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Tuesday, 22 March 1927

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia.) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) . - The cost of living at Canberra was the subject of reference to a special committee. Considerable correspondence has passed betwen the Government and the Public Service Board on the subject. Under the Public Service Act it is the function of the board to fix allowances to members of the Public Service. Recently it issued statutory rule No. 22, which was approved by the Executive Council on the 1st March, and gazetted. That rule sets out the scale of allowances to be paid to public servants as follows : -

The factors governing the allowances include the following -

1.   Salary, for the purpose of this regulation, shall be deemed to be the salary payable to this officer on 1st July, 1927, provided that, in the case of an officer transferred prior to July, 1927, salary until that date shall be deemed to be the salary received at date of transfer.

2.   If, in the opinion of the board, the provisions of this regulation should be applied m the case of any officer transferred to Canberra prior to the date of this regulation, allowance as prescribed in this regulation may be paid the officer from a date to be determined by the board.

3.   For the purpose of -this regulation, a married officer shall include a widower with dependent children, and any officer maintaining dependants whose circumstances, in the opinion of the board, justify inclusion.

The preamble to the regulation is interesting. It reads -

Whereas the special circumstances attending the transfer of departments to a newlyestablished city will necessarily involve, at the outset, additional expense to compulsorilytransferred officers of those departments in relation to housing and living :

And whereas it is expedient that officers transferred to Canberra in these special circumstances should receive special allowances :

Now, therefore, the Board of Commissioners appointed under the Commonwealth Public Service. Act 1922-1924, in pursuance and exercise of the authority conferred upon it by the said Act, and subject to the approval of the Governor-General, hereby makes the following amendment of the regulations, such amendment to come into operation forthwith.

The preamble is to guard against this being taken as a precedent; otherwise it could be argued that when an officer was compulsorily transferred from one part of the Commonwealth to another he should be entitled to a special allowance, if he had to face a higher cost of living. Transfers of officers of the Commonwealth are frequently made, and it often happens that a higher cost of living rules in the part of the Commonwealth to which an officer is transferred. He is not entitled toan allowance because of that fact; but he has a right to show cause why he should not be transferred. In the case of the transfer to Canberra, no such right will exist, because the transfer of whole departments will be involved. Thus this transfer has been treated as a special case, and allowances have been fixed by the Public Service Board. I have not heard of any protest against them.

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