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Wednesday, 16 September 1936

Senator ARKINS (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I am of the opinion that funds should be made available to enable the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which is doing service of great value to the community, to undertake research into tropical agriculture. A large portion of Australia is within the tropics, and although for many years there was a general belief that white men could not live in such areas, we now know that some of the finest specimens of Australian manhood are to be found in the tropical parts of Queensland. I think it was Lord Birkenhead who said in his book that in 2030 most, if not all, of the agricultural products of the world would be grown in tropical regions. Australia needs population; and in no part of this country could the population be increased to greater advantage than in the tropical north. In my opinion, an organization should be established to investigate, not only the problems connected with tropical agriculture, but also the means by which tropical areas at present without white population could be made healthy and suitable for whites. Australia's future is, to a great extent, bound up with the development of its tropical areas, and I should like to see more attention given to the investigation of problems connected with them.

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [4.13]. - The field of investigation mentioned by the honorable senator has not been neglected by the Government. The School of Tropical Medicine, which is investigating tropical diseases, is pursuing a line of research which is of great importance to the northern portions of the Commonwealth, and also to the territories under its control. Those territories haveagricultural problems different from those of the mainland of Australia. The agricultural departments of the States contain officers competent to deal with the problems which arise on the mainland in areas under their control; but the Commonwealth is responsible for " dealing with these problems in Papua and the Mandated Territory of New Guinea. The honorable senator may be interested to know that only to-day I approved of an advertisement calling for applications for the position of Adviser on Tropical Agriculture in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea. The advertisement will at first bo confined to newspapers circulating in the Commonwealth; but should a suitable applicant not be forthcoming from within Australia, it will be extended to other places. There are great possibilities of expanding the agricultural industry in both Papua and the Mandated Territory of New Guinea. Already some useful work has been done in this connexion. Honorable senators and others who may be interested should read the latest reports of the Administrator of the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, and of the Lieutenant-Governor of Papua. Those reports show that a good deal has already been done; but the Government recognizes that the time has arrived for a more active policy in this connexion.

Proposed vote agreed to.

Proposed vote- Department of External Affairs, £3,140 - agreed to.

Proposed vote,£136,130.

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