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Tuesday, 30 September 1902

Mr McCAY (Corinella) - I desire to have some explanation in regard to the item " Travelling expenses, £650." I confess that I do not understand it.

Mr Reid - That is for the parliamentary circumnavigation of the Australian continent.

Mr McCAY - The peripatetic method again. I presume that the item refers to the travelling expenses of the adminstrative staff. It seems to me that the adminstrative staff will not have time to do their work, if they are allowed to spend £650 a year in travelling.

Mr Reid - It is a mere flea-bite to this department.

Mr McCAY - Without in any way attributing extravagance to the Minister, I must say that when I come to the Estimates of the Department for Home Affairs, I always look at the items, and the sums set opposite them.

Mr Salmon - The amount is £68 less than that provided last year.

Mr McCAY - That is a kind of negative merit. It may mean merely that the position is better than last year. The AttorneyGeneral's staff is satisfied with £100, while the Treasurer allows his staff to have only £75 worth of travelling in the course of a year. I therefore cannot understand how the administrative staff of the Department for Home Affairs can require to travel so much.

Mr Watson - Does the amount include the cost of travelling by inspectors under the Public Service Act?

Mr McCAY - No; there is a sum of £1,500 provided for the expenses of inspectors under the Public Service Act whose business it is to travel.

Sir Malcolm McEacharn - And £400 for the public works staff.

Mr McCAY - I can understand the expenditure in the case of the sub-department of the public service and in the case of the Public Works branch, but not in regard to the administrativestaff of the department for Home Affairs. The Treasurer has a staff of sixteen officers, and he allows them £75 to travel. . Yet we find that an administrative staff of sixteen in the department for Home Affairs requires £650 to travel on. I should be glad to hear some of the items from tlie Minister, because this seems to rae, as at present advised, to be a very extreme amount.

Sir William Lyne - The honorable and learned member will see that it was £718 last year.

Mr McCAY - Yes ; but that does not prove anything, except that it was too much last year.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - This amount is to cover official travelling in connexion with a great many, matters. I heard it stated the other night that Ministers received travelling expenses, but I know that I have received none. But when an officer travels with me upon official duties he gets his travelling expenses. These officers have had on many occasions to go to States to deal, with matters which have had to be inquired into on the spot, and the whole of the travelling expenses involved are included in this sum of £650. The honorable and learned member has said that £718 was too much to vote last year, and he will be glad to hear that we hope to be able to get through the present year with; less. A good deal of work has to be done in Sydney, and in connexion with one or two matters I have had to send officers over upon two or three occasions. I have had to borrow officers from Sydney in connexion with matters to be dealt with here. Their expenses backwards and forwards have had to be paid, and all those expenses come out of this amount which I consider reasonable for the department.

Mr McCay - It is equivalent to fifteen months travelling for one officer at a very generous rate.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I have not gone into that calculation, but honorable members will believe me when I say that a very great deal of care is exercised in preventing undue travelling expenses. After the votes have gone through my economical hands, I have a battle royalwith' the Treasurer before I can get them through his hands. . Honorable members will therefore see that they are cut down as low as possible, and I hope they will not attempt to reduce this vote. I cannot at the present moment describe all the little matters connected with travelling, but officers have had to travel backwards and forwards to Sydney, and once or twice to Adelaide, and in doing so they necessarily incur expense.

Sir Malcolm McEacharn - Is there any scale of remuneration provided ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Yes, the payments are all made in accordance with a scale.

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