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Wednesday, 1 August 1906


Mr GROOM (Darling Downs) (Minister of Home Affairs) . - As the honorable member for North Sydney has said, this matter was discussed very fully during the progress of the second-reading debate upon the Bill. I listened very attentively - and with an open mind - to the arguments advanced in favour of taking over the Astronomical Departments of the States, but I am still strongly of opinion that the two services should be 'kept absolutely distinct. I can see no reason why, at this stage, the Commonwealth should take over the State Astronomical Departments, either upon the ground of economy or of efficiency. The astronomers of the States themselves declare that, even if the Departments were taken over, one central institution would not be sufficient. It would still be necessary to have highly-paid officials to continue the scientific work which they are performing. What the people of Australia ask is that we shall pass some practical legislation which will prove of advantage to the producers and others who are concerned in weather forecasts. I have already pointed out that in nearly every country in the world the two services are kept absolutely distinct. There will be quite sufficient to occupy the attention of the officers who will be engaged in our Meteorological Department. If any State officers can foe spared we shall be very glad to utilize their services with a view to effecting economy. But the proposal to take over the Astronomical Departments of the States is opposed by Professor Lyle, Mr. Baracchi, and Mr.' Kernot. They declare that these institutions are essentially State institutions, and that they are engaged in scientific research of an advanced kind. I believe that it would be a splendid thing for the study of astronomy in Australia if the States, would only consent to hand over these institutions to our universities. I feel that the step which the Government are taking is the right one. In other countries the two Departments are kept entirely separate. In the United States, it is recognised that the science of meteorology is quite distinct from that of astronomy. That being so, I ask the House to support the Government in their action.







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