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Wednesday, 23 September 1936

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- I thank the Minister for his enlightening remarks, and hope that his optimism will be justified. Last year, no sum waa voted for buildings, works and sites for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

Senator Leckie - But nearly £8,000 was expended.

Senator PAYNE - This year, £28,000 is to be provided, and I am glad that the council is being given an opportunity to become even more effective than it now is. The wretched building now used by it in Melbourne is not at all suitable, and I am glad that better provision is being made. I do not agree that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has solved all the problems associated with primary production which it has attacked, and I do not expect that it will be free from the necessity to face new problems for a great number of years. For a long period, the council will find ample work for its officers. I appreciate what it has done, and rejoice in the success which it has achieved.

I wish the Government's venture in assisting the fishing industry every success. I take it that the Government's purpose in purchasing a vessel is to test the possibilities of Australian waters as fishing grounds, and to encourage the investment of sufficient capital to establish a worth-while industry. A great deal has been said about the value of the fishing industry. Other countries have realized its value to the fullest extent, but so far we in Australia have not done so. Only recently I read in the press that Japan had sent an expedition to inquire into the fishing resources of waters situated outside the 3-mile limit of the coast of the United States of America and Canada. Much to the disgust of those engaged in fishing operations in those two countries, the Japanese officers in charge of the research vessel sent an invitation to the authorities in Canada and the United States of America to discuss the need for the imposition of a quantitative limit in respect of fish trawled outside the 3-mile limit of their respective coasts. I mention this to illustrate that the Japanese people realize to the fullest extent the desirableness of securing the highest efficiency in the fishing industry in order to make possible the supply of fish at prices within the reach of the mass of the people. Recently legislation was passed through this Parliament to control whaling in territorial waters, and countries all over the world are more and more jealously guarding their natural fisheries and breeding grounds. Honorable senators would do well to pause before giving expression to their thoughts in regard to matters such as this without due consideration. Senator Arkins suggested that the countless numbers of small fish which abound in our coastal waters should be netted and used for the manufacture of fertilizer. These fish, however, provide the natural food for whales. If the honorable senator's suggestion were adopted, what would become of the whaling industry? The present state of affairs in connexion with the fishing industry in Australia is lamentable. While fish ought to be cheap, the high prices demanded for it place it out of the reach of nine out of every ten people. At present a large quantity of fish is destroyed in the southern portion of Australia in order to limit the quantity placed on the market, and prices are thus maintained at such a level that only the well-to-do can afford to pay them. Only recently I saw fish for sale in a window in Melbourne at 2s. 6d. per lb. If the fishing industry were properly organized and con- trolled, and no restrictions were placed on the quantity made available in the Australian market, it should be possible to purchase it for a quarter of that price. I am glad to see that this provision has been made in the bill, and feel sure that much benefit will result from it.

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