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Thursday, 29 May 1902

Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume) (Minister for Home Affairs) . - I am glad the honorable member for Wentworth has directed my attention to this particular office, which, though the salary is not large, should be filled by the best man obtainable. I think that, for the salary named, we shall be more likely to obtain the services of an officer not more than 35 years of age, who, in a few years, will prove much more valuable than a gentleman who, at the date of his appointment, was 50 or 55 years of age. The honorable and learned member for Parkes the other night made a few remarks which would apply in the present instance. When the honorable and learned member, as a Minister in the Government of New South Wales, appointed the present Government architect in that State, his intention was to stop the rapid growth of the department and have plans supplied from skilled members of the profession outside. Under the old plan, with a swollen department, the Government were limited to the services of their immediate employes, and I agree with the honorable and learned member for Parkes that it is far better to invite competitive designs for buildings of importance, though an arrangement might be made by which works below a certain value could be entirely planned in the department. It is proper that the Government should have the advantage of the experience and skill of as largo a number of architects as possible, and in this way the idea of the honorable and learned member was of much service in the neighbouring State. For the Kenmore Asylum, near Goulburn, competitive designs were invited, and the result is probably one of the finest buildings in New South Wales.

Sir William McMillan - That was a special building.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - But several other important buildings have been erected under similar circumstances, with equally good results. The honorable and learned member for Parkes was anxious to stop the growth of an expensive central architect's department; and that is my own object in asking the committee to provide for the appointment of an InspectorGeneral. I should like to give such an officer a better salary, because I want a man who can go to various parts of the Commonwealth, and after consultation with the heads of the States' departments, take the control of all the business connected with inviting competitive designs, and generally see that no more money than is necessary is expended. I can assure the committee that the very greatest care will be exercised in making this appointment. I shall not mention names, but there are three applicants for the position, two of whom are comparatively young, though the third cannot be so described. The Inspector-General of Works will control all the officers in the Commonwealth Public Works department, including superintendents, one of whom will be in each of the larger States. It has been suggested by South Australia and Tasmania, that in each of those States an officer paid jointly by the Commonwealth and the States should be employed, and I propose to adopt that course. The Inspector-General will control their work, and have an intimate knowledge of everything that is going on in connexion with the department. He will also keep himself informed as to the way in which works are being carried out for us by State officers. I do not know whether any reference is going to be made to the erection of the post-office at Newcastle, but I am informed that it is the intention of the honorable and learned member for Parkes to refer to it. I have secured all. the particulars relating to it, and it seems to me that we want just such an officer as we propose to appoint- a man high up in the profession - in order to see that something which has taken place in connexion with that building does not occur again. The original estimate was that the building would be erected for £19,000, but a sum of £33,000 has been, or will have been, expended upon it in a very short time. As a matter of fact the work, when completed, will have cost about £37,000. I only mention the matter incidentally; in order to show the necessity for the appointment of an Inspector-General. If I had had such an officer at my disposal, I should have been able to see that a little more cape was exercised in connexion with the building of the Newcastle post-office.

Mr Mauger - Without proper supervision, the Government must lose all round.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Quite so. At the proper time I shall explain that certain alterations have been made in connexion with the Newcastle post-office, although for what purpose I am unable to say. The alterations will certainly cost a very large amount, and if I had been consulted, I should not have allowed them. It was only when the matter cropped up the other day that I was afforded an opportunity of ascertaining the way in which the additional sum of money, to which I have referred, had been expended on the work. Our desire is to have one chief officer, with others under him, to enable us to control the expenditure on public works of the Commonwealth. The expenditure out of loan moneys and revenue for the year will amount to some £230,000 or £240,000. I think that the proposed works out of revenue alone represent an expenditure of £160,000, and certainly we require some supervision of them.

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