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Friday, 11 November 1921

Senator SENIOR (South Australia) . - I recollect that in a neighbouring State the Government secured premises for a Customs House, post-office, and police station, and subsequently the Customs office and post-office were combined. Under this proposal, apparently, the Government could charge the one occupant the interest on the capital cost of the whole building.

Senator Russell - That would take all the officer's wages.

Senator SENIOR - I can quote the case of a married man who had been in occupation of a post-office building being transferred, and a single man appointed in hia place. The single man was required to occupy the premises to protect the property, and for that privilege the Department deducted 7 per cent, of hia salary for rent.

Senator Russell - An officer has the right to sub-let premises if they are not suitable for residential purposes. The Government get nothing out of the transaction; as a matter of fact, we are under a loss, but we provide living premises for the convenience of officers who may be married men with families.

Senator SENIOR - The point I make is that the rental charged for the buildings is counted as part of an officer's salary.

Senator Vardon - The Board now will take that matter into consideration.

Senator SENIOR - But the honorable senator will see that under this clause the Board will not have that power.

Senator Vardon - Well, the Minister, if you like. Previously the rent was acitually fixed at 7 per cent, of the actual cost. Under this provision it will he fixed at the discretion of the Minister. What more do you want ?

Senator SENIOR - The Minister residing in Melbourne will be called upon to determine al case in, say, Western Australia. He will know nothing of the circumstances, so he will call for the papers, and, having ascertained the capital cost of a building, will say that an officer must pay so much by way of interest. If an officer in receipt of a lower salary displaces an officer of a higher status, the rental charged to him, in proportion to his annual salary, will be greater than that charged to his predecessor, and will be tantamount to a reduction of salary. 'Cases of this kind have frequently been reported to me, and I think this is a favorable opportunity to mention the matter. However, if the Committee thinks that it should be left as it is, well and good.

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