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Friday, 19 November 1965

Mr HALLETT (Canning) .- This afternoon it gives me great pleasure to support the Bill now before the House, which is designed to grant financial assistance to the States in connection with research. It may be regarded as a joint venture between the Commonwealth and the States in recognition of the requirements of research in this nation. I believe that it is another step forward in the development of our great country. It is important to note that one of the definitions in clause 2 of the Bill states what is meant by " research ". It says - "research" means systematic investigations in some branch of science or learning.

I feel that this is quite important in a discussion on this measure, lt means that there will be systematic planning of, and investigation in, various forms of research. As I understand the definition, the research will not stop at any particular point. This provision gives emphasis to the point that research must continue right through the field. I feel that it is quite important to do exactly this in Australia today because once a project has been started in some field of research, it is merely a waste of time and money if the necessary resources are not available to enable the research to be carried through to the end.

In introducing this measure the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) emphasised that grants made to the States under this Bill will be for the benefit of individual research projects of particular merit. In that expression we have the suggestion of particular items being plucked out of the research field, and that on those items the research will continue through to the bitter end. As I see the situation, this is particularly important today in Australia. If we wish to advance and to achieve the necessary growth in Australia research is a must. In the past most of the finance made available by governments in Australia has been used for research into agricultural matters. This is understandable because until a quite recent stage of our development Australia was still largely dependent on primary industry. For that reason it was only natural that research funds should be expended on agricultural research. I believe that we have gained tremendous rewards from such research and I pay a compliment to the universities throughout Australia, and to no mean extent to the University of Western Australia, for the work that has been done.

As a result of research the costs of some primary products have been reduced. Quite recently we were able to reduce the price of wheat to the Australian public because of an overall reduction in the cost structure of the wheat farmer. That was due in no small measure to the efforts made by farmers, but it was due also to the magnificent achievements of research workers. Looking a little further into the field of research and development of this great country, I feel that at this point of time it is necessary for us to consider a greater amount of research into secondary industry. As was mentioned during a debate earlier this week, consideration must be given to costs in various secondary industries. If we want to progress as we should, a great amount of money must be spent on research measures in secondary industry. I feel that it is only in this way and by modernising our industries that we can do the same for secondary industries as we have done for primary industries.. But this work cannot be undertaken by industry alone; it must be assisted to a great extent. I do not suggest that the Government should be responsible for supplying all the finance that is needed for research. That is not my intention. I believe that secondary industry as a whole must assist itself by research work as many sections of industry have been doing.

We know that there has been research in some parts of secondary industry and we know also that primary industries have engaged in research work in recent years. For instance, wool growers, in conjunction with the Government, contribute to a research fund. This situation applies also to wheat, and in relation to meat legislation was introduced quite recently in this place to enable the area of research to be expanded. Research in various industries is growing rapidly in Australia today. It is for this reason that the Bill is so important. As Australia develops we will find that, as has been the case in other countries, we will have to spend more of our available money on research. The United States of America and Great Britain are spending on research a greater proportion of their gross national product than Australia spends. This is understandable. Australia has not reached the stage of development in secondary industry that those countries have attained. This is why I suggest that if we want to develop Australia to the point that it should reach, we must provide more money for research.

My experience has shown that whatever is spent on research pays handsome dividends. It is amazing how little has been spent, yet we have gained tremendous assets from that expenditure. We have only to consider the development in Western Australia, with which I am more familiar than I am with other States. Not many years ago we thought that great areas of Western Australia were of almost no value for agricultural purposes. During the last few years some honorable members of this House have been to the West and have seen the tremendous developmental work that is proceeding there. In the particular area of which now I speak production began almost immediately the problems had been solved. The University of Western Australia has been responsible in no small measure for some of this achievement. In parts of the State, instead of barren country or areas of short scrub with no commercial value as we had in the past, we now have areas producing vast quantities of wheat, wool, meat and other primary products. Tremendous problems which had been associated with the raising of stock have disappeared. This has been brought about to a great extent by the research performed by gentlemen at the university. I have no doubt that they will continue to work in these fields.

Although I suggest that research into agriculture should not be diminished in any way, I feel that there is a need for more research in secondary industry. We must tackle the problem of costs if we are to progress as we should. The work done by some of the gentlemen at the universities has not always been given the recognition that it should have received. I want to pay a special tribute to these gentlemen and to work that they have done over the years. In many instances it has not been easy for them because of lack of finance. Primary industries have assisted them and have provided funds which have been put to good use in research. There has been no shortage of energy when programmes have had to be mapped out and the results of research have had to be put to work. I feel that it is a job well done when the Commonwealth provides more money for research. In future we should make even more funds available for this purpose.

Finally, as the extent of our research grows, Australia must join with other nations in an exchange of research findings. I have no doubt that we have been doing so already, but I believe that it is important to exchange information. I know that our scientists have been travelling in various parts of the world. 1 feel that if we continue to provide for research in broad terms into medicine, agriculture and industry we will more quickly reach our goal of finding ways to ensure peace and understanding among the nations of the world. Scientists, through research, can do much to achieve this end. They can bring to us many things to make our life much happier and much better. They can enable us to do the things that we should be doing, to feed the hungry nations and to improve their way of life. I look to research and to the scientists of the world to play their part in making information available to all nations.

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