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Thursday, 15 August 1912

Senator ST LEDGER (Queensland) . - I think that there is a good deal more than Senator McGregor understands in the contention of Senator Chataway. There are certain chemical and scientific processes which are secret, and are not capable of being patented, and if they were patented the Minister of Defence has shown quickly how the world might get hold of them, and the object of the Act be defeated. I shall give an instance which is probably familiar to every honorable senator. The manufacture of iron for conversion into steel depended upon a proper use of manganese at a certain temperature of the iron - that is, before the Bessemer steel process was invented. There happened to be in the north of England a man who* discovered by accident a secret in connexion with the matter, and wherever he "went, through the possession of his secret - by being able to use manganese in the furnaces at a certain time - he was able to secure his own price, and the firms by whom he was employed had a monopoly. They were able to control the manufacture of a certain class of iron. It was very easy afterwards, when the chemists got to work, to drop on to what he discovered, possibly by accident. Why should a man in a case of that kind be compelled to disclose his secret? Then, again, the process of manufacturing indigo dyes from tar was discovered ' by a chemist in England. The Germans heard about it, and ultimately it was patented, and, as a result, the British manufacturers lost some of the trade in serges. If the secret process of manufacture alluded to in this proposed section includes - as the VicePresident of the Executive Council affirms - what Senator Chataway is asking for, what objection is there to accepting his amendment? For instance, a man might be asked, " How is it that you have a monopoly in iron? You are sweating your workers, and we want to know how you manufacture your iron." Why should he be forced to disclose his scientific formula? Most of the young students in our universities are daily endeavouring to discover scientific formulas. The adoption of the amendment can do no harm.

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