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Wednesday, 21 July 1920

Mr CORSER (Wide Bay) .- I have listened with great interest to the remarks of the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton). He has asked us to bear in mind that we shall take upon ourselves a great responsibility if we vote for this Bill. I hope that the honorable member will realize the responsibility which must fall upon the shoulders of those who vote against the measure, should they be successful in wrecking it. I am very glad that the Government have determined to proceed with the measure. Other countries of the world are far beyond us in the support given to scientific research. In Great Britain over £1,000,000 per annum is being expended on a Department of Science, Industry, and Research. In France £250,000 a year is expended in this way. In the United States of America and Canada millions are expended in this direction. In Japan the expenditure upon scientific research amounts to £500,000 a year, and in Italy to £250,000 a year. In New Zealand; South Africa, Sweden, Belgium, and other countries institutions to promote scientific research are established.

Mr Fenton - There is only one Go-: vernment in the countries mentioned.

Mr CORSER - There are very few countries in the' world which offer a wider field for the investigations of a Bureau of this kind than does Australia. We are some 12,000 miles from the principal centres of the world, and we require such an institution as is provided for under this Bill to keep us in touch with the results of scientific research in other parts of the world. This great continent is capable of sustaining a larger population than is the United States of America. The area of Australia is greater 'than the' area of the United States of America, and its unde- veloped": resources ..are equal, if not superior, to those of America. It is probably more toour' interest than to the interest "of any other people in" the world that we should be brought . into touch as rapidly as possible with the latest developments of science. Of whatuseis it to establish industries on wrong premises ? We should be up to date inall 'these matters. If we can be made so by the expenditure of a few, tens of thousands of pounds, the moneywill be, well expended.

We . have been told that by this Bill we shallbe duplicating our institutions for scientific research ; but similar institutions in- every State are- co-operating With the Commonwealth in this, regard, and are, in favour of the. establishment of the , proposed Federal Bureau.

Mr Ryan -Is it true, as we read inv the? Age, that 'scientists' have 'discovered a new method of baking bread which is six hours slower than the old method?

Mr CORSER - I have not had much experience of baking, and perhaps the honorable member is in a better position toanswer his question . himself.. It is especially necessary in this, country that weshould establish new industries, and Should safeguard those we have established.

One' of the principal obstacles . to settlement in manyparts of- Queensland is the rapid spreadof the pricklypear. We have in that State 419,000,000' acres of land,ofwhichquite:400,000,000 acres are still unalienated!- Upon.. the best 'information we can obtain, it is estimated that at least 1,000,000 acres of land in "Queensland-" is being - infested with the prickly pear everyyear. Many attempts have destroy the pest, but, so far,theonly . really successful means of dealing with. -it is by close settlement. -With so sparse a population covering such an enormous area, it is unfortunately not possible to do very much in that way. Before the war a company formed, I think, in Melbourne entered into an arrangement with the Queensland Government by which they were to be given 100,000 acres of land, provided they cleared it of prickly pear, and kept it clear of the pest. The means this company proposed for the destruction of ' the prickly pear was the application of a gas. Two expert -chemists fromGermany were employed by the company, andtheir operations at Dulaccawere eminently successful.- : As soon as the war was spoken. of, -these two experts cleared out of Australia. The company tried to carry on ' the destruction of the pear by the application of a gas which they mistakenly assumed was similar to that manufactured by the German scientific experts; but they largely failed in the experiments they made. As the' experts at first employed were successful, it should be possible to discover the exact nature, of the gas they applied, and such a discovery would alone be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds . to Australia. '

