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Thursday, 7 July 1904

Mr SPEAKER - Order. Will the honorable and learned member resume his seat? I have again to call attention to the fact that there are many conversations being carried on in the chamber. I would ask honorable members either to refrain from conversing with each other, or to converse in such a tone that the honorable and learned member will not be interrupted.

Sir JOHN QUICK - The power to deal with trade and commerce is re-inforced by sub-section xviii., so that in matters of export, as well as of import, we may pass laws providing that goods, wares, and merchandise shall be properly marked in some way or other for the guidance of importers and purchasers. Sub-section xxix., relating to external affairs, gives the Commonwealth authority not only to deal with trade and commerce and other matters within its own territorial limits, so to speak, but to provide for the representation of Australian commercial interests in all parts of the world, by means of agencies, if necessary. So much for the general legislative authority over matters relating to trade and commerce, production, and kindred subjects. We find that the financial power of the Parliament is unlimited under section 81, because wemay make appropriations for the purposes of the Commonwealth in any manner that we think fit. It is in that power of appropriation that I think we shall find embedded the greatest degree of constitutional authority to enable us to grapple and deal with this subject.

Mr Glynn - Would not that power be limited by section 51 ?

Sir JOHN QUICK - No; the power of appropriation is unlimited under section 81.

Mr Glynn - I know that it has been said that it is, but I have some doubts as to whether that is so.

Sir JOHN QUICK - I do not think it is limited. The power of appropriation is unlimited with reference to the purposes of the Commonwealth; that is to say, the Parliament may make an appropriation for any purpose that may be contemplated as necessary for the interests and advancement of the Commonwealth.

Mr Glynn - Hear, hear; that is so.

Sir JOHN QUICK - It has been held that under the appropriating power vested in Congress by the Constitution of the United States, Congress may grant money for any purpose that may be deemed necessary for . the peace, welfare, and good government of the Federation. The Department of Agriculture, which during the last few years has grown up in the United States, and constitutes the most prominent feature of the political and industrial organization of that country, has attained its present positio 1 and been vindicated through the appropriating power of Congress. Under that power Congress has of late years passed appropriations amounting to over $1,000,000 a year to promote the advancement and encourage the development of industries generally throughout the United States - to promote internal trade as well as trade with countries beyond the seas. In this Department we find the model upon which we ought to lay the foundations of a national Department of Agriculture in Australia. I do not say that we should start the Department on the magnificent and gigantic lines of that which exists in the United States. It may be- wise to begin within moderate and modest dimensions, sufficient, probably, to give a direction to this great movement which, sooner or later, is bound to demand and arrest the attention of public men in Australia. It has been said by competent authorities that the Department of Agriculture in the United States is the best organized and the most practically conducted institution existing in any part of the world, and that it has been a most potent factor in developing every branch of agricultural industry throughout the States. It has added immensely to the wealth and the prosperity of the country. With a capable working head, it is conducted in a number of separate bureaux or branches, and each branch is charged with the duty' of attending to a certain specific subject relating to agriculture. To give honorable members an idea of the magnitude of the Department, I may summarize the various branches, showing its wide range and its practical nature. There is, first. of all, the Bureau of Animal Industry ; then come the divisions of chemistry, of forestry, of entomology, of botany, of soils, of seeds, of agrostology, of biological survey, of statistics, of publications, of dairying, and of experimental stations. Finally, there is the section of foreign markets. I have been informed by competent authorities - Australians who have investigated this Department on the spot, and who may be regarded as experts - that the section of foreign markets alone is a most valuable and useful adjunct to the Department. It makes investigations and disseminates information concerning the possibility or feasibility of extending the demands of foreign markets for the agricultural products of the United States. It is said that the section is carried on in the most effective manner, and is of great assistance to the trade of the United States. Mr. J. M. Sinclair, who was for some time the representative of the Victorian Department of Agriculture in London, paid several visits to America in order to study the Agricultural Department, and in a letter addressed to me upon this subject, and having reference to my motion, the following passage occurs: -

At the time of my last visit to. Washington in July, 19.01, as one of the representatives of the Victorian Department of Agriculture, I .found that representatives of the American Department who were travelling in the East, had forwarded a report to the Central Department, in which all products sent from other countries to the principal ports of China and Japan were dealt with, together with samples and prices of them. The prices of Australian flour, butter, canned meats, fruits, &c, were given, with information relating to freights, packages, distribution, extent of trade, and its possibilities; and these reports were 'furnished as a guide to American exporters.

