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Thursday, 29 July 1920

Mr TUDOR (Yarra) .- Although this measure has been before Parliament for nearly five years, this is the first time that it has reached the third-reading stage in this House. A

Bill with the same title has been passed by the Senate on several occasions, but the Minister tells me that this is a different Bill, and will, therefore, have to be passed by the Senate after it leaves this Chamber. The fundamental principles of this measure .are different. For one thing, it provides for one Director instead of three, and even the new clause, as proposed by the Minister, on the subject of Advisory Committees, is different from the original provision. In the first Bill, the Government proposed a definite State Advisory Committee. I have never heard it mentioned during the debate on this measure that there is in existence now, in the Trade and Customs Department, a Bureau of Commerce and Industry, of which Mr. Stirling Taylor is the head. Under what authority is that body acting?

Mr Bowden - Will not this new Institute wipe that out?

Mr TUDOR - No. We are merely building up all the time more bureaux, more institutes, and more spending departments. . I pointed out yesterday that certain Departments of the Commonwealth were taxgatherers, the two principal being the Taxation Department and the Trade and Customs Department ; while, in my opinion, the other Departments thought that they could prove the necessity for their existence only by keeping on spending money. I eliminated the Postal Department from that classification, because it is both a gatherer and distributor of revenue, and serves a public purpose. Departments such as those of Defence and Navy are only in existence for the purpose of spending money, and apparently think that the more they spend the more completely they prove the necessity for their existence. I ,am very much afraid that that will be our experience under this Bill. Under paragraph c of clause 11 it is provided that the powers and functions of the Director shall, subject to the regulations and to the directions of the Minister, be " the making of grants in aid of pure scientific research." That gives power 'to pay out practically unlimited sums of money. The organization, in order to prove that it is doing good work, may be tempted to distribute more and more money, and to encourage scientific research into many things when more important matters could well be carried out first.

Mr Mahony - They may spend the money chasing blowflies.

Mr TUDOR - I do not know whether they will spend it in that way or in trying to eradicate the prickly pear. L was opposed to many of the provisions of the Bill, and believed that there should have been a conference before it was passed. I notice that efforts are being made, by agreement with the States, to introduce a uniform system of taxation - and I believe ours will, at least, compare favorably with that of the States - but I am afraid that, as we have passed this Bill, the States will not favour that cooperation and co-ordination of effort which some honorable members so fondly expect. At the first conference which was called in connexion with the proposal to establish a 'Commonwealth Institute of Science and Industry, the Prime Minister said he was not particular as to the amount of money spent on the scheme up to £500,000. He did not ' say whether he meant that that money was to be spent in one year or ten years. I believe there is necessary work to be done by the Institute, but the utmost care must be exercised in the appointment of a Director. He must be a practical man, and not a theorist, to extend, as far as possible, the work now being carried on by the Commonwealth laboratory under the Trade and Customs Department. It would have been a thousand times better to extend that branch than to set up an entirely new Institute, which may think that, in order to prove the need for its existence, it must spend money all the time.

Mr Bowden - The expenditure will be under the direction of the Minister.

Mr TUDOR - Yes; and under the direction of the House. Honorable members who have been here for some time know what that means. In some future Parliament a Bill may be brought down to authorize expenditure on the same lines as the. measure which has just been handed to me, covering Supply over three fortnightly payments, and which the Treasurer has informed me must be passed at a very early date. I do not know whether money is allocated under it for the Institute of Science and

Industry, but I have no doubt that the Government will keep on paying the salaries and wages of those engaged there. I shall be glad to' hear from the Minister, if he replies, what work is being carried out by the existing Bureau of Commerce and Industry, and why that body cannot be brought under this scheme. When the Director of the new Institute is appointed, will it be necessary to have a separate bureau of commerce and industry doing a great deal of the same work?

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - They are not doing the same work.

Mr TUDOR - It is all commerce and no industry, so far as the organization of labour is concerned. I remember putting on record the names of its members and the classes of business they follow; They are all of one .class, and do not include one representative of labour.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - If there are no representatives of labour on the Central Advisory Council of the Bureau of Commerce and Industry, it is solely the fault of the labour organizations. They were asked to appoint their representatives.

Mr TUDOR - Three representatives of labour were invited to, and were present at, the first meeting. They were at least as .good as the representatives that we expect to get under the Bill which the Prime Minister has introduced to-night. I believe that the three of them were all ex-presidents of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council, so that there was no doubt about their repute and of their representative capacity, and especially their ability to represent organized labour. They said they found eighteen on one side and only themselves on the other. It was a six to one proposition, and, according to their story, they were made to feel that their presence was not wanted. It is a mistake to have in existence two bodies carrying out a great deal of the same work.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - They are not doing so.

Mr TUDOR - That fact has never been stated in this debate. I thought I would not let this Bill go through without expressing my views on that question. I hope that the expectations of the Minister and of the Ministry generally will be realized, and that the Institute will prove of groat advantage to Australia, but I am very much afraid that a great amount of money will be spent on this undertaking which could be much better spent in other directions.

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