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Tuesday, 26 July 1921

Senator CRAWFORD (Queensland) . - I strongly support the amendment, although I hold that, if it is agreed to in the form submitted, the Government will not be bound to appoint Customs officials as members of the Board. It will still be open for them, having appointed a Customs official as chairman, to select whomsoever they may consider best fitted to fill the remaining positions, regardless of whether the persons concerned are within or outside of the Service. I am stoutly opposed to payment by sittings and to the appointment of persons who are actively engaged in business. If such appoint-, ments were made, it would almost necessarily follow that the two non-official members of the Board would be Melbourne business men. It is my view, rightly or wrongly held, that there is already too much Melbourne influence in Commonwealth government and administration. Obviously, it would not be possible for business men in any of the other capital cities to accept appointment to the Board, since their responsibilities would' entail constant visits to Melbourne to- attend sittings. Melbourne men would, in all probability, be given the positions, and the outcome would be that their own business interests would frequently clash with their duties as members of the Board.' Very often, no doubt, their attendance would be required ju6t at a time when their own business affairs were demanding close attention ; and I fear that these members would frequently attend sittings of the Board merely to Confirm whatever the chairman had already decided. I know of no Board created by the Commonwealth which will have had more important affairs to deal with. It will be necessary for its members to travel both to obtain the evidence of witnesses and to secure the evidence of their own observation. They will be called upon to examine the conditions under which industries are carried on in all the States before they may consider themselves qualified to make a fair and comprehensive recommendation. There are some industries which, although common to all the States, arc not carried on in precisely the same fashion and under exactly the same conditions' in each; while there are other industries which exist in only one or two of the States. Thus it will be necessary for the Board to cover the whole field of industrial activity, which will entail the concentration of all their time and energies. Seeing that the Government have inserted in the Bill specific reference to a salary not exceeding £1,250-

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The proposal is there really with a desire to gather honorable senators' views. The sum mentioned has been included really to provide a via media.

Senator CRAWFORD - The Minister's interjection provides a telling argument for the acceptance of the amendment, since it indicates the possibility of the Board having to sit on nearly every business day of the year. I am convinced that a mistake will be made if the Committee retains the principle ©f payment per sitting.

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