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Friday, 13 June 1902

Mr HENRY WILLIS (Robertson) - I should like some explanation of the amounts set down - which I understand cover gratuities to representatives of deceased officers under the heading of " Miscellaneous " in the Postmaster-General's department. I find that in New South Wales, the sum proposed to be voted in this connexion totals £386 ; in Victoria, it is £63 ; and in Queensland £9,547. I also desire some information regarding the amount of £51 provided under a similar heading in the Defence department, which includes compensation to C. McCarthy in respect of fatal injuries to his wife, caused by a trooper's horse at the Royal reception in Melbourne.

Sir GEORGE TURNER - The items mentioned by the honorable member came before the Committee of Supply and have been passed. Concerning gratuities, I think that the Commonwealth ought to pay them only where an absolutely clear right exists. In Victoria if an officer should die without having sent in his resignation to the Government, the practice has always been - if his representatives would have been entitled to a certain sum had he resigned - for Parliament to vote them a similar amount. In New South Wales a difficulty is sometimes occasioned by an officer dying between the sending in of his resignation and the issue of the Order in Council. The allowance, under the circumstances, is regarded as a gratuity, but is voted as a matter of course. Ordinary gratuities are submitted to the State Government, who, as a rule, raise not the slightest objection, and the amounts are at once placed on the Estimates and paid. As to the other matter referred to by the honorable member, an unfortunate accident happened to the wife of this gentleman at Port Melbourne on the day the Royal visitors were leaving. A trooper's horse so injured the lady that she died, and it was thought wise to give the widower a certain amount in order to defray the expense to which he was put.

Mr Henry Willis - Was the amount considered sufficient?

Sir George Turner - The widower is quite satisfied with the amount.

Mr. JOSEPHCOOK (Parramatta).I should like to call attention to a grave injustice inflicted upon a number of public officers who are in receipt of very small salaries, the present method of dealing with these men being nothing short of 7-efmed cruelty. I am not blaming the Treasurer, seeing that the injustice arises from the peculiar circumstances of this session. Increments are due to those officers ; and, the Government having determined the amounts to be submitted to Parliament, the Treasurer might safely have paid them along with the salaries. There is not a single member who would cavil at this modicum of justice being meted out to officers most of whom are receiving salaries ranging from £80 to £100 a year.

Sir George Turner - If the honorable, member expresses the general feeling, and the committee direct "that these increments shall be paid, I shall have great pleasure in paying them.

Mr Deakin - It is only out of consideration for the House that the increments have not been paid.

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