Mr. Sinclairgoes on to say that he not only found that the Department of Agriculture for the United States had representatives in China, Japan, and the East, but also that it had representatives in Great Britain and foreign centres ; and that from these representatives reports were received by the foreign markets section, which dealt with the subjects investigated, so that exporters in the United States, upon application, could receive information which would be of value to them in connexion with their over-sea trade. I said that I did not propose that we should establish a Department of Agriculture of such magnitude or extent as the Department of the United States.

Mr Batchelor - Have the separate.States in America their Agricultural Departments ?

Sir JOHN QUICK - They have no such Departments as exist in the Australian States. The States Departments have been largely absorbed by the Central Department, but the States have their experimental stations and their local . experimental organizations. They have nothing to do with agriculture, however, so far as it relates to Inter-State and foreign trade. I will briefly sketch the plan which I suggest for the consideration of Ministers as an outline for an Agricultural Department for Australia. Ii is not feasible to launch a Department on such a large scale as that of the United States, but we may begin in a more limited manner. The first division which I propose would be the division of animal industry, dealing with the importation and exportation of animals and animal products. The second division would be the division of the fruit and plant industry, dealing with the export of fruit and plant life and the importation of plants. Thirdly, there would be the division of original scientific research; and fourthly, the division of foreign markets and intelligence. Those are the four branches of this subject to which I invite the attention of honorable members. It will be seen that these four subjects are clearly and undeniably within our authority. I desire, in making these suggestions, to offer one preliminary observation; and it is this. I do not in any way propose to interfere with legitimate State activities. I do not wish to impair the usefulness of Departments of Agriculture as constituted in the States dealing purely with State agriculture. I do not wish to make any suggestion that would alarm the States, or induce them to entertain the idea that we were encroaching upon matters which are purely local or purely Inter-State. But I desire that the dormant Federal power shall be brought into action, and that that power should be so utilized as to constitute a Federal organization of agriculture, forming, as it were, the crown and apex of the agricultural organization of Australia. We may have a graduated system of agricultural organization beginning with, say, the local village society. Next we shall have the town agricultural society; the next higher grade would be the district agricultural society ; still higher would be the State agricultural society; then would come the State Agricultural Department. But presiding over all these various organizations, cooperating with and assisting them, but not supplanting or in any way interfering with them, I would have a national Department of Agriculture, in constant communication with these various State organizations, agencies, and instrumentalities, advising them, and whenever occasion arose, being available for the purpose of carrying out suggestions or' hints received from them, having in view the promotion of the interests of agriculture generally. I only wish this Department to preside over InterState trade so far as it relates to agriculture, and oversea trade and commerce so far as relates to the development of agriculture. I think that within those limits, and within the limits of the Constitution, a large amount of useful work may be done without in any way interfering with any of the State instrumentalities. The national Department would constitute, as it were, a new agency, and a new power that would add largely to the promotion and development of our agricultural industries. In the export trade alone I consider that a vast amount of good may be done in the supervision of the export of our primary products; and in undertaking that work we should not in any way be interfering with any State activity or authority.

Mr Batchelor - -Some of the States do that now.

Sir JOHN QUICK - They do it in a sort of way. But I venture to observe, without saying anything that would affect State sensitiveness, that I think the work in many instances is not being done in a manner that is entirely satisfactory-

Mr Page - It is absolutely rotten.

Sir JOHN QUICK - It may no doubt be capable of improvement.

Mr Batchelor - In the case of some of the States, that is true.

Sir JOHN QUICK - From information I have received in correspondence, as well as from information recently published in the press, and from the revelations now being made in Victoria, it appears to be high time for the

Federal authorities to interfere and undertake the supervision and control of our export trade. It is all very well for the States Governments and authorities to say that this is a matter of interest to the States only. That, I deny; the export trade is a matter in which the whole of Australia is interested. No State has a right to monopolize control of the export trade or to carry on that trade in a manner which will probably lead to an ill-reputation being attached to pur exports.

Mr Isaacs - No State has yet attempted to exercise such a power.

