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Friday, 26 July 1912

Senator RAE (New South Wales) . - I have not the intimate acquaintance with Mr. Clarke that Senator Millen claims to have had, but I wish to put a point of view before the Senate. I have known instances of men who were brought up in the Old Country as weavers, or in other factory occupations, and had absolutely no practical, theoretical, or scientific knowledge of agriculture, making shining successes in a new country where fanners from the Old Country, who had come out equipped with a lot of European or British knowledge, made rank failures, because they did not know anything about local conditions.

Senator Millen - Would you have an untrained man to teach others?

Senator RAE - I am not saying so. If Mr. Clarke possesses the kind of knowledge which is referred to, I admit, in somewhat general, but very warm terms by the Scotch Commissioners, he, while his knowledge may not be indicated by the possession of diplomas, evidently possesses a fund of information which will be exceedingly useful in the position which he has undertaken to fill. Whether he will be a success or not can only be proved by time.- It was purely a partisan act to condemn such an appointment because the man may never have been behind a plough. Would Senator Millen expect Mr. Clarke, in the position he is occupying, to show his practical acquaintance with the sheep-breeding industry by shearing sheep or classing wool ; or would he expect him to show his knowledge of agriculture by following the plough? The line of argument pursued by the honorable senator will not bear analysis, and his assertion was evidently made for party purposes. I think that what Senator McDougall has read goes to show that Mr. Clarke is held in the highest esteem by persons who are recognised as about the hardest-headed and shrewdest men in the world concerning agriculture, Scottish farmers, who are not wedded to the mere office man, but who would appreciate knowledge of a practical character, which Mr. Clarke evidently was able to afford them. To win such whole-hearted praise when no one else was referred to by them is very high testimony to the ability of Mr. Clarke.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 3.5 p.m.

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