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Wednesday, 1 August 1906
Page: 2149

Mr LONSDALE (New England) . - I agree with the honorable member for North Sydney that it would tend to economical administration if the Commonwealth took over the astronomical, as well as the meteorological, work now being performed by the States. The two brandies of observation are very similar in character, and should be made to harmonize as much as possible. Under present conditions, there is a great deal of duplication of work in the States Observatories, which, if they were placed under separate control, could be avoided. Of course, we understand that if the operations of the Meteorological Department are extended, the expenditure will be increased, but our object should be to obtain the maximum result at a minimum of cost. And if meteorological matters are dealt with by the Commonwealth and astronomical matters are left to the States, the total expenditure upon . these Departments will be largely increased. I have not vet been able to read the report of the conference of astronomers which met in Adelaide in 1905, and consequently I am not familiar with the reasons which prompted Mr. Baracchi to oppose the transfer to the Commonwealth of., the control of the Astronomical Departments of the States. Before we vote upon this Bill I think that those reasons should be clearlyplaced before honorable members. The fact that the office of Government Astronomer in two of the States is vacant to-day shows that if we assumed control of that Department we should be afforded an opportunity of making some reduction in the expenditure upon our existing observatories. That could be done easily enough, unless it is absolutely necessary that in all the observatories throughout the States high-class officers should be appointed. I have an idea that that is not necessary, and consequently I think that a material saving might be effected.

Mr Groom - The States may effect a saving now.

Mr LONSDALE - I admit that. But the States are separate entities, and they are not likely to rel v upon the Victorian

Astronomer. If we allow the astronomical work to remain with the States there is no doubt that they will continue the maintenance of their present establishments. Seeing that we have power to control that Department, I think that we ought to exercise it. A good. deal of the work that is done in each of the States is, I presume, supervised by the Government Astronomer. There would lie no necessity for that state of affairs to continue if we assumed control of both of these Departments. I hope that the Minister will afford . honorable members an opportunity of voting upon the question of whether we should not take over both the Astronomical and Meteorological Departments of the States. My own view is that, by so doing, we should effect a substantial saving, and at the same time secure a more effective system than we obtain at present..

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