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Wednesday, 28 July 1920

Mr GABB (Angas) . - I realize my responsibility in regard to this Bill, and' I take this opportunity of saying that I shall oppose this and- every other clause in it, not because I do not appreciate the value of scientific research, or that I do not know that if we have not an Institute of this kind we shall be out of step with other countries, but for two definite reasons. The first is that the House has been given mo estimate of the cost of the proposed Department. According to the Age, the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) is supposed to have promised an amount of £500,000 for the fitting out of the Institute. The Minister in charge of the measure (Mr. Greene) stated last week that certain requests for money had been, made, but had been refused by the Government because the creation of the Institute had not been sanctioned by Parlia ment. I am glad that the Minister took that stand, but it is clear that once Parliament has given its sanction to this scheme, many and large requests for money will be made. My second ground for objection is the danger of overlapping. If any assurance had been given to us that there would be no overlapping, the fears of many of us would he removed. But we find to-day that there is overlapping of State and Federal activities in regard to the collection of taxation, and I am certain that if a Federal Institute of Science and Industry is established, not one of the States will surrender its Scientific Department- willingly -and with the consent of those who are employed in it. The honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) said that the statement made by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton), that the different States were already doing this work, was a good argument for the establishment of a Federal Institute. I would agree with the honorable member for Kooyong if there were any guarantee that tha whole of the work would be concentrated in the Commonwealth establishment. But the very wording of clause 10, which provides that the Director shall co-operate with tho existing State organizations " as far as possible," is an admission of doubt that co-ordination will take place. I am well aware that the Commonwealth cannot make a mandatory provision that the States shall co-operate, tut my little experience of Federal Department convinces me that the establishment of this Institute will lead to a tremendous increase in expenditure, and I desire to save myself from the risk of future reproach by opposing the measure on the grounds that we have no estimate of the cost and no assurance, other than a pious resolution, that there will be no overlapping.

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