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Wednesday, 21 October 1903

Mr MAHON (Coolardie) - The remarks of the honorable member for Dalley require a slight correction. I would point out to the honorable member that the officers of the Par.liament come under the provisions of the Public Service Act, with the exception that the President and Mr. Speaker take the place of the Public Service Commissioner. The point mentioned by the honorable member, in reference to the seniority of the Clerk of the Papers and Accountant upon the staff of this House, deserves a little attention at the hands of the Government. That officer is senior to the officer who discharges similar duties upon the Senate staff, from the point of view of service. Whilst I have no objection to voting the latter an increase, because he is a very deserving and worthy man, it seems to me that if he is raised to the level of our own officer, he will acquire a senior position.

Mr Deakin - No. Our officer has re- Iceived a salary of £420 per annum from an earlier date.

Mr MAHON - But I understand that officers of the Senate always take precedence over those of the House of Representatives.

Mr Deakin - Not in seniority.

Mr MAHON - Upon the question which has been raised by the honorable member for Wide Bay, regarding the overpayment of some of these minor officers, it seems to me that the small reduction which is proposed only serves to throw into greater relief the high salaries which are paid in other quarters. At the same time I do not attach any value to the argument that men could be obtained who would be willing to perform the work for less money. I feel sure that messengers and other officers could be secured' who would be quite satisfied to accept less salaries than those which we are paying at present. But the same argument is applicable to the President, to Mr. Speaker, and the Chairmen of Committees. I believe there are honorable members in this House who would be quite willing to fill those offices for £100 or £200 a year less than is being paid to the present occupants. But no one proposes to apply the strict commercial rule to these positions. We have fixed the salaries for these offices, and they represent prizes of the service, to which efficient and experienced officers have a right to look forward. That being so, we ought not to now scrutinize them too closely. I am perfectly willing to vote the £40 increase which is now proposed, upon the understanding that the Clerk of the Papers and Accountant upon the staff of this House will not lose his seniority. In a trivial matter of this kind, it seems to me that we might well give way to the Senate. At this period of the session the difference is scarcely worth quarrelling about.

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