Sir JOHN QUICK - That is because the States have not the power to make uniform laws and regulations, or to provide for uniform administration. I have it on distinct authority that not only from Victoria, but from other Australian States, a great deal of butter has of late years been shipped to the United Kingdom under the sanction and patronage of States certificates and stamps, and that that butter, on arrival in the old country, has been found" to be of inferior quality.

Mr Mcwilliams - Does the honorable and learned member think that a Federal brand will be any better than the States brands?

Sir JOHN QUICK - That exportation of inferior butter has had the effect of bringing Australian butter into ill-repute in the European markets.' What is the cause? The cause is the lack of proper and uniform supervision and inspection on the part of the States authorities.

Mr Kennedy - That is not the cause; the cause is the objection that was raised by the alleged representatives of the dairymen, who opposed legislation designed to deal properly with the question.

Sir JOHN QUICK -It is to be hoped that their eyes have been opened to their want of foresight and want of consideration and regard for their own interests. It is of no use to say that regulations for the inspection and certification for the purpose of export are irksome. It has been found in the United States that the regulations for the export of produce are worth all the trouble and expense they may involve. Those regulations have provided a guarantee of the good quality of exports from the United States. I have it on the authority of experts who have seen the products of the United States in the markets of London that wherever the stamp of the United States Department of Agriculture is seen, whether on meat or other produce, it is accepted as a guarantee of quality. But I regret to say that has not been so in the case of exports from Victoria and other Australian States. A large quantity of exports from the Australian States which bear the words " approved for export," have, on arrival in the London market, been found to be inferior, and, in some, cases, unfit for human consumption. I shall give a few examples. A short time ago, an effort was made to promote the export of fruit pulp from Victoria, and, to that end, the Government of the State offered a bonus.

Mr Mcwilliams - That is what killed the export trade.

Sir JOHN QUICK - I shall not say anything about bonuses at the present stage ; I am not advocating bonuses in connexion with this question, but merely desire to regard the matter as purely one of govern- mental regulation. A large quantity of fiuit pulp was exported from Victoria under the sanction of the Government Inspectors, but before it arrived in London it was found to be in a state of putrefaction - absolutely unfit for human consumption. A quantity of raspberry pulp, amounting to 40 tons, was, on arrival in London, found to be in a state of fermentation ; in fact, the fermentation had the effect of bursting the tins within which the pulp had been packed, and the stuff had to be taken out to sea and destroyed. What was the cause of that?

Mr Mcwilliams - The bonus.

Sir JOHN QUICK - I hope the member for Franklin will not keep harping on bonuses ; they have nothing to do with this question. This fruit pulp had evidently been packed and canned in a sort of way, but evidently by persons entirely ignorant of their business. Yet it was sent away, bearing the Government stamp, to meet with its inevitable fate of decay and destruction. Some time ago it was found that on one of the great steamers engaged in our export trade, a quantity of tinned rabbits bad gone bad on the voyage, indeed, they had gone so bad that the passengers made the discovery. A search had to be made, and the putrid rabbits had to be hauled from the hold and thrown overboard. I am informed that that was a disaster which might have been prevented if the packing had been carried on under proper inspection and supervision. Then as to meat, I am informed that many cases of carcases of Victorian and New South Wales beef and mutton, exported under State sanction, and bearing the Government stamp, have, on arrival in London, been seized by the sanitary inspectors and condemned.

Mr Skene - The meat may have been good when it was shipped.

Sir JOHN QUICK - It may have been good when it was shipped, but evidently it was not properly preserved.

Mr Skene - The machinery may have gone wrong.

Sir JOHN QUICK - But steps ought to have been taken to prevent that meat being placed on the London market.

Mr Skene - That is true.

Sir JOHN QUICK - The result was. as I have been informed by an official who was in London at the time, that the news, of this importation of bad, beef and mutton spread throughout London and the provinces; and when my informant went into the country in search of orders for Vic torian meat, he was told by butchers that a large quantity which had arrived from that State was not fit to be placed in the first-class shops. As to frozen rabbits, I have been informed of large losses which have occurred through want of proper supervision. Improperly preserved rabbits have been sent from Australia, and have been carried under improper conditions, with the result that" they arrived in London in a rotten condition to the great -injury and deterioration of Australian trade. I shall now give a few illustrations in reference to the fruit-growing industry. When I first brought this subject before the House I received a letter from Mr. James Brewer, of Burwood-, who is a prominent member of the Fruit-growers' Association of Victoria. He informed me that he was particularly interested in the matter, because, owing to the carelessness of the company, he lost over£300 by a shipment of fruit sent from Victoria by the Orizaba. He enclosed me an extract from a paper which he had read before the Farmers' Agricultural Convention, at Colac. In that paper he referred to. some of the difficulties which had been encountered by Australian fruitgrowers in exporting their fruit, and pointed out the manner in which Govern ment supervision and assistance would benefit them. The following passage is so interesting that I think I am justified in read ing it to the House: -

