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Wednesday, 23 September 1936

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) . - Although edible fish are obtained in fairly large quantities in southern waters, there is a greater variety in Queensland waters. The need for a vessel to engage in research work has been mentioned for some time, and it is pleas ing to find that the Government has now. decided to construct such a vessel. Japanese vessels have been found operating in Australian waters, but if Australian vessels encroached on Japanese waters international trouble would soon arise. Senator Herbert Hays is always interesting, but he is amusing when ha attempts to attack the policy of the Labour party, and particularly the alleged failure of Queensland State enterprises. 1 admit that some socialistic enterprises have failed, not only in Queensland, but also in Western Australia and Tasmania. Those opposed to State entery rises would not favour handing over our railway systems to private companies.

Senator HERBERT HAYS (TASMANIA) - The railways have a monopoly.

Senator MARWICK (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - The Midland Railway Company operating iu Western Australia made a profit last year of £180,000, but the State railways showed a loss.

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) - Wai the private railway operating in competition with the State system?

Senator Marwick - Yes.

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) - I do not think that there is direct competition between that company's line and the State service. The circumstances in Western Australia arc exceptional. Often private enterprise has failed where State enterprises have succeeded. Honorable senators who suggest that private enterprise is always a success should remember that thousands of farmers, business men, and others fail.' It is unreasonable to condemn State enterprises when, owing to exceptional circumstances, they are unsuccessful. I have known mcn with a good knowledge of farming conditions in Great Britain to come to Australia with £5,000 or £10,000, and lose their all. They have lined the pockets of agents and other land sharks and have then been compelled to go on the pay sheets of State enterprises such as our railways. When the State cattle stations in Queensland failed the conditions were so bad that the beef barons, who were on the verge of ruin, were compelled to go, cap in hand, to the Government. The Melbourne Age directed attention to the fact that these men had joined the long list of mendicants. The failure of State enterprises is sometimes due to the unfair competition of private enterprise, and to unsatisfactory management. A comparison between private enterprise and State undertakings shows that the latter are increasing in number. In the Federal Capital Territory hundreds of thousands of acres have been taken from the control of private enterprise and the land now belongs to the nation. In the foundations of the proposed permanent administrative block, the quantity of cement used by private enterprise was less than that stipulated in the specifications, and, in consequence, thousands of pounds have had to be expended to rectify this fault. A retired public servant informed me that the disclosures he could make were so startling that they should be ventilated in Parliament. He' was prepared to give me full information, but I did not wish to be associated with a scandal. Some have said that the construction of a vessel to engage in research work suggests that the Commonwealth Government proposes to embark upon a socialistic enterprise in which the Governments of Queensland and New South Wales are alleged to have failed, but that is not so. We import annually fish and fish products valued at £1,500,000. While the present Government is opposed, largely on principle, to such enterprises, it is to some extent proceeding to repair the omissions of private enterprise. One instance of this is the decision to build the fisheries research vessel and to show private companies bow to market fish on a large scale so that we no longer shall pay in tribute overseas more than £1,500,000 annually for certain fish requirements. For another instance I invite honorable senators to study the provisions in this hill covering the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. What is that institution if it is not a socialistic enterprise? It is a socialistic undertaking by the whole of the Commonwealth to repair the omissions of private enterprise.

Senator Gibson - It is an attempt to gain scientific knowledge.

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) - It is a collective action by Australia for the purpose I have stated. At one time Australia did not have this council.

In Brisbane a couple of months ago I met a man who had an invention to save sheep from the ravages of the blowfly. After having interviewed some members of the House of Representatives he approached me and wanted to know whether financial assistance could be afforded to him to put the invention on the market. I worked as a boy in minor capacities on sheep stations, and I also worked on a farm where a few hundred sheep were included in the stock. I assured the gentleman that I did not have £20 or £30 to put into a company for the marketing of the invention, but 1 told him that I could take him to a place where he could get expert assistance and advice. I took him to the Brisbane office of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. I bless the Government which founded this council, for it enabled that man to satisfy himself as to the commercial possibilities of his invention. Whilst on the subject of inventions, I must say that if it were not for the 100 persons who invent foolish things we would not have the one hundred and first person who invents something useful. It is a well known fact that more than 99 per cent, of all inventions are worthless. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is a valuable organization, and it is expanding. It cannot be gainsaid, however, that it is a socialistic enterprise. I could cite a number of cases where the conservative element in the Parliaments of this country, acting under the impulse of public opinion, and spurred on in recent generations by the party whose leanings are naturally towards things which are socialistic, has profited by the realization that private enterprise has its limitations. Admittedly there have been failures of State enterprises, but are we going to wipo out democracy because there are such men as Hitler and Mussolini? Democracy has been on trial for thousands of years.

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