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Wednesday, 1 August 1906
Page: 2175

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) . - Every argument employed by the honorable member for Echuca was an argument against the inclusion of matters relating to astronomy in the thirty-nine subjects upon which we are empowered to legislate under the Constitution. The fact that it has been included is the best answer to the honorable member.

Mr Glynn - That is the difficulty.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - In spite of all the arguments advanced by the honorable member for Echuca, and which doubtless were urged at the Federal Convention, a decision adverse to them was arrived at. It is not the intention of the supporters of this proposal that this related group of subjects should be taken over by the Commonwealth - because they, are very intimately related, not only in the public mind, but in themselves - for the purpose of mixing them up and thus creating confusion. But they maintain that the two Departments may be kept as distinct under Federal as they can be under State control. After all, we must recognise one outstanding fact, namely, that very frequently in Australia a single officer has combined a knowledge of these two services so far as their supreme control was concerned.

Mr McColl - It is a great mistake.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I doubt that. I have never heard that the services in New South Wales suffered anything from being under the control of one head, and I have yet to learn that the two services in South Australia were injured from being under the capable control of Sir Charles Todd. That gentleman had the ability to prosecute the study of both of these sciences with marked success.

Mr Bamford - There! was nobody to criticise him.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I venture to saythat! there are not many individuals in Australia who are capable of successfully criticising Sir Charles Todd in either of these two branches of knowledge. He had made himself a. master of both of them with great advantage to his own State and to the rest of Australia. If we can combine these related forms of wisdom in one man, is it not better that we should do so? What the people require is to obtain as great a degree of efficiency from these services as is possible, together with economic management. I know that in this Bill provision is made to take advantage of the services of certain States officers, but I venture to say that the Federal officer who will be appointed will not be able to exercise the same control over them as he would exercise if they were Federal officials. I shall be very much surprised if the work is done as efficiently under, this separate - and it may sometimes be conflicting - control as it would be if the control were unified. However, we are required by the Constitution to take over these services for good reasons which were offered to the Convention delegates, and there seems to be no valid reason why, at the present stage, we should separate this group of functions. If we had an efficient central staff, all we should need would be observers in the various States, with a modest Department, and a modest position. These observers would be subsidiary to the central bureau. That plan has been found to be a very excellent one in every other Department of business enterprise, from the stand-point of the saving of labour and' money, and of contributing .to greater efficiency of control. What works advantageously in every department of commercial life ought to work equally well even in scientific circles. I cordially support the proposal of the honorable member for North Sydney, in the belief that its adoption would ultimately lead to greater economy and efficiency.

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