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Tuesday, 27 May 1902

Mr A McLEAN (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) - I look with a great deal of apprehension on the manner in which this department is being arranged, with five or six sub-departments under the control of high-salaried officers. Almost the whole of the additional expenditure is absorbed by these high salaries, and when the padding is filled in with lowersalaried officers, we can imagine the magnitude to which the department may grow. We find that the services which are proposed to be carried out by this department have hitherto been administered by the States at a cost of about £97,000, whereas at present they cost £144,000.

Sir George Turner - How does the honorable member arrive at these figures ?

Mr A McLEAN (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) - The figures with asterisks are supposed to represent the cost of the services at the time of transfer.

Sir George Turner - That is the amount which we are proposing to. spend this year on the services.

Mr A McLEAN (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) - -What is the £144,000?

Sir George Turner - That is the total cost of the department. We could not ascertain exactly what had been spent on repairs, rent, and maintenance in the different States.

Mr A McLEAN (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) - What has the department to provide for more than the various services 1

Sir George Turner - There is a considerable amount of new expenditure, amounting to £47,000.

Mr A McLEAN (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) - I am taking exception to that. I think that it is unnecessarily large, and I am perfectly sure that it will grow. We know from past experience that if a sub-department is created under highlypaid officers - and here we are paying one officer £1,000 a year, another £750 a year, and several £600 and £500 a year - it is bound to grow. We do not require an officer receiving a salary of £1,000 a year to supervise the work of one or two men. I fail to see why several of these services could not be carried out by the central or administrative department. At the present time the cost of the central department is about £5,300 a year. Surely its officers can find time to supervise these subdepartments, which, it appears to me, have been added for the purpose of the magnitude of the cost of the central office? I am anxious to assist the Minister in doing what is best for the- Commonwealth, but if we create these sub-departments, under highly-paid officers, before the necessity for .them arises, they will go on increasing year by year. I agree with those honorable members who. have said that some of the branch services now under the department for Home Affairs could be carried on by other departments. The electoral branch could be carried on by the Attorney-General's department.

Sir George Turner - That would not . effect any saving. It would simply mean the transfer of the expenditure to the" Attorney-General's vote.

Mr A McLEAN (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) - I fail to see why the central office should not administer some of the branches which it is proposed to create as special sub-departments. I strongly urge the Minister to consider the suggestion, and see if he cannot so re-arrange the department that it will /involve the least cost to the Commonwealth. Why, for instance, should we sanction the COSt of administering the department of the Inter-State Commission 1

Sir George Turner - That proposed vote will be withdrawn. It was inserted as far back as last September, when it was thought that the Inter-State Commission Bill would be passed.

Mr A McLEAN (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) - I am glad to hear that. I hope that the Minister will see whether further reductions cannot be made in the number of these sub-departments. I trust that great care will be . exercised in making appointments to offices for which high salaries have been provided, and that the necessity for filling them will be demonstrated before the House is asked to sanction any appointment. It is no trivial matter to create these offices, and until the necessity for each service arises I hope that the Government will not ask Parliament to sanction their creation.

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