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Wednesday, 7 December 1927

Senator GUTHRIE (Victoria) - The Minister has misunderstood me. He admits the value of the Meteorological Department, and has supplied evidence of its usefulness. The instance he quoted is sufficient to show its importance, and justifies my contention that a larger amount than £38,000 should be set apart for its use this year. In my opinion, more stations should be established, not only on the coast of Australia and in the adjoining islands, but also in inland areas.

Senator Sir William Glasgow -We have a number of recording stations in inland areas.

Senator GUTHRIE - I repeat that the shrinkage in our exportable products, upon which our prosperity so largely depends, is ample evidence of the poorness of the season.

Proposed vote agreed to.

Department of Defence.

Proposed vote, £4,713,500.

Senator NEEDHAM(Western Austra mation from the Minister regarding the exchange of Secretaries of the Defence Department and the High Commissioner's office. Under the heading " Administrative efficiency and economy," the Public Service Board in its report states that efforts have been made to restrict expenditure. I understand that a few months ago the then Secretary of the Defence Department, Mr. Trumble, who had been connected with the department for many years, including the catastrophic years of Avar, was transferred to London as Secretary to the High Commissioner. For the last two years during which he occupied the position of Secretary to the Defence Department, he received £1,350 per annum. I assume that when he took over the duties of secretary to the High Commissioner he received a salary equivalent to that paid to Mr. Shepherd. Mr. Shepherd, who has been transferred from the High Commissioner's Office in London, now occupies the position of Secretary to the Defence Department at a salary of £2,000 a year, or £G50 a year more than was paid to Mr. Trumble. Mr. Trumble and Mr. Shepherd are both able men, but I. think Mr. Trumble's experience in the Defence Department would enable him to render greater service to the Government than Mr. Shepherd. I should like to know whether that salary is to be paid only to the present occupant of the position, and whether it was approved by the Public Service Board. The Secretary of the Defence Department has important duties to fulfil, but secretaries of other Government departments of equal importance do not receive £2,000 a year. The salaries of secretaries of other departments are : - Prime Minister's Department, £1,300; Department of the Treasury, £1,500; A ttorney-General's Department, £2,000 ; Department of Trade and Customs, £2,000, and Department of Works and Railways, £1,000. The disparity between the salary paid to the Secretary to the Department of Works and Railways and that of the Secretary of the Defence Department is too great. One is either receiving too much or the other is underpaid. The Director-General of Works and Chief Architect receives £1,400 a year, and any one who knows the work which Mr. Murdoch has been carrying out for many years, which has been almost invaluable to the Commonwealth, must admit that the difference between that which he receives and the amount paid to the Secretary of the Defence Department is too great. The Chief Engineer in the Department of Works and Railways, another able officer, receives £1,300 a year. The Director-General of Health, who controls a very important department, receives £1,700, and the Secretary to the Minister for Markets and Migration £3,100 a year. As there are other departments controlling work which is quite as important as that of the Defence Department, particularly at this juncture, I should like to know why the salary of the Secretary of the Department of Defence has been increased by the amount. . I have mentioned.

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