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Thursday, 21 May 1970

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Education and Science) - in reply - I am glad to see that this Bill has the support of honourable members on both sides of the House. I wish to express my appreciation of the speeches which have been made, particularly those made on previous occasions when this matter has been before the House, but also those made leda\.. 1 believe that they were thoughtful and constructive speeches. I have in fact forwarded to the members of the interim Council, who are inquiring into what should be the precise structure of this Institute, copies of Hansard which incorporate the earlier speeches. I propose also to send those members copies of the speeches which have been made today. The Chairman of the Council has indicated to me that he and his members have been particularly interested in some of the ideas which honourable members have put forward in their speeches on this Bill. Perhaps 1 should qualify that to some degree in that the speech of the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen) related almost entirely to his own electorate and the sewage outfall at Malabar. Although this type of pollution would be a matter for marine scientists, I would not like to be asked to give any direction to this national Institute that it should first concentrate on the honourable member's electorate.

The honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross) said that he thought he would be political, and he was. Perhaps as a quid pro quo 1 could be momentarily political in return. He did try to make light of the very great part that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has played in the establishment of this Institute. The form of the Institute, its general structure and the objective of supreme excellence in marine science, which the Prime Minister stated in his policy speech last year, are very much projects which he has had closely at heart and behind which he has put his energy. The honourable member for Brisbane referred to some remarks made by Senator Felix Dittmer in another place many years ago. I would remind the honourable member only that the endorsement of this same senator was withdrawn last year by the Australian Labor Party. This drew from him the response: T have been sacked by a bunch of gangsters.' This seems to be a little inconsistent of the honourable member. Here he is referring to a man who claims that the Labor Party which sacked him is a bunch of gangsters, and then he wants to praise him for this measure. I think the connection is a little remote. However, I will not dwell on that. I reply only because of the injection of this element into the debate by the honourable member.

There were certain points in the speech of the honourable member for Brisbane on which I wish to comment. It is the fact that this Institute, although it is situated in Townsville and will be closely connected with tropical waters, is a national Institute of Marine Science. Under the terms of reference it will not be restricted in any way simply to tropical waters. Indeed much of the marine science of great interest will relate to the cold waters. However, I think the Institute's early priorities will be connected with tropical waters and with the Great Barrier Reef, lt has an enormous area to cover, as the honourable member for Brisbane pointed out. The continental shelf of Australia is nearly a third as large as the land mass of Australia itself. The problems from cold to tropical waters vary enormously. They cover a very wide range. The problem for this Institute will be the extent of the resources which can be devoted to it in enabling it to do its tasks and the availability of personnel because the world is rather short of top class marine scientists. Wc will have to go along in the best way that we can and probably look around the world, as well as in Australia, to get the top quality of marine scientists for this Institute so that it will have the degree of excellence that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has outlined for it.

In closing the debate perhaps I might refer to the fact that the Prime Minister in farewelling Her Majesty the Queen at the Sydney Airport announced the creation of Queen's fellowships in marine science to commemorate Her Majesty's visit, lt might be convenient if I now give honourable members a few more details about these fellowships which will be under the administration of myself and of my Department. The fellowships will be awarded each year for study in some aspect of marine science. They will be tenable at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the James Cook University of North Queensland, or at an other Australian university or research establishment on the recommendation of the Australian Institute of Marine Science. Until the Institute is established in its final form the Interim Council will be the one to advise on these fellowships, to allow flexibility in selecting the best men available the stipend and allowances will be offered at 2 levels. One level, which is identical to the rate currently paid for Queen Elizabeth II Fellowships, offers a salary of from $6,000 to $6,500 per annum plus allowances. The higher level involves a salary of up to the rate for a professor, together with allowances. The lower level or 'fellow' is designed to attract those with Doctor of Philosophy, or equivalent qualifications in marine science and an age limit of not more than 30 years has been set. The higher level or senior fellow' is designed for those who have achieved professional distinction in the field of marine science and hence no age limit has been set. Because of these differences the period of tenure for a fellow shall be 2 years with a provision for extension in exceptional cases to a third year, while the senior fellow shall be for a period of up to 1 year.

We may by this type of senior fellowship get some extremely distinguished world scientists in this field, perhaps on a year's leave, to take up work at the Institute. The number of awards will be up to 5 in each year, with flexibility in selection as between fellow and senior fellow. Applicants will be eligible regardless of their country of origin or citizenship. I will be responsible for selection after advice from a special selection committee, my Department will provide private secretariat services and administrative support. In closing the debate I wish to say that I appreciate the contributions made and the support which has been given to the Bill.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

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