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Friday, 26 July 1912

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - As Senator McDougall is so anxious for the truth, I may inform him that I know Mr. Clarke, and have known him for very many years. I met him constantly - not week by week, but month by month, quarter by quarter, and year after year. I have followed his public life for many years, I forget how many, and I knew well what Iwas speaking about.

Senator Rae - What about the honorable senator's knowledge of agriculture?

Senator MILLEN - I am prepared to put it practically against that of Mr. Clarke.

SenatorRae. - Would the honorable senator mind saying how he came to meet Mr. Clarke so frequently ?

Senator MILLEN - In the Agricultural Department, in Sydney. So that Senator McDougall's first statement that I did not know Mr. Clarke absolutely falls to the ground. He went on to say that I did not take the trouble to inquire as to his capacity. It was not necessary that I should inquire, seeing that I knew so much about Mr. Clarke as I did.

Senator Long - Senator McDougall said the honorable senator knew nothing about Mr. Clarke's ability.

Senator MILLEN - I had every opportunity to acquire that knowledge.

Senator McDougall - I was giving the honorable senator the benefit of the doubt. I did not think he would come here, and say what was not correct.

Senator MILLEN - I know Mr. Clarke's history from the time he entered the Public Service of New South Wales.

Senator Findley - And a very good and creditable one it is too.

Senator MILLEN - It is, and I said so. My objection to Mr, Clarke's appointment was not that he is not a good officer. ' What I said I repeat now, and I challenge Ministers and Mr. Clarke to deny it. I said that he has not had a scientific or practical training.

Senator McDougall - I say that he has.

Senator McGregor - Has he Labour sympathies ?

Senator MILLEN - I repeat that he has had no scientific or practical training. He has never worked upon an experimental farm, or a farm connected with an agricultural college. Since I have known him, which moist be for the last fifteen or sixteen years, he has never done anything but purely office work. As regards a scientific training, if he has had it, what diplomas does he possess? Where did he acquire this knowledge? It is not to his discredit that he has not had a scientific training. I did not say that it was to his discredit that he has not had a practical training. What I did say was - and I repeat the statement, because I see no reason to retract from the position I took up - that in sending a man to the great Northern Territory, with its unknown and unsuspected problems, it was desirable to send a man who had qualified in one of these two ways. From his practical acquaintance with agricultural or pastoral matters he could benefit those who settled in the Northern Territory, or, if not trained practically, he could take to his work a scientific equipment. Nothing that I said was to the discredit of Mr. Clarke. I simply wanted to say that he was an excellent officer for office work, who had acquired a theoretical knowledge of agriculture which had secured for him the position of editor of the Agricultural Gazette, in which he rarely wrote himself. His duties were not those of the editor of an ordinary newspaper. He discharged these duties excellently". I do not know, in the Public Service of New South Wales, a man who was better qualified for office work than Mr. Clarke, but the Government put a round man into a square hole when they sent him to the Northern Territory. As regards what he did for the Scotch Commissioners, there is no word in the quotation to contradict what I stated here.

Senator McDougall - They refer to his remarkable agrarian knowledge.

Senator MILLEN - What did they mean by that remark? Mr. Clarke may have a wide theoretical knowledge which would, and did, enable him to render great assistance to the Commissioners in telling them what particular conditions they would find in given districts, and in other ways helping them in the purposes of their inquiry. But that does not in any way conflict with my statement that he had not for this larger field what would be called or recognised as a practical or scientific training.

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