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Wednesday, 28 July 1920

Mr JOWETT (Grampians) .- I move -

That after the word "Director," in subclause (1), the words "and also of six local councils, each council to be representative of each State," be inserted.

The object of the amendment is to insure that the Institute, when founded, shall obtain the hearty sympathy and cooperation of the best scientific minds and of the leaders of industry in its various forms throughout Australia, and to insure also that the State Governments shall co-operate with the Commonwealth Government to insure its success. Without this co-operation and enchaining of sympathy, the Institute, if it does not become an absolute failure, will, 1 fear, fall very short of the desires of Parliament and of the requirements of the people. The issue raised by the amendment is fundamental. Should the clause be carried as it stands, and the amendment circulated by the Minister for the insertion of clause 4a be inserted, the Director, subject, of course, to the Minister, would be the sole repository of power and authority, and he would-be chosen, not by representatives of the best scientific and industrial minds of Australia, but by the Commonwealth Government. I cast no reflection on the judgment of this Government or of the Minister, or on their capacity for choosing a Director, nor have I anything to say in disparagement of the qualifications of any. gentleman who may be in the minds of Ministers or of honorable members as suitable for the position.

Dr EARLE PAGE (COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Would the councillors be paid ?

Mr JOWETT - That is a comparatively minor matter, which need not be discussed at the present moment.

Dr EARLE PAGE (COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Would they be Government servants ?

Mr JOWETT - Not unless they happened to be Government officials when chosen to act as councillors. In many cases, no doubt, they would be State officials; but they would be persons chosen or nominated for the position, and would be thoroughly representative of the best scientific and industrial thought of the States.

Mr Bowden - Do you propose to make the councils part of the body corporate that it is proposed to establish ?

Mr JOWETT - Yes; they would be an essential part of the Institute.

Mr Marks - The honorable member's proposal would really take the place of clause 4b, which the Minister intends to move, but would be compulsory, while the Minister's is optional.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - These local councils would be in addition to the Institute, and could not perform the work that it is desired to have done.

Mr JOWETT - If the Minister will permit me to unfold my views on the subject, he will, I think, recognise that that is not so. I have used the words " local councils " instead of " State councils " to indicate that the councils will not be representative merely of the State Governments. What the Committee has to consider is whether it will adopt a course which will enlist the sympathy and support of the best scientific and industrial minds of each State, and so of the whole of Australia, or one which will, to some extent, discourage that sympathy and support. If a dictator be appointed under the name of director, who at his own sweet will and caprice may make appointments to the Advisory Council, or refrain from doing so, that is likely to discourage sympathy and support. During the war I had considerable experience of the workings of bodies constituted in various fashions, and I say unhesitatingly that a government-ap- " pointed dictator who could ignore or recognise the scientific opinion of Australia just as he thought fit would, to some extent, diminish the usefulness of the Institute. My proposal is to establish local councils representative of the best scientific opinion. The election or nomination of the Director should be made by delegates from the six local councils.

Mr Bowden - Would not the tendency of the councils be to oppose the work of the Institute?

Mr JOWETT - No ; quite the opposite. My scheme makes full provision for the various State Departments to be represented on the local councils, and each local council will choose its best men to be its delegates to the Central Council. If the Minister wishes to obtain the warm-hearted and cordial support of the best minds in Australia from the very beginning, he will not do it by depriving them of all sense of responsibility.

Sir Robert Best - Would the members of the councils be paid ?

Mr JOWETT - That is a matter of detail.

Sir Robert Best - No, it is important.

Mr JOWETT - If the honorable member thinks it important, I shall answer his question. In all probability, the members of the local councils will be connected with some university, or a Government Department, or with some Chamber of Mines, Chamber of Pastoralists, or Chamber of Manufactures, and will probably be already in receipt of a considerable income. It will not be necessary, therefore, to pay them high salaries in connexion with their duties on these local councils. Possibly they could be remunerated as the members of the Advisory Council have been, with a fee for each sitting, and something to recoup them for out-of-pocket expenses. However, if men of such distinguished ability are given some measure of power and responsibility, I am sure they will be quite agreeable to do the work without pay. In any case, they will be quite satisfied with a guinea or two guineas for each sitting.

Mr Ryan - Does the honorable member suggest that the appointments shall be made by the States?

