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Friday, 25 November 1910

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) - - In common with other members of the Senate, I deplore the fact that we have not now sufficient time in which to properly discuss this measure. But I- recognise that during this session we have been working under high pressure, and, I am glad to be able to say, with better results than were achieved in any previous session of the Federal Parliament.

Senator Vardon - I question that. The results of last session were ten times better.

Senator LYNCH - We may judge somewhat of the happy results likely to follow the legislation of this session from statements appearing in this morning's newspapers to the effect that ships bound for Australia are unable to accommodate all the persons who wish to come out and enjoy some of the good things to be obtained here. I am practically marooned in Melbourne during the parliamentary session, and the fact might influence me in deciding whether we ought to take time for a full discussion of the Estimates. But I am bound to recognise that the convenience of honorable senators from the other States should be considered. I notice a vote in the schedule for Insurance, and I should be glad if the Government would make up their minds to a radical departure in this connexion, and, instead of paying high premiums to insurance companies for the insurance of Government property, follow the example of business people and be their own insurers. It is a common practice for shipping companies to ear-mark certain of their funds for the insurance of their vessels, and in this way they effect great savings in their operations. If the Government would be their own insurers for every ,£1 worth of property under the control of the Commonwealth, we might save the money which is now paid in premiums to independent companies. I have not much to say on the Budget, but there are two matters to which I should like to briefly refer. We have post and telegraph offices in every place of any importance throughout the Commonwealth, and a huge network of mail services, and I am of opinion that the Post and Telegraph Department might be used to much greater advantage than it is at the present time for the benefit of those who are engaged in rural and primary industries in Australia. At the present time, in the United States of America every rural mail carrier, as he starts on his circuit every morning, is supplied by the Meteorological Bureau with slips of paper on which the weather conditions likely to prevail during the next few days are indicated. These slips are dropped at various points on the route taken by each mail carrier, and in this way the people engaged in rural industries are given timely warning of weather disturbances, from which they might otherwise suffer great loss. This information is furnished to the people of the United States of America without a penny additional cost.

Senator Rae - The honorable senator refers to the distribution of the information.

Senator LYNCH - Yes; the collection of the information is the work of the Weather Bureau, on which the United States Government expends £[200,000 a year, as against an expenditure of £[15,000 -in the Commonwealth for the same purpose. I have moved in this direction in the past, and the Senate approved of a motion on the subject which I submitted. I hope that some effort will be made to exploit the Post and Telegraph Department in the interests of persons at isolated fishing stations and of all engaged in rural industries in the Commonwealth. I notice a vote on the Estimates to cover expenses of members attending the Imperial Conference. We have had no statement as to the business to be discussed there, but I wish to refer to a matter which, I think, is worthy of consideration at the Conference, and is closely connected with meteorological work. I hope that, at that Conference, some attention will be given to the advisability of broadening the basis of meteorological observation in the southern seas in order that we may have the advantage of seasonal forecasts. From articles which I have read in magazines, and from information supplied to me by persons possessing meteorological experience whom 1 have consulted, I am led to believe that it would be wise to make an effort to establish meteorological stations at, for instance, Kerguelen Island, the new land lately discovered in the south, and at other places which might be determined upon in the Antarctic Ocean. If by this means we might obtain seasonal forecasts, it would be of the greatest advantage, not only to -Australia, but to New Zealand and possibly South Africa, and to the shipping trading to those countries.

Senator Millen - The weight of authorities is against the possibility of such forecasts.

Senator LYNCH - There is some scientific opinion in favour of the statement that, with the information which could be supplied from stations in the Antarctic Ocean, it would be possible to issue reliable seasonal forecasts. I make the suggestion as one worthy of consideration at the Imperial Conference, and I am satisfied that manysubjects will be dealt with at the Conference, the discussion of which will not be nearly so valuable to the people of Australia.

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