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Wednesday, 28 July 1920

Mr TUDOR (Yarra) .- I stated on the motion for the second reading that the success of this Institute would depend largely, if nob entirely, upon the type of man appointed as Director - whether he was a practical or theoretical man - and I advocated the extension of the existing laboratory rather than the setting up of an entirely new Institute. In the Government Service are two sorts of Departments - the collecting Departments, such as taxation and Customs, which are always very careful as to how money is spent, and other Departments, like Defence, Home and Territories, and the Navy, which justify their existence by tho amount of money they expend.' This Institute will come within the latter category. I quoted last week the letter of resignation of the chairman of the existing Bureau, Professor Orme Masson; I have not yet heard whether his resignation has been accepted or withdrawn. There is a very great obstacle to separating the Institute from .political control, as Professor Masson advocates. There must be parliamentary control of this or any other Institute, so that there may be a check on its expenditure. Furthermore, there must be co-ordination with the activities of the States. It is within the recollection of honorable members that a conference of

State Ministers of Health and their officers with the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) was held in Melbourne in order to evolve a definite plan of action in connexion with the influenza epidemic; but as soon as the State Ministers returned to their own States they repudiated the agreement with the Commonwealth. We may pass pious resolutions and express in the Bill fervent hopes for co-ordination, but we shall never achieve it unless we are in the controlling position. Even then there must be a doubt as to whether the States would hand over to the Commonwealth the work they are now doing. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley), in, the course of an excellent speech on the second reading, pointed out the desirability of the proposed Institute dealing with the problem of venereal disease.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - I think that matter comes under the control of the Health Departments.

Mr TUDOR - Yes, and each State Health Department will say that it has complete authority to deal with the problem.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - I think there is some coordination in regard to that matter.

Mr TUDOR - Yes. A Cabinet of which I was a member placed on the Estimates a sum of £15,000 or £20,000 to be allocated amongst the States for expenditure on the eradication or limitation of venereal disease. To what extent such activities would come under the control of the Institute I do not know. There is room for an establishment such as is proposed, but unless we place in control of it a practical man, not a theorist-

Dr EARLE PAGE (COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES) - He should be both.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - He must have the theoretical knowledge and the practical experience.

Mr Fenton - Is it not possible to get such a man without establishing an institute of this kind t

Mr TUDOR - The honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) mentioned the name of Mr. Percy Wilkinson, a man who has done excellent work for the Commonwealth during the last ten or twelve years, and who, if given the opportunity, could make a success of the Institute. At . the back of the Customs House in Melbourne the Commonwealth has the most up-to-date laboratory in Australia, and it is available at the present time for doing Commonwealth work. Honorable members who have not visited the establishment should do so. If any manufacturers' desire that technical work should be carried out for them at the laboratory, they should pay for it. If the technical knowledge of our skilled officers, trained in our own. Service, is placed at the disposal of manufacturers and others for their private profit, it should be paid for ; and the fact that such knowledge is available should be made known throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. When I was Minister for Trade and Customs, a gentleman came into my office one day with what appeared to be a 2-lb. jam tin, and asked that its contents might be analyzed. I pointed out to him that there were numbers of private analysts, but he said that there was only one man able to analyze this particular product, and that that man was in the service of the Commonwealth. He informed me that the tin contained ambergris, which had been collected on one of the Tasmanian islands, and that if it were as valuable as he thought it to be, it was worth about £11,000. I push the claims of no one person, but I do desire the claims of all to be considered, particularly those of our own servants. There are Commonwealth laboratories in every State, and these could be enlarged and their usefulness extended. I am very much afraid that if we create a completely new organization we shall have a Department that can only justify its existence by the amount of money it expends ; and this would be a most undesirable result.

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