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Wednesday, 10 September 1902

Mr FOWLER (Perth) - I am sorry to hear the honorable member for Coolgardie object to the report, though, after all, his objections do not amount to very much. It must be remembered that the' printing committee had no particular instructions to initiate any very sweeping reform. It was primarily an investigation as to whether charges in regard to excessive printing expenditure were or were not justified. It must also be remembered that the present printing arrangement in connexion with the printing of Hansard and other documents is only temporary. It has been urged by the Government Printer of Victoria, Mr. Brain, that it would be well to let any attempt at more drastic reforms stand over until the Federal Government is able to order its affairs in a more definite fashion. As to Hansard, it is the intention of the Government Printer to employ typesetting machines, which will undoubtedly reduce the cost. At the same time we have been given to understand that the cost is not much beyond what is usually charged for work of this kind. It is work which is always regarded as demanding special care, and, for that reason, entitled to special payment. As to the rate of ls. 3d. per 1,000, I draw the attention of the honorable member for Coolgardie to paragraph 56, on page 5 of the report, in which, I think, he will find a perfectly satisfactory explanation. The men employed by the Federal Government have to work at hours when, they are entitled to more pay than are those employed on the work of the State Governments. I, for one, am perfectly prepared to accept the responsibility of giving these men the extra 3d., which, I understand, is not altogether representative of the difference between their position and the position of printers who set up type for the .States Governments. An allowance of 10 per cent, is made, at least in some of the States, in connexion with the work done for Hansard. I am unable to follow the honorable member for Coolgardie in his observations as to recommendation No. i. He objects, in the first place, that an attempt is being made to curtail privileges of members in regard to the printing of certain documents, and yet in the next breath he urges that certain documents shall be abridged, or edited by, I presume, the Clerk of the House. I fail to follow the necessity for allowing a privilege with one hand and modifying it with the other.

Mr Mahon - What about the honorable member's.own recommendation, under which the Clerk may suspend an order of the House ?

Mr FOWLER - The Clerk, as a matter of fact, exercises his commonsense and judgment in regard to all matters which pass through his hands, and he indicated to the committee several instances in which his work had resulted in a considerable saving to the federal printing account. On . the whole I would remind the House that what the committee have done amounts to very definite savings. The limit of our action wag narrow, and the present arrangement is only temporary, and I think I may fairly urge that the committee were not justified in proposing more drastic changes, but that what they have recommended is a direct improvement in the way of economy.

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