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Wednesday, 28 July 1920

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) . - I do not propose to touch upon the points so ably dealt with by the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) in regard to the impracticability of the scheme suggested by the honorable member '"or Grampians (Mr. Jowett). The honorable member has not sufficiently appreciated what would be the effect of incorporating in the body corporate with perpetual succession various bodies scattered all over Australia and comprising an indefinite number of men.

Mr Jowett - The Bill which the Government introduced into the Senate made that proposal.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - That Bill proposed to constitute an Institute from three directions, and then there were to be certain Advisory Councils in addition, but they were not to be part of the body corporate, which constituted the legal entity of the Institute.

Mr Ryan - That is what the honorable member for Grampians says was the defect of that Bill.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - Exactly. The honorable member for Grampians admitted that this proposal to include the six Advisory Councils in the body corporate of the Institute itself was entirely novel.

Mr Jowett - I was told so, and believed so until a few moments ago when I read the earlier Bill which the Government introduced into the Senate.

Mr Considine - We might as well have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - What I and the honorable member desire is to secure the cooperation of scientific men, both theoretical and practical, in carrying out the work which the Institute will have to perform. The whole question is how best to secure that co-operation without overloading the Institute with expenditure, and how to direct its energies into the channels in which they are most required'. The experience of the Advisory Council to date has been this : Perhaps an engineering question was before the Council; it was a small body, and there was no engineering scientist on it. Or, the question may have been one of agricultural science, and there wa3 no member of the Council particularly qualified to deal with it. The Council found that in1 dealing with specific problems it was necessary to call in: those special scientists whose particular province it was to study that matter. The men who have been doing the real investigatory work of the Institute in many instances have not been the members of the Council. I do not care how representative the Council is made, -science is so highly specialized that it is impossible to place on the Council all the men who may be required to deal with the scientific problems that will arise. I have given notice of an addition to clause 4 which will be moved as a new clause, and which will incorporate in the measure what was the definite intention of the Government as to the way in which the Institute should operate. The Institute will comprise a Bureau of Agriculture, a Bureau of Industry, and such other bureaux as the Governor-General determines from time to time. One of those other bureaux might be one to deal with forestry. Of course, it will be necessary to appoint a definite head to the Bureau of Agriculture and, similarly, to the Bureau of Industry. Then we shall provide that tha Governor-General may appoint Advisory Boards to advise the Director in regard to the general business of the Institute. That, I take it, will mean a gathering of scientists drawn from many branches of science, and convened' from time to time to consult with the Director as to the general scope of the work to be undertaken. Also, power is to be taken for the appointment of a Council in) regard to any Bureau thereof.

In connexion with- the Bureau of Agriculture, for instance, the Director carrying out the functions of the Institute, in cooperation with the States, would naturally call together om the Board, first and foremost, the scientists associated with the State Agricultural Departments. It does not necessarily mean that the Advisory Board will be confined to such heads of State Departments. There might be other eligible men occupying chairs of agriculture at the universities, or experts in veterinary science, who might be called im to form the nucleus of an Advisory Council. In that way we shall secure all the men required to constitute a scientific body capable of dealing with particular questions. What is the use of having an advisory council composed of engineers to deal with the question of agriculture? The scheme of the Government is to secure, by the appointment of advisory councils, the assistance and co operation of the scientific men of Australia for dealing with the specific problems that the Institute will have to consider from time to time. I believe that that will not only secure the effective working of the Institute itself, but will prevent the tendency, which has been noticed up to the present, of distributing the energies of the Institute over a great number of subjects, some of which are, perhaps, more urgent than others.

Mr Gabb - I again have to draw attention to the state of the House. - [Quorum formed.']

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - What we are proposing will do exactly what the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) desires. It will be the means of securing the co-operation of our scientific men, and it will do so in a way which will enable them to concentrate on the particular scientific problems with which they are intimate. It will not call together a body of scientists who may not be conversant with the branches with which their fellow-members are familiar; but it will bring together, in cooperation with the Government on each specific problem as it arises, the best men it is possible to obtain. I have discussed the Government's proposals with those interested, and I do not think we will have the slightest difficulty in securing, with the exception possibly of two or three men, the whole-hearted co-operation of the scientists of the Commonwealth. I hope the honorable member for Grampians will not press his amendment.

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