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Wednesday, 28 July 1920

Mr BLUNDELL (Adelaide) . - I intend to support the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) in the amendment he has moved, because it is an effort to secure co operation with the States. I admit that the amendment may be open to the charge that it gives the advisory councils a power which the Government may be justified in objecting to, on the ground that it might mean creating perpetual bodies. If that is. the objection, it is one that can easily be overcome

Mr Jowett - That is not the proposal.

Mr BLUNDELL - I agree with the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) that the amendment will be the means of creating in each State a body with administrative powers.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - If the honorable member does not propose to make them a part of the corporate body, the amendment of which I have given notice will do all that is needed.

Mr BLUNDELL - I do not think so. The amendment is doing the very thing that I object to, as it provides that the Institute shall comprise, for instance, a Bureau of Agriculture. Where is that to' come from ? Is it to be in Victoria, where there is already a Bureau of Agriculture? If we say we shall establish forthwith a Bureau of Agriculture, it means that we shall have in Victoria a second bureau, and that is a serious objection. We have to realize that, not only in this State, but in other States of the Commonwealth, bureaux of agriculture are already established, and are doing splendid work. Instead of having others we should use these institutions in conjunction with the activities of the Federal Government, which would be able to deal with more important questions that are not of State interest, but rather of Federal concern.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - That is what is proposed.

Mr BLUNDELL - The Bill provides that bureaux of agriculture "shall" be established, but in another portion of the measure relating to co-operation, the word " may " is used where " shall " should be employed. We should not agree to the establishment of new Departments when effective work is already being accomplished in every State, but should use those agencies which are available.

Mr MARKS (WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It reads "shall when necessary."

Mr BLUNDELL - If the Bureau of Agriculture is to be successful it is necessary that it shall co-operate with the State bureaux already established. It is for us to find some means of co-operation to prevent additional and unnecessary expense. When I was a Minister in South Australia it was the practice to co-operate with the Commonwealth Government under an arrangement whereby the State bureau was utilized. A member of the advisory council visited Melbourne from time to time to consult with the representatives of the Commonwealth.

Sir Robert Best - That was not statutory.

Mr BLUNDELL - No ; but the Commonwealth should link up to the States without giving them statutory powers or creating new Departments. We should no-operate in such a manner that they will feel that they are part and parcel of the proposal. We all recognise the necessity for such an Institute: but we must also realize that it is undesirable,, in view of our financial obligations, to establish costly Departments that will be antagonistic to those already in existence. This Government may be quite prepared to co-operate with the States ; but we have to remember that we are not legislating for this year or next year, and that it is quite possible that a few years hence a Government may be in power that will be in favour of establishing their own Departments in all the States. At the present time, I believe, there are some honorable members who think that the Commonwealth should ignore the States altogether, and in dealing with legislation of this character we have to remember that its administration may be in the hands of men whose opinions may be totally opposed to ours. The new clause of which the Minister has given notice sets out the functions of the new Department, and the moment a Director realizes that he has the power to appoint he will do so.

Mr Fenton - He has power in other cla US GS

Mr BLUNDELL - Yes ; he has.

Mr Richard Foster - Does not the Bill say he "may "?

Mr BLUNDELL -" Mav " is a very convenient word to have in a Bill; but when we mean real business the word " shall " is used. I intend to support the amendment of the honorable member for Grampians, although I think it goes too far. I ask the Minister to postpone the consideration of this clause, as he will then have an opportunity of carefully considering the amendment. This is not a party question, but one on which every honorable member is anxious to do the right thing.

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