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Friday, 23 July 1920

Mr LAVELLE (Calare) .- I move the following amendment: -

That all the words after the word " now " be left out with a view to inserting in lieu thereof the words " withdrawn until information is furnished to the House as to the probability of harmonious co-operation between the Bureau proposed to be established and existing State activities, and, more particularly until proof is furnished that the measure will not lead to a great increase of the already heavy burden of taxation by unnecessary duplication of Institutions."

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - More obstruction from the back benches !

Mr LAVELLE - I consider that remark offensive, and I ask that it be withdrawn.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon J M Chanter - If the remark is considered offensive, I must ask the Minister to withdraw it.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - I withdraw the remark, but may I substitute, "More proposals for delay"?

Mr LAVELLE - I also consider that remark offensive, and ask that it be withdrawn.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - The honorable member for Calare proposes by his amendment to do what' the Minister says - delay the measure.

Mr LAVELLE - Yes, I certainly do propose to delay the thrusting of a proposal of this kind on the country and taxpayers - a Bill that will probably be very deeply resented, if passed in the absence of sufficient information. I am satisfied that the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) meant something entirely different; and it is in that light I consider his interjection offensive. I do not regard it as offensive to be accused of delaying the measure until we are given information to justify us in approving of it.

I wish to make it quite clear that I am entirely in favour of the principle of science as applied to industry, and I think that every member who has the best interests of the country at heart is also in favour of it. We have heard a good deal of -what has been described as the "myth" of the duplication, which we assert will result, of State and Federal activities. We know perfectly well that in the case of the Savings Banks there has been dissatisfaction and deplorable duplication. While in favour of the principle of science a3 applied to industry, I maintain that we have not the information at our disposal to enable us to conscientiously vote for the measure. We have heard much of the value and necessity for economy, and it has been said, and rightly, that true economy means fie elimination of waste. That is perfectly true; and I would be recreant to the trust placed in me by the electors if I were to cast my vote in favour of this Bill in the absence of necessary information. We ought to be satisfied that this Institute will, in the future, do work of a more beneficial character than has been done in the past.

I have before me a copy of a Melbourne newspaper, dated 13th March, 1920, dealing with this measure. I shall not read the whole of the comment-

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - The honorable member would not be in order in reading newspaper comments on this Bill.

Mr LAVELLE - Then I shall give the comments from memory, but I shall have to refer to the newspaper in order to insure my placing the facts accurately before the House.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - The honorable member will not be in order in doing that ; he must rely on his memory.

Mr LAVELLE - The newspaper to which I refer says -

Although the Institute for two ' years has been spending large sums of public money, it has actually no constitutional existence. A Bill to provide for its establishment was introduced into Parliament last year, but the opposition to it was so manifest that the Government did not attempt to pass the measure -

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - That is clearly dealing with the Bill, and I must ask the honorable member not to proceed ; he must rely on his memory.

Mr LAVELLE - I submit that I am dealing with the Institute that has been carried on for some time past, the Institute which this Bill proposes to make permanent; I am not dealing with the

Bin itself.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -The honorable member is reading newspaper comments on the Bill. As a matter of fact, it is not in order to read extracts from newspapers at all. The practice has been allowed to a certain extent, but it is out of order, according to our Standing Orders and the practice of the British House of Commons.

Mr LAVELLE - As a new member I hope I shall be allowed a little latitude.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - I am giving the honorable member considerable latitude.

Mr LAVELLE - I hope you will accept my assurance that I am referring, not to the Bill before the House, but to the Institute as it has been carried on for the last two years.

The newspaper article proceeds -

The funds upon which the Institute has lived have been provided by special appropriations on the Estimates that Parliament was given no opportunity to discuss. Reprehensible and unconstitutional as this course has been, it has had the one advantage of giving the public an opportunity of testing the usefulness of the Institute before Parliament committed itself to any permanent expenditure. Let the Institute be judged by its own record. In the two years of its existence what has it done? It was to have achieved wonders. Under its magic touch no local problem was to remain unsolved. But the prickly pear still grows in Queensland. The blowfly has still to be guarded against by the old methods of sheep dip. The gold mining industry has received not the slightest stimulus. Sparrows still fly west, despite the brilliant idea of stationing sentinels along the railway lines to shoot them. Australian manufacturers still work out their own problems, and if they can find a solution they patent them.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - I must ask honorable members to moderate their tone in conversation.

Mr Mahony -- The Government are arranging for the "gag."

Mr Ryan - They might as well complete their disgrace now they have started.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - I call attention to the offensive interjection by the honorable member for West Sydney, who, referring to myself and one or two others, says that we might as well complete our "disgraceful" conduct.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - If the honorable member for West Sydney made the statement attributed to him, it was a disorderly one, and I must ask him to withdraw it.

Mr Ryan - The Minister for the Navy is under a misapprehension; but as he seems to think the remark ought to apply to himself, I withdraw it.

Mr LAVELLE - I appeal to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to assist me in proceeding with my remarks.

The newspaper comment goes on -

For all the money that has been spent on the investigations by its innumerable Committees, what discovery has been made that has compensated Australia one penny piece? There has certainly been some valuable material for humour provided by the Institute, as when, for example, it found a substitute for tin plates that cost more than tin plate itself, and when it made the remarkable discovery of a new method for the treatment of alunite that was no more than 600 years old. It also nearly invented a machine for picking cotton, which would have been useful if cotton had grown in a different way to accommodate itself to the peculiarities of the machine, and it has discovered a process for baking bread rapidly, that takes only a few hours longer than the process already used by the bakers. It might have done many more wonderful things had it not been hampered------

Motion (by Mr. Greene) proposed--

That the question be now put.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Will you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, be good enough to state the position for the benefit of honorable members who have just entered the chamber? It is inconceivable that honorable members would vote for the " gag " if they knew all the circumstances of the case.I ask you, therefore, to explain the position to them.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - I have already done so.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - When there were only half-a-dozen members present.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - If honorable members are absent from the chamber that is not the fault of the Chair.

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