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Wednesday, 21 July 1920


Mr GREGORY (Dampier) . - I do not offer opposition to the Bill, but am somewhat in disagreement with the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) in his desire to bring about full political control over the working of the Bureau. We cannot get rid of political control altogether. So far as finance is concerned, we must control operations; but it will be far wiser to appoint three directors than one, giving them the full power of commissioners. One of the three should be a good sound practical man with scientific attainments, while the. other two should he distinctly scientists. The tendency in this Parliament has beep to reduce rather than enhance the powers of the States., In this measure that tendency is not marked, but I cannot overlook the fact that members of this Chamber, generally, seem to have a natural leaning towards ignoring State organizations, and securing the domination of Federal control. If that should be the case with the Bureau, it cannot expect to become as valuable as it should be. As for the theory of the honorable member for Yarra that if the director, or directors, were given full power outside of the Public Service Act to make appointments to the Department, and to spend whatever amount of money was deemed necessary, the- cost would he altogether too great, it is a very good thing that those who are to be in charge should he able to make appointments. Then, if they -can see that they have made an unsuitable selection, they can get rid of the officer concerned, and endeavour to replace him with a worthy man. It would be impossible under this Bill to provide a fixed sum for the cost of the Bureau. Probably it would cost comparatively little at its initiation. It will he the duty of Parliament to watch its growth, and to see that, the Commonwealth -is getting full value for whatever money may be expended'. To say, for example, by inserting a clause in the Bill, that the Bureau should not cost more than £30,000,: would be almost tantamount to,a'n invitation to spend up to that amount per annum. We should record our objection to money having been expended on the Institute, year after year, without parliamentary authority. I have always objected to any Government spending public money without the authorization of Parliament. I hope the Government will appoint three directors instead of one. These officers must be,' to a certain extent, under the control of the Minister, and, thus, of Parliament. But I want some assurance that the Government will do all that is possible to work hand in hand with the various States in the matter of research. The Minister should have power under this - measure to appoint advisory committees in every State.


Mr Poynton - I think, without committing the Minister, that that is his intention.


Mr GREGORY - Mr. Kingsmill, a member of the Western Australian Parliament, is now in Melbourne as a member of , the Advisory Board in Western Australia, and I have been discussing the matter with him. He has informed me of the magnificent work done by the Board in Western Australia in connexion with forestry research during the past few years. They have received very great assistance from the State Government and outside individuals. The State Government expended a large sum of money in connexion with a laboratory, and hae given a grant of land worth £20,000 for this special work. Recently the Board felt that there was a possibility of utilizing local timbers for the manufacture of paper-pulp, and approached several of the principal printing houses in Perth on the subject, with the result that they subscribed a grant of £500 for research work. Surely the same kind of work can be done in the other States, and if, say, in Queensland, special investigations carried out by the State Advisory Board, under the control of the Commonwealth Director, were successful, the results would become the property of the Commonwealth instead of any individual State, and thus prove invaluable to Australian produc- tions. I 'find that there is no provision in the Bill to indicate under which Department the Act will be administered.


Mr Richard Foster - At present it is under the Customs Department.


Mr GREGORY - Yes, but very often a change of Government means a change in departmental administration, frequently with the object of more equally distributing the work among Ministers.


Mr Richard Foster - If this Institute is to justify its existence it will require .more than the fag-end of a Minister's attention.


Mr GREGORY - I think an amendment should be inserted in the Bill to insure that the Institute shall be controlled by one particular Department for some time, because then the permanent head will be able to keep in close touch with all that is being done, and so insure more efficient administration.







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