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Thursday, 29 May 1902

Mr F E McLEAN (LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I wish to clearly understand what we are committing ourselves to. I gather that the amount of £4,066 put down on the Estimates for salaries and contingencies, is to cover the expenditure of the proposed new department for a period of six months, and that the annual expenditure of the department will be something over £8,000 a year.

Sir William Lyne - Yes.

Mr F E McLEAN (LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES) - But there is a further amount of £5,000 to recoup the States. Will that vote be of annual recurrence ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The £5,000 is put down as an approximation of what we shall have to pay to the States on account of the work undertaken by them during last year. I cannot say exactly what we shall have to pay, because no arrangement has yet been made with the States as to the basis upon which they shall be remunerated. I suggested to one or two of the States' authorities that the Commonwealth should pay a percentage upon the amount expended, but they want to charge for the actual services of the officers employed. I think that the amount which will have to be paid for last year will be less than £5,000, and, of course, the establishment of a Common wealth Works department will materially reduce the expenditure in future years.

Mr. PAGE(Maranoa). - If a post-office is being built, say at Longreach, in Queensland, and a State officer is despatched from Brisbane to supervise its construction, will the Commonwealth have to pay the whole expense? The journey there and back, aud his stay at Longreach would, probably, occupy eight or ten days.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I feel that I am not in a satisfactory position in regard to a matter such as that. It might happen that a State department would send an officer a long distance simply to inspect one work.

Mr Poynton - But it would cost no more to send a State officer than to send a Commonwealth officer.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - In regard to inspections by Commonwealth officers, I should adopt the course which I always followed in New South Wales, and give instructions that a number of works should be inspected in rotation, and a portion of the expense charged to each. At the present time I am entirely in the hands of the State authorities. Of course, I do not think that they would deliberately charge the Commonwealth for expenses which we should not pay ; but I think we could make more satisfactory arrangements than they make for us, and it is necessary for us to know exactly what is taking place. The honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Poynton, knows how difficult it has been to ascertain the position in which Commonwealth works in South Australia stand ; but, when this department is created, members who wish to know how works are getting on in any of the States, will only have to apply to the proper officer to get full information. Furthermore, if the States' officials were not doing any work in a manner in which I thought it should be done, I would give instructions to have it carried out by my own officers.

Mr. POYNTON(South Australia).- If a post-office is being erected at some place a few hundred miles away in the interior, the Commonwealth will have to bear the expense of sending a State officer to inspect it. When this new department is created, we shall probably have to bear the expense of sending a federal officer as well as a State officer.

Mr. JOSEPHCOOK (Parramatta).It seems to me that £1,000 is too large a salary for the Inspector-General of Works to commence with, because, whoever is appointed will naturally expect an increase as the years go by, and I think the Minister could easily obtain from the States services an able and experienced man who would gladly accept a salary of £750 per annum, because that would probably be a great increase upon his present State salary.

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