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Friday, 25 November 1910

Senator STORY (South Australia) . - Although I agree with my juvenile friend, Senator Rea, as to the desirableness of Parliament discussing the questions which will be brought before the Imperial Con ference, I do not agree with his claim that those questions should be discussed before that gathering has actually been held. I am perfectly prepared to rely upon the discretion and wisdom of our delegates to properly voice the opinion of Australia upon any question which may come before the Conference. Concerning the question of a long recess, I again join issue with Senator Rae. Personally., I think that a long recess is very much preferable to a long parliamentary session. I am satisfied that if Parliament meets again on 1st September next year, and continues in session till the end of the year, it will accomplish just as much work as if it met on 1 st June next. If it met on the earlier date, there would be more talking, but no more business would be transacted. Senator Rae is always equal to the task of doing his share of the talking. Indeed, I am not quite certain that he does not do more than his share. But all the talking that is done here does not assist us in the transaction of business. On the other hand, it retards it. I have every confidence that the next session of this Parliament, brief though it may be, will be productive of a greater amount of legislation than would a long session. There is just one matter connected with this Bill to which I desire to direct the attention of the Government. In nearly every Department of our Public Service, the salaries of officers in South Australia are lower than are those paid to officers occupying corresponding positions in the other States. I am anxious that the Government should endeavour to ascertain why this is so. Let me compare the salaries paid in South Australia in the Department of Trade and Customs and the Postal Department wilh the salaries paid in those Departments in Western Australia, which has a very much less population. In the Department of Trade and Customs, the salaries paid in South Australia proper aggregate £[4,000, as against £[4,39° inWestern Australia. The " contingencies " in South Australia are set down at £[850, as against £[930 in Western Australia. I select these two States to illustrate my meaning, because they approximate more closely to each other from the stand-point of population than do any other two States.

Senator Henderson - But the work of the Customs Department in South Australia is concentrated, whereas in Western Australia it is scattered.

Senator STORY - I wish the Government to ascertain the reason for this anomaly. In the Postmaster-General's Department, the salaries paid in South Australia total £27,000, as against £32,000 in Western Australia. Similarly, only £10,200 is paid for the conveyance of mails in South Australia, as against £11,000 in Western Australia. If the Government will look into the matter, they will see that, generally speaking, the officers of . the various Departments in South Australia labour under a disadvantage as compared with officers holding similar positions in the other States. I should like to know whether this is due to the fact that, owing to the efforts of one of its representatives in this Parliament, Western Australia has been more liberally treated than has South Australia, or whether the Public Service Inspector in South Australia is an officer of a very frugal mind. A number of complaints have been made to me that officers in South Australia are not getting a fair deal. I should like to know whether this is due to a desire on the part of the Public Service Inspector in that State to keep the salaries down in the interests of the Commonwealth. If that be the explanation, I would suggest the advisableness of exchanging that officer for an inspector from one of the 'other States. Public servants in South Australia might then have an opportunity for advancement. I trust that the Government will look into this matter, and ascertain whether there is any justification for my suggestion.

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