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Friday, 26 September 1902

Sir MALCOLM MCEACHARN (Melbourne) - I think it would a pity to strike -out this item, in view of the promise which has been given by the Acting Prime Minister.

Mr. SALMON(Laanecoorie). - I was in favour of striking out the item; but after the statement of the Acting Prime Minister, I " do not think that we should be justified in taking that course. I deeply regret the previous vote which was taken ; but a very large 45 v z number of those who voted against the proposal to reduce the item of £600 cannot conscientiously, I think, refuse to accept the offer made by the Government.

Mr. JOSEPHCOOK (Parramatta).- I appeal to the honorable member for Coolgardie to withdraw his motion, because it is quite clear from what has been said that the Government do not intend to appoint this clerk to the higher position. Supposing he was the fittest man who could be found, if the Government will not appoint him to the position, there is an end to the matter. If we refuse to vote this salary he will have to go about his business, I presume, until some work can be found for him to do. We ought not to deal in that way with an officer who has been brought over from a State service. Since the Government have promised to transfer him to another position whenever an opportunity arises, the least we can do is to continue his salary until that can be done.

Mr. SYDNEYSMITH (Macquarie).This officer was transferred from New South Wales, and he was specially selected by Lord Hopetoun on account of his exceptional ability to fill the position. I am informed on very good authority that he is an excellent officer. It would be a great pity if an injury were done to an officer who has served the State of New South Wales and also the Commonwealth in such an exceptional manner as has been stated. I hope that he will suffer no injustice as he might do if this motion were carried. I suggest that he might be considered in connexion with the appointment of secretary if he is competent to discharge the duties ; but until that question is settled, he should be allowed to remain in his present position.

Mr. JOSEPHCOOK (Parramatta).The statement made by the honorable member for Macquarie, if correct, puts a new aspect on this matter. If Lord Hopetoun specially selected this officer to come over to Melbourne, the question arises whether he was in the service of New South Wales at all.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I believe that Lord Hopetoun made a request for his services.

Sir George Turner - He filled a similar position in the office of the Governor of New South Wales.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - What had Lord Hopetoum to do with sending this officer over to Melbourne? I hope that he did not go about the departments for officers to come over here, and do this kind of work. It would have beeninfra dig. on his part to make a request for any officer, and if I thought for a moment that he did so, I should have a very different impression of him from what I have. We might leave the salary of this officer alone until something else can be found for him to do.

Mr. MAHON(Coolgardie). - I am inclined to think that the fears expressed by the honorable member for Macquarie of any injustice being done to this officer are purely groundless. That is not my intention, nor will it be the effect of my motion if it is carried. It is quite optional with the Government to promote the officer to the position of secretary. After the high testimonials which have been given by Lord Hopetoun, the Acting Prime Minister and other honorable members, I feel certain that the officer, whom I do not know, must be eminently qualified for the post. When the Government can reduce the cost of this department by the substantial sum of £350 a year, they have no shadow of excuse for not appointing him. Supposing that the item were omitted theremustbe other positions to whichhe could be transferred almost immediately. Neither on one ground nor on the other is there any excuse for allowing the item to remain. Honorable members who are continually talking about the necessity for economy will expose themselves to a charge of inconsistency if they vote against my amendment, which is intended to effect a saving of expenditure, and at the same time to secure promotion for a deserving officer.

Mr.R. EDWARDS (Oxley).- I have no personal knowledge of the gentleman whose salary is under discussion. The only question in my mind is whether there is work sufficient to justify us in paying this officer a salary of £325 per annum. If the Acting Prime Minister is prepared to assure us that it is absolutely necessary that we should have a clerk in the office, I shall support the item.

Mr Deakin - It is necessary to have a clerk in the office, but I have promised to replace the present occupant of the position, as soon as he can be transferred, with a clerk at about £100 per annum.

Amendment negatived.

Amendment (by Mr. McDonald) proposed -

That the item, "Travelling expenses of honorary Ministers, being for actual expenses incurred, £100" be omitted.

Mr DEAKIN - Rather than have a debate upon this item of £100, I prefer to withdraw it. I am sorry that the work of honorary Ministers is not better appreciated.

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