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Wednesday, 1 August 1906
Page: 2179

Mr LONSDALE (New England) . - Ithas been argued that the taking over of the astronomical branch would conduce to economy.

Mr McWilliams - That has to be shown.

Mr LONSDALE - I am not referring to the statement of the honorable member for Franklin, who points out that if the astronomical branch be allowed to remain under the control of the States it can at any time be abolished. I am dealing with the question on broad lines, and it appears to me that we shall increase the expenditure of the States as a whole by allowing the astronomical branch to remain under their control whilst we take over the Department of Meteorology. If the astronomical branch is taken over by the Commonwealth it will be possible to have a chief astronomer, with his administrative staff, at the Seat of Government, and merely observers elsewhere, who will send the records of their observations to the head office for classification. This will save expense in administration. In any case, the meteorological work may be, and should be, kept apart from the astronomical work. It is much the more practical, and therefore the more immediately useful of the two. With regard to the objection of the honorable member for Franklin, Tasmania will have more to pay, even if we take over the meteorological branch only, because, instead of getting her meteorological information practically free of cost, as at present, she will have to pay her share of the cost of the Commonwealth Department.

Mr Deakin - But the cost to Tasmania would be still heavier if the astronomical branch were transferred to the Commonwealth.

Mr LONSDALE - In any case, the position of one State should not be allowed to prevent an arrangement being made which would be advantageous to the Commonwealth as a whole.

Mr Bamford - Does one man in 10,000 know what astronomical work is being done in Australia?

Mr LONSDALE - Probably not, though no doubt it is of great scientific value. I shall vote for the recommittal.

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