Mr JOWETT - That is a matter to which I have given the fullest consideration, and which I shall deal with later on. My amendment to this clause' merely deals with the suggestion. I have other consequential amendments. We have not to interest these gentlemen in science; they will do all they possibly can to increase the cause of science and industry in Australia, but if we are desirous of getting the best out of them, we must handle them diplomatically. A man will not get the best out of his agent or representative by ignoring him every day.

Sir Robert Best - How many members will comprise the- proposed Council?

Mr JOWETT - There would be a local council for each State, that is, six in all, and there may be any number on each local council.

Sir Robert Best - The proposal is utterly impracticable. The Institute is to be a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal.

Mr Ryan - That is to say, mutatis mutandis.

Mr JOWETT - Given ample notice, and my own time, I dare say I could carry on a conversation with the honorable member for West Sydney in the language he has used, but on the floor of this House, and within the limits of debate, it is impossible for me to do so.

Mr Ryan - I was merely agreeing with the point raised by the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best).

Mr JOWETT - If my amendment be inconsistent with the language of the Bill, the measure can be altered to make it consistent. The honorable member for Kooyong proclaims himself as the most impracticable man in the world if he makes the suggestion that there ia any- thing impracticable in the proposition to have six local councils.

Mr Tudor - It is fair to say that previous Government Bills contained provision for the appointment of State Advisory Councils.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - Yes; but they did not propose to make the- State Advisory Councils part of the Institute. In that respect, the honorable member's proposal is entirely novel.

Mr JOWETT - It may be novel. I am not prepared to follow slavishly word for word any proposal previously made: There are people in Australia who are quite as capable of constructing schemes that will work as there are in any other part of the world. I claim that my proposal is a better conception than that which was set forth in previous Bills; at any rate, it would be more workable, and more likely to achieve the result desired by the Minister and honorable members generally. The experience of the working of the Institute during the last few years has proved conclusively that the best scientific and industrial men of Australia have not been satisfied to remain mere dummies under a political Department. In fact, they have made their protests in the most effective way, almost all of them, by resigning.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - Not most of them.

Mr JOWETT - A considerable number of them have resigned.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - Out of the lot, there were only three effective resignations.

Mr JOWETT - I know that some resignations were reconsidered.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - Less than half of them resigned in the first place.

Mr JOWETT - Perhaps not as a body, but from time to time a considerable number of very important members have resigned as a protest against being practically dummies under a political head.

Mr Fenton - The brains of the Council have thrown the scheme overboard.

Mr JOWETT - I am not prepared to cast reflections on those who have not resigned, but very important and highly distinguished members of the Council did resign, because they were not prepared to be dummies under a political head. If this Committee decides to obliterate all representation of the best scientific thought on the Institute, it will be establishing a bureaucracy and a dictatorship which, by some happy chance, may prove effective, but which, in all probability, is not so likely to be so.

Mr Bowden - How can the Institute operate if there are to be six councils with all of their members scattered over the length and breadth of Australia?

Mr JOWETT - If there be one thing above all others required in connexion with the Institute it is that it shall not be centralized either in Melbourne or Canberra or anywhere else. Its members should be drawn from all over Australia. Their field of operations, in fact, should cover the whole of the States.

Mr Bowden - But what would happen when it became necessary to call the members of the Institute together in order to sign a contract, for example? Would all these various people require to travel from all over Australia to the central office?

Mr JOWETT - Certainly not. If the Director is to be given power to do and authorize certain things, as set forth in the Bill, may he not sign contracts? And if, under the Bill, he is to have such power, then, with my amendment embodied, he would still retain that power. If you desire that the Institute shall be a success, there must be some form of representation of the State Departments which to-day are carrying on somewhat similar investigations and experiments as the Institute will undertake; and, as far as possible, there should be on the Institute effective representation of each State. There is no effective representation proposed in the Bill. If a Director is to be appointed without the Government asking the advice or counsel of any one else, either individually or as a body, then .po'wer will be given to that Director to create his own advisory council. The members of these various State councils, when appointed, will be asked to render enthusiastic service and assistance; but they are to be given no share in the responsibility for the Institute, or in the initial important task of appointing its Director. They will find themselves at the sweet will of a dictator appointed by the Government. That is not the way to insure the interest and co-operation of Australian scientists. Local councils should be appointed, fmd these should have some say in the selection of. a Director, seeing that that person will be their guide and chief. There is in every State of Australia to-day a university, each, I understand, well equipped and possessing men of scientific knowledge and attainments.

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