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Wednesday, 28 July 1920

Mr BRUCE (Flinders) .- The proposal before the Committee seems to be the antithesis of the proposal actually in the Bill. The honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) suggests that it is not very difficult to amend the clause, and that possibly the Minister for Trade and Customs may be prepared to do so. To me it seems absolutely impossible when one considers the nature of the amendment and the principle underlying it. The Bill provides for the appointment of a central body, which happens to be one individual, to control, direct, and organize scientific effort. The proposal of the honorable member for Grampians is that we shall not have a central body, but that the members of the controlling body shall be scattered over the whole Commonwealth. That is absolutely out of the question-

Mr Jowett - The honorable member has totally misunderstood my proposal.

Mr BRUCE - I am sorry if I have done so. I have perused the amendment, and I have also listened to the honorable member's explanation, and I cannot see that it has any other meaning. I realize that the honorable member has been persistent throughout in suggesting that he is not creating an unwieldy body which would not easily be brought together and able to come to a dec: sion ; but I suggest he is totally wrong when he makes that statement.

Mr Jowett - Possibly the honorable member did not hear all I said, and I was not able to say all I desired owing to interruptions.

Mr BRUCE - Evidently the honorable member " desires to make his position clear ; but up to the present he most distinctly has not done so. He has told us frankly that there are to be six State advisory bodies.

Mr Ryan - Do I understand the honorable member to suggest that the position is not clear ?

Mr BRUCE - I think it is absolutely clear ; but, apparently my reading of the position is not the reading of the proposer of the amendment. I understand there are to be six advisory committers or councils, which, together with the Director, are to constitute a body corporate. These States are scattered far apart, and, no doubt, the individual members of the proposed body will live at long distances from one another. How such a body will be able to act with any celerity, or any definite purpose, is quite beyond me to understand. It seems to me an entirely wrong principle that is embodied in the amendment; and for that reason I shall most certainly vote against it. I suggest that the matter cannot be dealt with in the manner suggested by the amendment, which involves a re-casting of the principle of the Bill.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - If the amendment is carried it will mean that the whole Bill will have to be re-cast.

Mr BRUCE - Absolutely - an entirely new principle is introduced.

Mr Ryan - That would be in conformity with the suggestion of the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Lavelle), to withdraw and re-cast the Bill.

Mr BRUCE - That possibly is so; but I was not accusing the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) of such subtlety in: his tactics. He voted against the Bill ; but up to the time he made his suggestion I was under the impression that his idea was to honestly try to improve it.

Mr Jowett - I wish to makeit a good Bill now.

Mr BRUCE - I think that out of his own mouth the honorable member has shown that his mind has not the subtle agility of the mind of another honorable member who has just interjected. The points that have been raised in the discussion certainly require a great deal of consideration; but, personally, I cannot see that we can possibly come into line under this amendment. It is essential and imperative, as pointed out, that we should have the co-operation of the best scientific minds in Australia, and also the co-operation of the States' various Departments. It is also a question for the consideration of the House whether one man should, form this body corporate, or whether there should be more. In the original Bill the number was three; and the number is a matter for direct amendment. It seems to me, however, that whatever is done, we must have a central body of a limited number, and provide that the man or men selected shall command the respect of the community, par ticularly of the scientific section and the leaders of industry. If this body acts with reasonable tact we shall get far better results from an advisory council than: we could get by creating a great unwieldy body which certainly, in my opinion, would not give that scientific investigation which is hoped for under this amendment.

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