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Tuesday, 27 May 1902

Mr POYNTON (South Australia) - I think that it is being demonstrated every day that the chief object for which the Commonwealth was brought into existence was the creation 'of a number of departments so that Ministers might provide fab billets for many of their friends.

Sir John Quick - There is no justification for that statement.

Mr POYNTON - It is justified by appointments which have been made already. "We have been told that the electoral officer has been compiling a roll in South Australia.

Sir William Lyne - I said that he was compiling the Commonwealth roll for South Australia in Melbourne.

Mr POYNTON - As a matter of fact, new State rolls for South Australia have just been completed, and they were used at the recent general elections. Perhaps the least I say about the electoral officer th better.

Sir William Lyne - The honorable member can say as much as he likes about him. I will reply to him. Do not let us have any innuendoes.

Mr POYNTON - I am not afraid to speak. In the opinion of many people the Commonwealth is becoming a huge and expensive machine, which will cripple itself.

Sir William Lyne - Nonsense.

Mr POYNTON - The Minister knows ' that it is his desire to create a Commonwealth Public "Works department in every State

Sir William Lyne - That is not so.

Mr POYNTON - The Minister is now proposing to form the nucleus of such a department. What have the State officers done that we cannot have confidence in them I An honorable member said just now that the States should retrench the officers of their respective departments. Are we bo create offices in the Commonwealth service, and to tell the States to discharge men who have done good work for them for years ?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Why should we nob take over those men t

Mr POYNTON - They are not given a chance to come over to us. Surely the men in the Public Works departments of the States who have conducted their work satisfactorily for years should be good enough for the Commonwealth

Sir William Lyne - Should not the Commonwealth have men under its own control 1

Mr POYNTON - The Commonwealth should not seek to duplicate the Public Works departments throughout Australia. If a poll of the people were taken on the question bo-morrow, ib would be decided that no duplication should bake place.

Mr Page - -Let the States sack some of their staffs.

Mr POYNTON - That is a humane position to take up. We cannot bake over officers from the State services when others are being appointed. The electoral officer is a case in point.

Mr Page - His is only a temporary appointment.

Mr POYNTON - The honorable member will see whether that is so later on.

Sir William Lyne - He was an officer in the employ of the New South Wales Government. He left the service some time "ago and was re-employed.

Mr POYNTON - He was pensioned off. Are we to make the Commonwealth service a rendezvous for different pensioned-off officers of the States 1 The appointment of the gentleman now holding the position of chief electoral officer of the Commonwealth prevents the selection of a State officer who knows more about the work.

Mr Thomas - But the electoral officer was in the New South Wales Government service.

Mr POYNTON - Apparently he did not give great satisfaction. If he did, he would still be in the State service. I object to these so-called temporary appointments, when, as a matter of fact, the Minister knows that they are to be permanent. It is apparent that the committee is going to support the formation of a Commonwealth Public Works department. Why I do not know, when there are men in the State departments who would carry out our works. We are proposing to have a highly paid official practically to supervise his own movements in connexion with public works. The same thing is going on in every department. Too many appointments have been made in every one of them. I shall lodge my protest against the proposal to create a Public Works department for the Commonwealth, and divide the committee upon it. I have sufficient confidence in the officers of the States departments to believe that they are able to carry out all the works that we require, and that if we intrust the work to them we shall avoid the duplication of expense.

Mr McCay - Has the honorable member sufficient confidence in a man who is working for another " boss " to ask him to do his work ?

Mr POYNTON - I am not going to say that the States will rob the Commonwealth, nor will the honorable and learned member say so.

Mr McCay - No; but that is not the point.

Mr POYNTON - I have sufficient confidence in the officers of the State departments who are at present carrying out our public works to lead me to believe that they will discharge their duties as satisfactorily as will any officers appointed by the Minister for Home Affairs, and with very much better supervision.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The point is that if there is a rush of work the State officials will do the State work first.

Mr POYNTON - Seeing that the Commonwealth has taken over at least three very large departments, is it likely that the State officials will be overburdened with work - that things will be worse in the future in that respect than they have been in the past ? The creation of this Works department is a piece of gross extravagance, and the time will come when honorable members will regret it. I lodge my protest against it.

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