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Wednesday, 1 August 1906

Mr WILSON (Corangamite) .- I am rather interested in the opinions which have been expressed by two honorable members who hail from the " land o' cakes." I refer to the honorable member for Echuca, who represented one side of the case, and to the honorable member for Wide Bay, who put the other side. Upon this occasion, it seems to me that the honorable member for Echuca has adopted the role which is so frequently adopted by the Treasurer, when he exclaims ' ' Oh ! what is a million?" Upon the other hand, the honorable member for Wide Bay asks the Committee to proceed with caution, and to obtain from the Minister an estimate of the probable cost of the working of a Federal Meteorological Department. I agree that, before the Bill is finally disposed of, honorable members should be given some guarantee that due regard will be paid to the economical administration of this new Department. The deputy-leader of the Opposition stated, at the outset of his remarks, that Ihe agreed with the honorable member for Echuca, but in his closing observations he conclusively showed that he was entirely in agreement with the honorable member for Wide Bay.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - What I. said was that I agreed with the honorable member for Echuca that we ought to make this new Department an efficient and useful one.

Mr WILSON - We are all agreed upon that point. In dealing with this questionwe have a right to know how we are going " to raise the wind." That is a matter of grave importance. Before we give a blank cheque for the creation of a new Department we should have some idea of what its cost will be, and how that cost is to be borne. The Minister of Home Affairs has stated that' the cost of weather telegrams will no longer be borne by the States when this Bill has become law. Then the £40.000 which has been hitherto paid bv the States will represent a loss to the Commonwealth. Of course, we are all aware that the same taxpayers will have to provide the money. The cost of this Department - irrespective of whether it is administered bv the State or the Commonwealth - must' come from the pockets of the same people.

Mr Groom - I said that the value of the weather telegrams transmitted is £40,000 per annum, but that, in accordance with a regulation which was framed under the Postal Rates Act, they are not charged for. Perhaps the honorable member will permit me to make a short explanation ?

Mr WILSON - Certainly.

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