In our oversea trade the positionbecomes intensified, for we are completely at the mercy of the carrying companies, who take no risk, and often not ordinary care, white we, on our part, have to pay an exorbitant rate of freight, and pay it before any of our produce is shipped. We have also to make our freight engagements some three months before our season begins, and deposit half Hie freight. If, from any cause, we do not fill the space we have engaged, we have to pay dead freight; but if the ship. happens to be full- before our freight is put in, it is left behind, and we have no redress. In. the face of this one-sided agreement, wc might reasonably expect that our fruit would receive fair treatment after it was slowed in the ships' chambers, and yet the way in which the mail companies have landed some of their cargoes this season is simply disgraceful, and reveals gross carelessness on the part either of the companies or their officers.

He went on to point out the losses Which have occurred in connexion with the export of fruit. It may be asked : What have the Federal Government to do with .'this matter? My reply is that they have a right to look after the export trade in every reasonable and legitimate way in order to encourage the development of Australian industry. The Federal authority has the right to do here what the Department of Agriculture is doing in the United States. That Department looks after the steamers which offer themselves for the carriage of produce. It supervises the steamers engaged in the export trade of the United States, and will not allow every steamer to participate in that trade. Steamers engaging in the trade must comply with certain conditions and requirements. The Department say, " You are carrying our produce, and if it is not properly carried, because of the defects in your accommodation, so that it arrives in the European market in an inferior condition, we suffer. Therefore, we have a right to supervise your arrangements, and to dictate the terms under which our fruit, our meat, and our other produce shall be carried." The matter is one which should not be left to private enterprise. What can the farmers or fruit-growers in the country districts do to bring influence, to bear upon the great carrying companies which supply accommodation for the export of their produce? Individually, they cannot take effective action. They must, therefore, rely upon their organizations. They may bring pressure to bear upon the local agricultural societies, and these in their turn may bring pressure to bear upon the State Department, which may make representations to the Federal authority. The State Department, however, cannot take the comprehensive grasp of the situation which the Federal authority is in the position to take. The Federal authority can enter into a collective bargain on behalf of the fruitgrowers and other producers with the great carrying companies, like the P. and

O.   and the Orient, trading to Australian ports, and it is one of its legitimate functions to do so. .It could, I apprehend, make better terms with those companies than the- State Department could make, and much better terms than an agricultural society could make. The time has arrived - and, indeed, a golden opportunity now exists - to show what can be done under our new Federal system of Government for the benefit of the producers of Australia. It is well known that at the present time the Government are negotiating with the steam-ship companies in respect to the carriage of mails. Last year I introduced to the then Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, a deputation representing the Fruit-growers' . Association of . Victoria. They brought under his notice the fact that the mail contracts were about to expire, and that there was, therefore, a suitable' opportunity to make terms with the P. and 0., the Orient, and. similar companies, for the carriage of fruit and farm and dairyproduce, as well as the mails. It may be asked, " What has the carriage of mails to do with the carriage of farm and dairyproduce, and of fruit?" There is this connexion. Where one is making a big contract with a company, it is possible to bargain and negotiate for advantages apart from the immediate object in view. It is possible .for the Government to say to the shipping companies, " We are ready to give you a big mail contract - what can you do in return in providing suitable accommodation for the carriage of fruit and other perishable produce?" I do not say that the carriage of such produce is inextricably connected with the carriage of mails, and I do not wish to saddle the Postal Department with any additional expense which might be caused by requiring the shipping companies to provide better accommodation for the carriage' of perishable produce ; but the companies might well be invited to submit with their tenders for the carriage of mails particulars as to the accommodation they are willing to provide for the carriage of perishable produce, the cost of the mail service being kept clear and distinct, for bookkeeping purposes, from the cost of the other service. A company which obtains a subsidy of ^100.000 or more for the carriage of mails ought to be in a position to provide more accommodation for the carriage of perishable produce, and to give better terms, than a company which does not enjoy that subvention, and cannot anticipate the same ' regular volume of trade for a definite period in advance.

