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Tuesday, 26 August 1902

Mr SALMON (Laanecoorie) - I am surprised to see this item included on the schedule. I suggest that it is desirable that it should come before us on the Estimates.

Mr Deakin - It will come before the committee on the Estimates.

Mr SALMON - Then why place it here 1

Mr Deakin - Because it is part of the information we wish to supply to the future Governor-General.

Mr SALMON - Will he require to know that an officer will be appointed for this purpose ?

Mr Deakin - Yes ; and that he need not include on his staff any person to perform these duties.

Mr SALMON - That is a matter of information which can be afforded to the Governor-General without any resolution at this time. I hope that the Acting Prime Minister will reconsider the matter. The committee has dealt very generously with the proposals of the Government as a whole, and we are not asking too much when we request that this matter shall be eliminated from the resolution and dealt with as part of the ordinary estimates. I feel sure that if the Government are convinced that it is absolutely necessary that an officer shall be appointed for this work, Parliament will have no objection to voting an adequate sum of money.

Mr Watson - Why cannot we decide now as well as later on 1

Mr SALMON - This is not the time when this committee should decide about making new appointments, and additions to the public service. We have been preaching economy, and endeavouring to cut down the expenditure of the Government, and surely it is not a fair thing that we should have an absolutely new appointment inaugurated upon a resolution, the object of which is quite distinct from what is now proposed. The object of the resolution is ostensibly for the settlement of the Governor-General's establishment, and not for the appointment of a new officer, who is to be no part of the Governor-General's establishment, but is to be an executive officer under the Crown, who is to be amenable to Parliament, and under the control and direction of Parliament, although for the purpose of convenience I presume that he will be lent to the Governor-General to perform certain duties which will come within the purview of the Crown's representative. We are told that this officer is to be the Secretary to the Executive Council, because it is considered desirable that certain communications which have to pass between the Government of the Commonwealth and the Imperial Government should not be in the hands of an irresponsible and uncontrollable person, but that the officer who will have charge of them should be a Commonwealth officer. If that be so, it is not necessary that the officer should be especially mentioned as a member of the staff of the Governor-General, and provided for on his establishment. He should be provided for as part of the staff of the Executive Council. We have already provided means whereby officers can be paid who have work to do in connexion with the Executive Council, and I hope that the Government in order to preserve that somewhat overlauded uniformity of which we hear so much, will follow the usual course and have this officer's salary placed upon the ordinary Estimates, and eliminate it from this resolution.

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