.


Mr Gregory - It is all subject to regulations and to the Minister.


Mr TUDOR - We have had too much lately of regulations which have gone absolutely contrary to the spirit of the Act, or to the intention of the Parliament which passed the Act.

Clause 12 provides that the employees shall not be subject to the Public Service Act, but shall be engaged for such periods and subject to such conditions as are prescribed. That means that those in control can employ any and as many persons as they like, and keep them on as long as they like. If there is any evil in connexion with public Departments, it is the existence of " temporarypermanent " men.- They are under the control of no one, and frequently, in order to keep sweet and make themselves good fellows, they do things they ought not to be called upon to do. What has been the trouble iri this building? Have not you, Mr. Speaker, been asked frequently whether the employees of Parliament are being treated properly? These complaints occur simply because those employees are outside the purview of the Public Service Act. We come in contact with the men; we know them well, and they do little services for every member. Directly you take men outside the Public Service Act, you establish conditions far worse than anything which occurs under the -Act; I know the difficulty of getting rid of a man once he is in the Public Service. He' is there practically for life. That might not be desirable in the case of the new Institute, but we should have some system- of control over its employees, independent of whoever happens to be the head of it for the time being. Under sub-clause 1 of clause 12 the Director may appoint as many officers as he thinks necessary;


Mr Groom - The Governor-General.


Mr TUDOR - That means the Government. They are responsible.


Mr Groom - The Minister makes the recommendation.


Mr TUDOR - But it is the Ministry, and not the Governor-General, that takes the responsibility. I have always been averse to sheltering the Ministry behind the term " Governor-General." The Governor-General or the State Governor simply presides at the Executive Council meeting. There is no discussion, and things go right through.


Mr Groom - But the Executive Council means more than one Minister.


Mr TUDOR - There must -be three present.


Mr Groom - It establishes the principle of having, more than one person responsible for an appointment.


Mr TUDOR - How many outside the Minister concerned actually know onehundredth part of what' is going' through ? It takes Ministers all their time to control their own Departments, without having any to spare to fool round to find out what is going on in others. The Minister is quite convinced by the advice of the head of -his Department that a proposal is absolutely necessary, and of ' course it will go through unless 'there is financial stringency such as exists now. In that case the -Institute may - not be extended very far, but in times of plenty it may grow and be found very expensive when lean times come again.

By clause 1-4 power is given to the Director to pay to successful discoverers or inventors working as officers of the Institute, or under the auspices of the Institute, such bonuses as the Governor-General determines. It is quite right that an energetic officer who makes a valuable discovery should be fairly rewarded, but when that reward is paid the discovery should become' the property of the- Commonwealth Government. Some of the bounties which we have passed to assist industries have proved inadequate. Others have turned out fairly successful. Perhaps the most successful have been the iron and steel and wool tops bounties. We agreed to a bounty for the discovery of a phosphatic rock to turn into marketable artificial manure: Some of the bounties would not tempt people to take up a new industry. A bounty was' offered for flax, but very little flax was' produced. I think more is being grown to-day on account of the high price. In fact, war conditions have brought' about far more discoveries and new products in Australiathan anything else. Some of the discoveries have been made by scientific men, and some by workmen engaged in the industries. The theorist has gone around and used the brains of the employees. In many cases the men engaged in the industries have given the information to smarter men, who have reaped the advantage.


Mr Richard Foster - The Broken Hill people for the last twenty years have rewarded every man who has found them something new.


Mr TUDOR - That is a good idea; the companies ought to pay.

If an Institute like this is to be a success there must be complete harmony between the men at the head and the employees. It is all in embryo at the present time, and we do not know whether 10 or 100 or 1,000 men will be employed.


Mr Blundell - It will not remain at ten very long.


Mr TUDOR - The honorable member speaks out of a full knowledge of the ways of Departments. I do not think the Institute will be very prolific in advantages to the Commonwealth, to judge by the work done so far. The Bureau has been in existence now for some time - perhaps four and a half years, as Professor Masson says - although the Bill has never been passed. Every year an amount has appeared on the Estimates for the purpose, rising to, I think, £30,000 in the last Estimates, of which nearly every penny was spent.


Mr Groom - The vote last year was £14,000, of which £13,000 was spent.


Mr TUDOR - We- are. told that a lot of the work is honorary; but very often that sort of service costs a great deal more than skilled professional work.


Mr Gregory - A good deal has been spent in travelling expenses.


Mr TUDOR - Where has been the need of travelling expenses in connexion with an . Institute that has never been formed ?


Mr Groom - There has been a number of investigating committees doing advisory work.


Mr TUDOR - I should like to know where they have done it. What I am most concerned about is the type of man who is to be chosen as Director.- . He should be a practical man, and not a theorist, if the people are to obtain the advantage which the Bill is designed to give them. If we do not see to that, we shall be throwing the money away. It would be better to postpone consideration of the Bill unless we can obtain a definite statement from the Government as to the type of man they intend to appoint as Director. I am sorry that, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene), who is responsible for the Bill, has not been in the best of health. lately, but we should hear before we embark on the spending of this money a definite statement on that point. After all, this is not a party measure. If the passage of this Bill can be postponed for a few years until some concrete scheme is laid before Parliament, by which time the Government may have decided upon the right type of man to place at the head of the Bureau, the best course will have been followed.







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