Mr Deakin - There is first the opportunity,, and next, the opportunity with a swift and regular service.

Sir JOHN QUICK - The regularity and swiftness of the service are of the utmost importance. It will be a distinct advantage to connect the export of perishable produce with the mail service. Sir Edmund Barton gave a most favorable and emphatic reply to the deputation to which I have referred, and, after a consultation with the Postmaster-General of the day, he decided to ask tenderers for the mail contract to give particulars as to the accommodation which they could supply for the carriage of perishable produce, and the cost of such accommodation.

Mr Mahon - He made it compulsory. He joined the two conditions together.

Sir JOHN QUICK - That may be, but I do not think that the effect was to prejudice the tendering. It was reported in1 the Sydney Daily Telegraph that Mr. Anderson, who represents the Orient Company in Sydney, stated that the condition requiring Brisbane to be made a port of call, and the arrangements for the carriage of perishable produce, did not increase the price of the tenders, nor add to the difficulties of the tenderers.

Mr Mahon - He said white labour did not.

Mr Batchelor - Nor perishable products.

Sir JOHN QUICK - He also referred to perishable products, but whether it does or not is not material to this question. This Parliament has a right to insist that any conditions it pleases shall be attached to a mail contract. We have a right to say that a certain industry is of sufficient importance to warrant us in providing facilities for its external development. We can never hope to add to our external development unless we make provision for the expansion of our export trade. We can never have expansion of our export trade unless we provide proper facilities in the shape of over-sea carriage. I 'contend that it is a legitimate function of Government, and of the .Federal Government in particular, to take this question in hand. We should not leave it to the States Governments, because the Federal Government can make the better bargain.

Mr Deakin - The States Governments can co-operate.

Sir JOHN QUICK - Of course they can co-operate, and they can be consulted. I know, as a matter of fact, that there is no antagonism on the part of the States Departments to this proposal. Thev have practically agreed to ask the Federal Government to undertake this business. I have in my hand absolute proof and demonstration of that. I have here a memorandum of a Conference of States Ministers of Agriculture, held on 28th July, 1903, comprising the Honorable J. W. Taverner, Minister of Lands and Agriculture, Victoria, and the Honorable John Kidd, Minister of Mines and Agriculture, New South Wales. A telegram was received from Mr. Butler, Minister of Agriculture of South Australia, expressing regret at not being able to be present, and stating that he was in full sympathy with the objects of the Conference. The object of the Conference was to consider the terms, conditions, and . accommodation in- connexion with the export trade; and first, in reference to butter, this resolution was carried -

That it is desirable, in the interest of the dairying industry of Australia, that butter, for export should be carried by shipping companies on their vessels at a temperature not exceeding 20 degrees Fahr.

With reference to that resolution, there is abundant authority to be found -in the official papers, as well as in the newspapers from time to time, that a great deal of the joss of butter that has arisen in transport has been due to the variation of temperature in the cool chambers of the vessels. What is wanted is uniformity and regularity of temperature, and we have crystallized, so to speak, the result of years of experience, in this resolution, placed on record by the States Ministers of Agriculture. The second resolution carried was -

It is desirable that self-registering thermometers be placed in the cold storage chambers on board such vessels.

These self-registering thermometers, are insisted upon as necessary to prevent neglect in securing regularity of temperature on board the steamers during the voyage. It is but fit and that the Government should have the necessary evidence to prove neglect of this kind. The next resolution was -

That butter for export should be delivered to the shipping companies at a temperature not ex.ceeding 32 degrees Fahr.

Those are three resolutions with reference to butter, and the memorandum to which

I refer gives also a series of resolutions dealing with the carriage of fruit. The first is -

(a)   That it is desirable, in the interest of the fruit industry of Australia, that fruit for export should be carried by the shipping companies on their vessels at a temperature not exceeding 40 degrees Fahr., or below 34 degrees; with humidity between 75 and So per cent., and ventilation equal to double the cubic contents of the chambers daily.

(b)   That self-recording appliances be placed in the chambers of ships carrying fruit, for the purpose of indicating temperature, humidity, and ventilation during transit.

(c)   That fruit for export should be delivered to the shipping companies cooled to a temperature not exceeding 45 degrees Fahr.

