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Wednesday, 1 October 1902

Mr BATCHELOR (South Australia) - It is just the distribution of this expenditure which is causing all the trouble. I desire to draw attention to the curious method in which these salaries are arranged. There is a Chief Clerk provided for at £500 a year. It will be admitted that the office of a chief clerk is not a technical one, requiring a highly qualified officer. Then when we come to deal with the Chief Draughtsman who will have the preparation of the plans of all the important buildings constructed for the Commonwealth, involving an expenditure of many hundreds of thousands of pounds, and in some cases of scores of thousands of pounds for a particular building, we find that an officer is expected to do that work at £300 a year. Then we are to have Superintendents of Works at a salary not exceeding £600 a year.

Sir William Lyne - I admit the anomaly in the case of the Chief Draughtsman, but I am not prepared to recommend an increase this year.

Mr BATCHELOR - The anomaly appears to me to be a remarkable one. I put it to the Minister that these Superintendents of Works are merely clerks of works.

Sir William Lyne - No ; they will all be professional men, though they may act as clerks of works.

Mr BATCHELOR - As a matter of fact they will have to look after the construction and erection of buildings in the various States, and it seems to me that, if we are going to pay them £600 a year, we will have superior men who will not act as clerks of works, and we shall have to pay other persons to do that work.

Mr Watson - Are not these officers all to be clerks of works ?

Mr BATCHELOR - Does the honorable member desire that we should have officers who shall be architects, engineers, and superintendents rolled into one. We have one great architect for the Commonwealth receiving the magnificent salary of £300 a year ; and, as a man who is paid such a salary as that will have to work very hard for it, there will be no necessity for other architects. These officers will not be architects, but clerks of works.

Sir William Lyne - No; they will nearly all be architects.

Mr BATCHELOR - Do we require an architect in each State.

Sir William Lyne - We do in the larger States. I hope to make a combination inthe case of two, if not three, of the smaller States.

Mr BATCHELOR - I desire that the public works staff should be organized on something like an intelligent scale. It is certainly not an intelligent scale to have a Chief Draughtsman at £300, and a Chief Clerk at £500 a year, and subordinate architects getting twice the salary paid to the chief. I understand from the Minister that the reason why South Australia is not to have a Superintendent of Works-

Sir William Lyne - I do not know whether she is or not. I think the officer will not be a full superintendent. The officer employed will probably do the work of the Federal Government and of the State Government as well. The honorable member will see that there are four down at £600 a year. I hope to save enough on the vote to pay for more than four officers.

Mr BATCHELOR - There will be half the salary paid to some officers who will be largely employed by the State Governments?

Sir William Lyne - Yes.

Mr BATCHELOR - Am I to understand that that proposal came from the Premier of South Australia ?

Sir William Lyne - Yes, and from Mr. Bird,the Treasurer of Tasmania.

Mr BATCHELOR - I should like to ask the honorable gentleman whether in proposing that arrangement the Premier of South Australia was aware that this would be " new " expenditure, and that he would save nothing from the revenue of his State by the arrangement ? Was it pointed out that while South Australia indulged in a policy of self-abnegation it would have to contribute to the salary of the Superintendents without having the benefit of their services ? If not it might be as well thatit should be pointed out, and then this anxiety for economy for other States might not be so apparent.

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