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Wednesday, 29 August 1906

Mr SKENE (Grampians) .- The Minister of Trade and Customs spoke of somebody" having placed the cart before the horse, but, in my judgment, he fell into a somewhat similar error in his remarks concerning the establishment of a Federal Bureau of Agriculture. I understood him to say that the time might arrive when the detailed work of the States Departments of Agriculture should be taken over by the Commonwealth .

Sir William Lyne - No; I said that the time might come when the States would not desire to maintain their Departments of Agriculture on their present basis - that they might desire only to retain their experimental farms, and that the Commonwealth would then be justified in establishing a central bureau of agriculture.

Mr SKENE - Then I misunderstood the honorable gentleman. A good deal has been said as to the expense that would be incurred in establishing such a Department. If we established a central office, which would collect all the information obtainable from the States Departments, and{ make it readily available to the public, no great expense would be incurred. As far back as July, 1901, the honareble and learned member for Bendigo proposed that, in the opinion of the House, a Federal Bureau of Agriculture should be established.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - And the AttorneyGeneral very strongly supported that proposal.

Mr SKENE - That is so. I then held the view that I hold to-day - that the proposal could not be effectively carried out unless with the assistance of the States Departments of Agriculture. I moved an amendment in that direction, but, although five years have elapsed since that proposition was submitted, nothing has yet been done.

Sir John Quick - Although the motion was carried unanimously.

Mr SKENE - I thought that it disappeared from the business paper.

Sir John Quick - It was carried during the second session of the first Parliament.

Mr SKENE - And was not amended as I originally proposed. Very little expense would be incurred in establishing a central agricultural office in which all the information obtainable from the States , Departments would be focussed. If such a Department had been established, we should have had at our disposal to-day much information that would prove useful to us in dealing with this Bill. It would be well for the Minister to ascertain whether the works issued by the States Departments could not be collected by an expert and revised for Federal use.

Sir William Lyne - I propose to take action in that direction as soon as this Bill is passed.

Mr SKENE - I thought that the honorable gentleman considered that it would be necessary at the outset ' to establish a complete bureau of agriculture.

Sir William Lyne - Certainly not.

Mr SKENE - Then the Minister proposes to establish a central office which will collect all the information obtainable from the States Departments, and make it available to the public.

Sir William Lyne - The chances are that the States Departments will work in harmony with us, and practically take over the administration of the Bill.

Mr SKENE - I believe that they will; but I do not think that the States would agree to completely transfer their Departments of Agriculture to the Commonwealth.

Sir William Lyne - I do not propose that they should do so.

Mr SKENE - I am glad to have that statement from the Minister, for his speech conveyed to me the impression that he considered the Commonwealth should eventually take over the detailed work now carried out by those Departments.

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