Before long the Commonwealth, and more especially Queensland, will have to undertake the . establishment of the cottongrowing industry. I can go back to the time of the Civil War in the United' States of America; when it '.was -found necessary that some attempt should' be made to growcotton in this country. Cotton was grown here successfully" at the. time. . I know of many, plantations in' Queensland upon which it was profitably grown; but when the American Civil War had. terminated those engaged, in. growing cotton in Queensland couldnot continue in competition with the coloured labour in the industry in theUnited States of America. To-day the price of cotton has gone up to such an extent and the cost of its production elsewhere' so nearly equals the costof its production by white labour in Australia, that I believe there is a great future for; the cotton -growing- industry? in Queensland. Manypeople are growing cotton there now: To give' honorable member's some . idea of the extent . to which cotton was grown in that State fifty , years ago, I recently took up a Brisbane Courier, of the 2nd July, in which it was stated that fifty years ago a large sailing vessel, named the Maryborough, left Queensland for London half , full of cotton, the balance of her cargo being tallow. Many people are now going in for the cotton-growing industry, and it has been proved up to the hilt that it can be grown there profitably. One of the problems to be solved in connexion with the industry is the discovery of an effective machine for picking cotton. Some means must be discovered which will save labour in the picking of the cotton. The requisite machinery for the purpose has been developed up to a certain stage, and it is hoped that before Long an effective machine will be available.

The best method ,of dealing with the tick pest is a matter which must be the subject of scientific research. Unless science is brought to bear upon the solu-tion of this problem very grievous errors may be committed. I have heard cattle growers, and amongst them very capable men, advocating as a means of dealing with the tick pest that certain areas of country should, be completely cleared of ticks. l,have heard others, equally capable, say that that is the worst thing that could possibly be done.- They urge the continuance of dipping, which is the present means adopted to keep down the pest, because they say that only cattle reared in tick-infested country become gradually immune to tick fever, and continue to be immune while the country has a few ticks, and that it would only lead to the spread of the disease if portions of the country were absolutely cleared of ticks in close proximity to tick-infested country. This is a question which should he taken up and finalized by a Bureau of the kind to be established under this Bill.

Another pest with which we have to contend is the fruit fly. So far we have riot been very successful in dealing with it, and as we are starting a large number of returned soldiers on orchards in Queensland it is to be hoped that nothing will be left undone to effectively deal with this pest in the interests of these returned men.

I have dealt with the necessity for coping with the advance of the prickly pear, and it might be as well to mention that no less than 23,000,000 acres of good land in Queensland is infested with this pest, and the Government of the State are only too pleased to part with the land for next to nothing to persons who will undertake to eradicate the pear upon it.

I have already said', in reply to objections by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) that State institutions of this kind desire that this Bill shall be passed, and are ready to co-operate with the Federal Bureau. I know that the Australian Industrialists Association of Queensland have written very strongly in favour of the establishment of a Federal Bureau, and urging the' passage of this measure. Their only objection to it would appear to be that sufficient provision is not made for consultation with scientists in the different States, but that is a difficulty which might be easily overcome.

Mr Groom - The Minister is willing to constitute Advisory Committees in the different States.

Mr CORSER - That will meet the only objection raised to this Bill by the association to which I have referred.

I suppose that there is no country in the world which possesses a greater variety of minerals than is to be found in Australia, We know very little about some of these minerals, or how to treat them, and we require to have information as to the way in which they are treated in other parts of the world. We can look to a Bureau of this kind to secure that information for us.

Mr Fenton - Have we not led the world in some things, and can we not do so again ?

Mr CORSER - We have led the world in some ways, and the world may lead us in other ways. Each should profit by the experience of the other. Mercantile men who believe that it is possible to gain further information of advantage to their concerns do not sit down and say, " We are satisfied with the things of to-day," but despatch men of ability to other parts- of the world to acquire it. It is this which leads to their success, and the methods they apply ought also to be applied to the industries which, when the Tariff is passed, we hope to have firmly established in Australia. These concerns will require the most up-to-date machinery, and the assistance which an Institute of Science and Industry oan provide for them will most certainly be welcomed by them. We are told that the States are co-operating in every way with the Federal Institute, and that they are most anxious to see the latter placed upon a firm and up-to-date ' basis. I have no word to say in detriment of what the States are doing in this direction, -but I claim that it is the duty of the Commonwealth to furnish the money for a central Institute which will keep in full touch with the State Bureaux and supplement their work. Now that the Bill is before the House, T hope that honorable members will realize the necessity for it and feel the responsibility that is cast upon them.

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