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Thursday, 21 June 1906

Senator GIVENS (Queensland) - - I should like to ask the Minister whom it is contemplated to appoint as Government Meteorologist.

Senator Keating - I do not know ; I have no information on the subject.

Senator GIVENS - It is freely stated outside that it is intended to import some gentleman for this particular position.

Senator Fraser - We want the best man science. can produce.

Senator Keating - I have seen some as- tonishing statements in the press of Western Australia that are absolutely foundationless.

Senator GIVENS - I do not. know what foundation there mav or may not be, but the statement I have indicated is continually appearing. Sp far as I can see, Mr. Wragge, whose name has been currently mentioned here, is the very best man.

Senator Millen - Just now Mr. Wragge would have to be imported.

Senator GIVENS - I think Mr. Wragge has been long enough in Australia to rank as an Australian.

Senator Millen - But Mr. Wragge is not in Australia now.

Senator GIVENS - If Senator Millen were on a steamer at one of the islands off Australia, he would not regard himself as an importation if he were brought back again. Although there is at present a protectionist Government in power, the members of that Government seem to be suffering from the importing disease just as badly as anybody else. They think that nothing produced in Australia is good, and they would go outside for all they require. Australians have proved themselves good men in many of the scientific walks of life, but they are denied the opportunity to prove their ability and capacity in this country, and have to go elsewhere to win their name. These men, when the opportunity presents itself, are given the gobye, while the Government look abroad, as if there was some special qualification in an official who was imported. I move -

That the following words be added : - " Provided that the Government Meteorologist so appointed shall have been a resident in Australia for a period of at least five years."

Last year, when the Papua Bill was before us, we were frequently assured by the Government that an Australian would be appointed to administer the Territory in accordance with Australian) sentiment and ideas. It is an open secret now that the Government have no such intention, but propose to go abroad for an Administrator.

Senator Keating - It may be an open secret to the honorable senator.

Senator Playford - The Government do not know anything about the matter.

Senator GIVENS - The Government probably do mot know their own minds yet - they may not have, come to a final decision.

Senator Keating - The honorable senator seems to know the mind of the Government.

Senator GIVENS - I know what is current knowledge amongst those who are more in the way of ascertaining Government secrets than I am. I know nothing of my own knowledge. I do know, however, that in the case of Papua the Government, in response to a generally expressed desire from all sides of the Chamber, assured us that an Australian, who possessed the necessary qualifications, should be given the position of Administrator. So far, we have seen no disposition to redeem that promise, and, if rumour be correct, there is no intention to redeem it. A promise implied is just as binding as an explicit promise. I want the positions at our disposal to be given to Australians, and the only way I can see to successfully accomplish that end is to so provide in the Bill. If we trust this or any Government we shall have a very poor chance of attaining our desire.

Senator Millen - But suppose that no one in Australia, who was suitable, would take the position?

Senator GIVENS - I ami not in the habit of supposing impossibilities, or of trying to legislate for impossible conditions.

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