I now come to the material part of (hese resolutions, to which I desire to invite the special attention of honorable members as showing that the States Departments invite Federal co-operation.

That resolutions Nos. 1 (a) and 1 (b), and 2 (a) and 2 (b) - those are the resolutions relating to the export of butter and fruit - be presented to the Federal Government through the Premiers of the States of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania.

Those resolutions have been presented to the Federal Government. They were in the possession of Sir Edmund Barton when he received the deputation of fruit-growers, and he was in a position to say that in any action he ' was invited to take he would not be running counter to any State authority, and that he would not be taking the wind out of their sails by taking the initiative in a matter in which the whole of Australia interested, and in which he had the hearty good-will and co-operation of the States Governments. I therefore specially urge upon the present Government that in dealing with this question of the mail contract, which is a matter likely to demand executive decision sooner . than will the establishment of a Department of Agriculture, they should take' some action of a definite character in accordance with the resolutions of the Conference to which I have referred. I hope that they will negotiate with the large shipping companies now that they have the opportunity,in a business-like manner, and will insist upon those companies making provision for the carriage of perishable products at reasonable rates. Above all, I desire that something should be done to hold these companies liable, to those who pay them for the transport of ' their perishable products, for any loss arising from provable negligence on their part.

Under existing arrangements, as pointed out by Mr. Brewer in his letter to me, whilst the shipping companies will take these perishable products, and will accept substantial remuneration for their carriage, they will not allow any representative of the exporters to accompany the consignments, to supervise, the cold storage chambers and advise, if necessary, as to the manner in which they should be regulated. They take the whole matter into their own hands,, and I am told they will not- allow any one to go below even to peep at the cold storage chambers. It is a matter of great difficulty even for a Minister of the Crown to gain access to them. Notwithstanding this exclusiveness and this dictatorial attitude which they assume, they claim absolute immunity from any liability, though the whole cargo may be destroyed through the provable negligence of their officers. They will not even refund the freight. These matters are differently conducted in New Zealand. I find that in that Colony decisive action has been taken in the interests of the producers. Mr. Seddon knows how to work these things. He is not the man to allow the companies to dictate terms to the producers of New Zealand. In a valuable paper which he read at Kyneton recently, Mr. Crowe, making reference to New Zealand, writes as follows: -

The butter was carried at 25 degrees for¾d. per lb., and the shipping companies collected the cargo at the several shipping ports. He believed' the next contract would be at½d. per lb. Moreover, they have a system of making the shipping companies liable for damage sustained to produce in transit.

That is a most important matter.

Mr Groom - Does he state that that is done under a statute law?

Sir JOHN QUICK - No ; under a contract. In New Zealand, apparently, they say to the shipping companies, "We ask you to enter into this contract; we guarantee regularlv a certain volume of trade. We make arrangements to give you a certain amount of wo'rk if you will do it on our terms. We will pay you so much, but we shall not allow you to run things according to your own sweet will. You must conduct the business under the conditions we impose, and if any produce is lost, you will have to pay for it." That is only equitable. It is a subject of grievous complaint on the part of the fruit growers of Australia that, notwithstanding the high prices they are charged by shipping companies, they are treated with the utmost contempt when they ask for compensation for ruined or damaged fruit.

Mr McColl - No care, and no responsibility.

Sir JOHN QUICK - That is so. I have said sufficient on the subject of the export of fruit and live stock. I should now like to say a few words with reference to another arena, in which there might be judicious, and I think useful Federal activity. I refer to the imports of live stock into Australia, and the encouragement of the development of the live stock industry in Australia. There can be no doubt that the Federal authority has full and, if necessary, exclusive power to deal with the importation of live stock. This is a most important power. It is impossible to overstate its importance.

Mr Fisher - The Quarantine Conference now sitting is examining that ques- tion.

Sir JOHN QUICK - I am very glad to hear it. I think the time has come when the Federal Government must take over the question of quai an tine, not only with reference to human beings, but with reference also to other animal life.

Mr Fisher - That question is now being considered.

