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Wednesday, 5 October 1910
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Senator VARDON (South Australia) . - 1 do not intend to traverse the arguments of Senator Stewart, although the temptation to do so is very strong. I will only say that any man who professes to be an advocate of a progressive -tax upon land values, and couples that with high Protection, has the most insane ideas of taxation that I ever heard of. An opportunity will be afforded later to discuss these questions, and, therefore, I shall not occupy the time of the Senate in debating them this afternoon. I rise mainly to refer to one matter which has been brought under my notice un several occasions, and that is the difference in the salaries paid to responsible officers holding similar positions in the different States. It seems to me that men holding similar positions in New South Wales and Western Australia, or in any of the States, should be paid something like the same salaries for similar duties and responsibilities.

Senator Pearce - Sometimes the duties and responsibilities of officers holding similar positions in the different States are not equal.

Senator Fraser - In the smaller States the responsibilities and duties are likely to be less.

Senator VARDON - I say that, as a rule, officers having the same duties to perform, and charged with similar responsibilities, should be paid something like the same salaries. I have had several com- plaints made to me on the subject, and 1 have here some particulars of cases occurring in the Customs Department. I propose to give these particulars, and, per haps, the Vice-President of the Executive Council will be able to explain the reason for the differences shown in the following table : -


Senator Pearce - Does the honorable senator think there should be a new classification? Does he recommend that all should be brought up to the highest salary paid, or that all should be brought down to the lowest?

Senator VARDON - I think that the figures given show that there is some need for a new classification, and if all the officers are worth it, I should like to see all brought up to the highest salary paid in each case. Surely Ministers will not contend that there is so much difference in the work of the temporary clerks in theother States as compared with their work in South Australia as is indicated by the wages paid.

Senator de Largie - What were the wages paid prior to Federation?

Senator VARDON - I cannot go back over that. If the honorable senator's contention is that the wages paid prior to Federation are being continued, that is no justification for the differences which the figures disclose.

Senator de Largie - The wages paid prior to Federation were very much lower than those now paid.

Senator VARDON - That is not a reply to my objection either.

Senator Pearce - Temporary clerks get only 8s. per day in the Central Administrative Department.

Senator VARDON - I think the Minister will find that the figures I have given will be borne out by the officials of the Department.

Senator Pearce - The honorable senator has not been supplied with the figures for the Central Administrative Department.

Senator VARDON - The figures given answer my purpose. Where is the warrant for so big a difference in salary as that paid to a Sub-Collector of Customs in New South Wales of£600 and that paid to a Sub-Collector in South Australia of£380? In view of the figures given I do not wonder that there should be some dissatisfaction in the Public Service in some of the States. I think the matter is well worthy of inquiry to show whether such a difference in duties and responsibilities in the different States exists as to warrant so great a difference in the salaries paid, especially in the case of temporary clerks. Surely it cannot be right that in one State they should be paid 2s. a day less than in any of the other States? I ask Ministers to look into the matter and see whether the differences to which I have drawn attention are justified. I have not much to say on this Supply Bill. I take it that amounts set out in the schedule are in accord with the Estimates previously approved. I do not know why the Ministry should ask for two months' Supply when one month's Supply would be sufficient. We shall not close Parliament in a month. .

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - In six weeks.

Senator VARDON - I think that is very doubtful. If we are to do all the work outlined in a speech made in another place last night it will be more like six months before we are through with it.

Senator McGregor - It is all at the will of Parliament. It can take as long as it likes to do the work.

Senator VARDON - I take it that it will be to some extent at the will of the Government. It will depend upon the measures they submit to Parliament. It will be the duty of Parliament to properly discuss every measure submitted by the Government, and I do not suppose the session will close until that has been done. If it is to continue for so long as may be anticipated in view of the business which we are told has yet to be done, the Government should on this occasion have been satisfied with one month's Supply.

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