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Friday, 26 September 1902

Mr O'MALLEY (Tasmania) - I moveThat the item, "Secretary to the Federal Executive Council, £600, " be reduced by £200.

Mr McDonald - Why not move to strike out the line " Clerk, £325" ?

Mr O'MALLEY - I am bound to take the Acting Prime Minister's declaration that a clerk must be employed, but we should be very careful not to increase the number of secretaries in the Commonwealth service. Great dissatisfaction exists because it is said that nearly every man in the service has a secretary, and that the secretary has a clerk, for whom the people have to pay. If members of the Federal Parliament can afford to spend £400 or £500 in seeking election to this House, to work here for £400 a year, and to allow their business to go to the dogs, as many of them have to do, surely £400 a year ought to enable the Government to secure a suitable Secretary to the Executive Council ? I could obtain the services of a university man - a man with 44 degrees attached to his name - to do the work for £400 a year.

Mr Thomson - Members of Parliament can be obtained to do the work of the country for nothing.

Mr O'MALLEY - Certainly. The work which the Secretary to the Executive Council has to do is not sufficient to keep him employed for an hour a day. I agree with the honorable member for Coolgardie that the clerk will do the work. It is very funny to hear that certain private communications pass between the Government and the representative of the Crown which no one can see except the gentleman at the top. If there are such private communications, they must be a danger to the fabric of democracy in Australia. The Government have no right to have communications with any foreign Power about which the people are net entitled to hear. If ever I have] the honour of being Prime Minister the people shall know everything.

Mr Reid - The honorable member would not let his constituents know of every corn.munication that passed between him and his Ministers.

Mr O'MALLEY - I should at least let them know of all communications with Powers beyond the seas.

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