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Friday, 25 November 1910

Senator McGREGOR (South AustraliaVicePresident of the Executive Council) - - I do not intend to occupy very much time in replying to the criticisms which have been made. No one can regret more than does the Government the delay which has been rendered necessary in connexion with the presentation of the Appropriation Bills to Parliament at this late, stage of the session. They must be dealt with in one Chamber later than in the other; and, seeing that they must be originated in the other House, they must be dealt with last in the Senate. If the Estimates had been dealt with in the other House a few months ago, I suppose that the Parliament would have been prorogued much earlier, for that is about the last work which is done. I hope that, on future occasions, the Government will be in a position to treat the Senate better than it has been treated in the past.

Senator Millen - Or in the present.

Senator McGREGOR - In the past as well as the present. I am classing this session with every previous session. At present, the delay is inevitable. I hope that honorable senators will insist on getting rid of the difficulty as speedily as possible. The representative of the Government has been asked many questions. Senators St. Ledger and Givens wished to know whether we intended to make provision for all the great things which we are going to do. That question was answered by Senator Millen. In a very clear manner, he endeavoured to show the Senate that, on account of the fortunate circumstances in which the present Government was placed, we should have £5,300,000 more at our disposal than had the previous Government. There is no necessity for me to answer the question when it has been answered so ably by the Leader of the Opposition. So far as these Estimates are concerned, the Government have not undertaken anything which they are not prepared to carry out. Our only regret is that honorable senators have not had longer time in which to deal with the Estimates. As I have already stated, the greater portion of the sum of £16,841,000 has been appropriated in Supply Bills, Works and Buildings Bills, permanent appropriations, and other measures ; so that all we are really asked to appropriate to-day is the sum of £6,094,906.

Senator Rae - The honorable senator does not mean that it has all been spent?

Senator McGREGOR - No; but it has all been authorized to be expended. It will take some time to spend the money for which we are now asking ; and, of course, if it is not all spent before 30th June next, the unexpended balance will have to be re-voted. The Works and Buildings Estimates were dealt with long ago; so that there would be an opportunity to push on with the works. If honorable senators will consider these things, they will recognise that very often a Government is placed in such a position that it cannot help taking a certain course of action. With respect to provision for the Northern Territory and other matters, the Senate will be asked to consider a short Bill covering Supplementary Estimates which have been rendered necessary. There is also a Bill granting Supply for the first two months of the next financial year. This is being done simply for the convenience of members of Parliament. The Supply is based on the Estimates for the present financial year; so that there need not be any discussion about it. It will be here as' soon as the Appropriation Bill is passed.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a first and second time.

In Committee :

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clauses 2 and 3 postponed.

First Schedule agreed to.

Second Schedule -

Divisions 1 to 10(The Parliament), pro posed vote, . £32,700.

Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD (New South Wales) [3.38].- I desire to refer to the salaries provided for the Clerk-Assistant, Clerk of Select Committees, and Clerk of the Papers and Accountant. On the death of Mr. Blackmore, Mr. Boydell was promoted from the position of Clerk-Assistant and Paying Officer to that of Clerk of the Senate, at a salary of £900. The present ClerkAssistant was promoted from the position of Clerk of Select Committees at a salary of £650, with an agreement that it should be increased, on the recommendation of the President, by £34 per annum until it reached the maximum of £750. It was thought undesirable to promote the three officers to the maximum, but on promotion they received a substantial increase on their then salaries, and after a good deal of correspondence an arrangement was arrived at between the Government and myself that the salary of the Clerk- Assistant should carry an annual increment of £34 until it amounted to £750. Increments were provided for the other two officers, which would bring them, within a reason- able period, to the maximum of the class. In the Estimates last year there was a footnote pointing this out, and with full knowledge the Parliament voted salaries of £684. £500, and , £310 respectively. On these Estimates, through an inadvertence I believe, the annual increments have not been added as had been arranged.

Senator McGregor - The Government is prepared to put that right.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I understand that I have the Government's assurance that the arrangement will be carried out.

Senator McGregor - It is an understanding which ought to be respected.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I accept the Minister's statement. The Senate has had an opportunity of seeing the way in which the two Clerks at the table have acquitted them selves during the session. I feel perfectly sure that these officers, who were promoted on my recommendation, have given the same amount of satisfaction to honorable senators generally as they have given to me.

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