Sir JOHN QUICK - That would necessarily form a part of the duties of the Federal Department of Agriculture, under the heading of animal industry. As the question is now being considered, I shall not dwell upon it at length ; but I do say, that unless there be some uniformity in the laws, regulations, and administration affecting the importation of animal as well as plant life into Australia, the time may come when a di-' versity of laws may lead to the importation of the most dangerous plagues, scourges, and diseases, working infinite ruin and calamity to the flocks and herds of Australia. It does seem absurd that when we are federated, and have a uniform Tariff, we should not have a uniform law of quarantine, affecting dumb animals, as well as human beings. I am told by a medical authority that the same principles of quarantine apply to both classes- of animal life. It is of the utmost importance that this question should be taken in hand, and .that there should not, in Australia,, be halfadozen different laws dealing with the subject. One of the most prominent defects and imperfections of existing arrangements for the supervision of the importation of live stock, is that we have no staff of scientific men to deal with the question. I am informed that the States have for the most part laymen in charge of this department.

Mr Kennedy - They have good men, as good as can be found.

Sir JOHN QUICK - I desire to say nothing against them as laymen and practical men, but the. contention is that there should be some scientific men in charge of this Department. As illustrating the necessity which exists for some scientific provision being made in this direction, I would point to the recent outbreak of swine fever . in Australia. Perhaps honorable members would like to be reminded of some of the circumstances connected with that outbreak.

Mr Kennedy - There, the mistake which the Government made was in placing it under the control of scientists.

Sir JOHN QUICK - I do not know that scientists have had control of it up to the present time.

Mr Kennedy - In Victoria, the outbreak was placed under the control of the best veterinary surgeon in Australia.

Sir JOHN QUICK - I should like to ask the honorable member whether it was placed under the control of the best veterinary surgeon in New South Wales?

Mr Kennedy - The Victorian outbreak was under the supervision of the best veterinary surgeon in Australia.

Sir JOHN QUICK - I have been informed that swine fever existed in New South Wales for a long time before it was discovered. What is the explanation of that? I do not say that the knowledge was deliberately suppressed, but the fact remains that it was not made known. This fever continued to develop unchecked over a long period, and was actually diagnosed in Victoria and Queensland, and traced io New South Wales sources before any information was received from that State as to its existence there. It had then begun to spread all over Australia.

Mr Webster - ^1 do not think that its existence was known to the New South Wales authorities.

Sir JOHN QUICK - Then they must have been very ignorant, and incapable of dealing with the disease. When it was diagnosed in Victoria it was soon placed under scientific control and proper veterinary inspection.

Mr Willis - In New South Wales it did not extend beyond the county of Cumberland.

Sir JOHN QUICK - It is a pity that it ever originated there, and that when it did it was not immediately localized. I have it on scientific authority that if the infected area had been quarantined, and the disease had been vigorously attacked, it need never have extended beyond that area. But, instead of localizing it and then grappling with it, the authorities jumped to the conclusion that the only remedy for the outbreak was to be found in the stoppage of Inter-State trade. Accordingly an embargo was placed upon the frontier, under which no stock were allowed to enter Victoria, New South Wales, or South Australia, even after the disease had spread all over the States. All authorities are agreed that after it has become well rooted in a country it is absurd to impose harassing conditions upon trade. The only way in which the disease can be suppressed is by localizing it, and then attacking it. These are matters which should- be dealt with by a central authority, which has the necessary time and opportunity to study them, and to advise the States Departments - not necessarily by taking the matters out of their hands, but by co-operating with them, and by securing the best information. If these precautions were adopted by a central authority, I believe that the live stock industry of Australia could be protected from infection by foreign diseases, and that, in course of time, some of the local diseases might be rooted out, or at least kept under control. I need scarcely point out the magnificent results which have .been achieved in the United States by the Federal Department of Agriculture in controlling diseases amongst live stock. The subject, however, is too big to enter upon in detail at this stage. Speaking generally, I may say that, as the result of scientific treatment on the part of that Department a few years ago on an outbreak of pleuropneumonia occurring, the disease was absolutely eradicated in the United States. ' It is true that the cost involved was ,£370,000, but the action taken by the Department was so effective that it resulted in the saving of millions of pounds' worth of live stock, and consequently the money was well spent. In i860 a similar outbreak occurred in Victoria. It raged with great severity for twelve years, during which period the value of the live stock which succumbed to it represented nearly ten millions sterling.

Mr McLean - It is not stamped out yet.

Sir JOHN QUICK - No, it still exists.

Mr Kennedy - It always will exist.

