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Thursday, 8 March 1928

Senator THOMPSON (QUEENSLAND) asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -

What were the reasons which actuated the Government in declining to accept the offer by the Queensland Government to place at the disposal of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research on area of first-class sheep country in Central Queensland for the purpose of assisting in scientific investigation of the problems affecting the sheep industry ?

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE - The matter was thoroughly investigated by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which looked very thoroughly into the possibilities of utilizing the suggested area at Saltern Creek for a research station, and to that end consulted not only its own technical officers, but also many experienced men in Queensland, including the Council of the United Graziers' Association. The following reasons actuated the Government in arriving at its decisions : -

1.   Blowfly work. - The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research considered that a specialstation for the study of the blowfly pest would be necessary, and certain proposals in this connexion were under consideration. But as the main centre in any proposed scheme would be at Canberra, it would not be at all convenient or economical to have the special station away in Central Queensland.

2.   The area would not be of any use for the investigation of worms in sheep or any other parasitological diseases, for the simple reason that those diseases do not exist there. 3.As to disease prevention generally, the veterinary advisers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research were not attracted by the idea of establishing a big station at Saltern Creek. They pointed out that as a rule much work could be done in a properly equipped central laboratory and that, for the rest, it should be carried out where the disease exists. The Barcaldine district is a fairly clean area. It was considered that only diseases which are already found in itshould be investigated there, and of these there were remarkably few.

4.   While for the investigation of natural grasses best suited for wool production, the suggested station would certainly be valuable, the council pointed out that many such regions all over Australia would need to be investigated, and it hoped that pastoralists would themselves provide the necessary facilities in a great number of much smaller areas.

5.   As to artificial feeding and its effect on wool production, of course work could be done there. But as Saltern Creek was an area in which artificial feeding was generally quite unnecessary, it had not the special value which would attach to a definitely " sheep sick " area or one commonly subject to droughts. It would, in fact, be definitely less useful than ah area of poorer country.

6.   While the study of nutritive values of fodder plants was necessary and a close study of ever so many plants must be carried out in numerous localities, the Council did not need a 25,000 acre station, or, in fact, any station of its own for the purpose.

Various other reasons against the acceptance of the offer were submitted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which advised that, having in view the limited possibilities of real usefulness of the station, the cost of stocking it and the cost of equipping it and staffing it for investigational purposes, it would be impossible to justify a recommendation to spend thousands of pounds on the area in question. Though unable to accept the offer, the Commonwealth Government very highly appreciated the action of the Queensland Government in the matter.

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