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Wednesday, 21 October 1903

Mr McDONALD (Kennedy) - I enter my protest against the state of affairs which appears to exist in connexion with the position of the housekeeper and doorkeeper. He is an officer receiving £235 a year who has not even an assistant clerk to attend on him. It seems to me that the Government are sweating him. In the ordinary course of events an officer receiving that salary-

Mr Fisher - Would have a man to attend upon him.

Mr McDONALD - Under this Government it is a wonder that he has not halfadozen. I think that he should have at least two or three clerks in order that his position may be in keeping with that of officers in the service generally.

Sir Malcolm McEacharn - What salary did he receive while in the service of the State?

Mr Deakin - £180 a year, with allowances for fuel, light, and quarters.

Sir MALCOLMMcEACHARN (Melbourne). - I enter my protest against the increase in this salary. The States Parliaments are cutting down the salaries of States officials, and stopping their increments, whereas we are asked, notwithstanding that we have already decided against these increases, to make the salaries of our officials larger.

Mr Deakin - This officer is getting only £4 10s. a week after thirtyyears' service.

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - We have no right to increase these high salaries.

Mr Deakin - High salaries !

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN - The salary now proposed is a considerable increase upon the salary paid to this officer by the State.

Mr Watson - Besides, he has already received an increase of £25 since he was transferred from the service of the State to that of the Commonwealth? Where are these increases going to end?

Mr. FISHER(Wide Bay).- I always listen with a great deal of interest to the remarks of the Prime Minister, and I was astonished that he should refer to this officer's salary as a small one.

Mr Deakin - Surely it is not a high salary.

Mr FISHER - Everything is comparative. What are the duties of a housekeeper? Has a man to serve a long apprenticeship to enable him to perform them? Mechanics, who perhaps constitute the most useful class in the community, have to serve an apprenticeship of from five to six years at a small wage in order to learn their duties, and at the end of that period receive perhaps £3 per week on the average for the time that they are actually working. They are not paid for idle time.

Mr Mauger - Would not the honorable member give them £4 per week if he could ? Why should he try to drag down this man ?

Mr FISHER - I would give every man £4 per week if I could : but, of course, it is impossible. My position is that we should not give special privileges to officers merely because they are employed at the seat of government. I believe that this officer is more entitled to an increase than are those to whom we have just given increases ; but it is absurd to call his salary a paltry one. I say that it is more than sufficient The Senate is overmanned and its officers are overpaid. It is because these officers come into contact with Members of Parliament that they are able to obtain increases. If they were labouring in the distant interior they would probably receive much less pay for much harder work.We cannot raise their salaries without doing injustice to public servants elsewhere, and for that reason I shall vote for a reduction of the item.

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