Sir JOHN QUICK - Not necessarily. Surely the limits of science are not so narrow as that. If the disease has been stamped out in the United States, why can it not be stamped out here?

Mr Kennedy - Practically it has been.

Sir JOHN QUICK - Has it been stamped out in New South Wales?

Mr Kennedy - Practically it has.

Sir JOHN QUICK - I am informed that it has not. I- say that the organization and appliances necessary to attack this disease should always be in existence. In Queensland in the early nineties the losses in live stock aggregated an almost fabulous sum - nearly ^600,000 annually for a number of years. These diseases should be controlled by a centralauthority. They ought not to be dealt with by the States, under different systems, different regulations, and different sets of officers. We ought to establish a central Department, manned by the best official's whose services money can procure, for the protection of our live stock. Probably the operations of some of these officials would come within the scope of the division which I outlined as the division of original scientific research. As an essential part of a National Department of Agriculture, I think that we .should have a central scientific stronghold, so to speak, where the most able scientific men available should always be at work studying Australian problems relating to live stock and perishable products. There is a vast amount of labour to be done in connexion with the preservation of perishable products. In itself it is a very big subject, the full discussion of which would occupy hours. I merely throw out the suggestion and invite the representatives of farming constituencies to deal with it during the course of this 'debate. In this connexion I have received a most valuable memorandum from Mr. S. W. Wallace, the Director of Agriculture in Victoria, who, in conjunction with Mr. R. Crowe, manager of the Government Cool Stores, and Dr. A. A. Brown, Inspector of Food for Export, and Dr. S. S. Cameron, M.R.C.V.S., has contributed a mass of useful information upon this subject. From what they tell me, I believe that science is upon the eve of the discovery of methods which will enable us to pack' and store our- perishable products in a safe and efficient manner, to transport them over long distances, and to land them at their, destination in a condition that will not impair either their value or utility as articles of human consumption. That is a great and most important question. It is true that cool storage has made vast strides during recent years, and that it has enabled Australia to obtain a large slice of the meat market of the old world. But much work yet remains to be done. There are still fields for investigation and discovery. Cool storage does not supply the only means of preserving perishable products. Certain results which have been achieved by Dr. Brown seem to justify the belief that there are certain chemical methods by which fruit can be preserved for long periods, such for example as by being exposed to certain chemical fumes, such as hydrocyanic acid gas, and then being packed in hermetically sealed chambers ; this method prevents decomposition. I merely mention this in order to outline the possibilities of the work which may be accomplished by a division of scientific research and investigation. Some time ago I suggested, in this House, that a reward of,, say, .£5,000 should be offered by Australia to the whole world for the discovery of " some new method of preserving our perishable products. If such a reward were offered by a National Department of Agriculture, it would provide an, incentive to all the scientists of the globe to attack this vast and important problem, just as .they did the question of horse diseases in South Africa, until a great German scientist discovered a method for ameliorating their terrible effects. If Australia desires to obtain the best scientific expedients, why should it not offer some inducement to the scientists of the world? There are undiscovered fields of science. Indeed, we live in an age of science. We cannot carry on trade and commerce without its aid. I say, therefore, that scientists should be invited to discover some method that is even superior to the cool storage system. Chemistry is a potent agent in this connexion; light is another. Indeed it may be that in some of the new forms of light" which have recently been discovered the great .secret of the preservation of perishable products will yet be found. Then let lis hold out every inducement to the scientists of the world fo dis cover something that will add millions of money to our Australian trade from year to year, that will increase our production, and impel the men upon the soil to develop its resources. Let honorable members reflect upon the labour which such a discovery would unlock to the working classes of Australia. The more the resources of the soil are developed, the more is the field of production expanded, and the better is it for the workers of the Commonwealth. The more wealth we gain from the soil the more wages will there be for distribution among the working classes. Consequently I invite this Labour Ministry to take the question in hand. Amid the storm and stress occasioned by discussion upon Arbitration Bills, I ask them to bestow some attention upon the development of Australia, with a view to provide employment for the working classes, seeing that we must recognise that labour will be enhanced by the opening up of any new field of industry. In that direction, therefore, the Min,istry can accomplish some good. I. have reason to believe that this subject is regarded sympathetically by the present Government, and I can assure them that if they grapple with it in a statesmanlike, practical manner, they will receive my support, as I feel sure they will that of every other member of this House.-

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