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Wednesday, 8 June 1904


Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume) - I do not agree with the honorable and learned member for Bendigo that this proposal will not place officers in other States at a disadvantage. I have no doubt -that it will. It tends to create different rates of pay in the service. The object of the classification which has taken place, although I am not quite sure that it has yet been completed


Mr Watson - It will be ready to be gazetted on 1st July.


Sir WILLIAM LYNE - That classification has for its object the readjustment of positions throughout the Public Service of the Commonwealth, and, under it, due regard will be paid to climatic conditions and the cost of living in the various parts of the States. If, as the result of the passing of the Act in question, Commonwealth officers in Victoria are to receive higher salaries than are given to those performing corresponding duties in other parts of the Commonwealth, much dissension will undoubtedly be caused. Applications for increased rates of pay will certainly be made, and more particularly by those stationed northward. ' I agree, however, with the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, that no fears need be entertained in regard to this burden, and that, in the course of a few years, it will disappear. Reference has been made to the question of promotion, and there are many cases in which it may be necessary to abolish offices. In this way we shall be gradually freed from the difficulty.


Sir John Quick - A particular office cannot be abolished.


Sir WILLIAM LYNE - It can.


Sir John Quick -; - That would mean the dismissal of an officer.


Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I do not think that any great difficulty will be encountered. I feel satisfied that discontent can be removed in the course of a little time. I wish now to refer briefly to a matter which has been a source of great trouble ever since the creation of the Department of Home Affairs - the carrying out of public works on behalf of the Commonwealth in the various States. On many occasions during my term, of office as Minister of Home Affairs the responsibility for the delay in carrying out certain works was sought to be thrown on the Department. It was then the practice, as it is now, to ask officers of the Public Works Departments of the States to supervise and carry out certain works on behalf of the Commonwealth ; but in many cases much dissatisfaction was caused, honorable members feeling that reasonable expedition was not shown in carrying out requisite works in their constituencies. That trouble has been to some extent minimised by the appointment of Commonwealth officers in some, if not all, of the States, to supervise the carrying out of some of these works, and report upon the procedure in others. It will probably be some time before we shall have anything in the nature of a complete Public Works Department in all the States, owing to the cost, and also the comparatively small expenditure on Commonwealth public works. Some time ago it was decided that a post-office should be erected at Gundagai, a town in the electorate I represent. I happened to visit that town twice or three times whilst the works were in progress, and I learned that the erection of the building occupied something like twelve months, of which six months or more represented loss of time. That loss of time was due, in my opinion, to the fault of the State officer in charge. The contractor came from another part of New South Wales, and on three or four occasions, when I met him at Gundagai, he was waiting and anxious to go On with the work, but was unable to proceed until the State officer arrived and gave him further directions. In two cases he was delayed in this way for fully a month. When at last he received the necessary instructions, it took him, in the one case, only three days, and in the other, only two days to carry them out.


Mr Mcwilliams - He must have been a very smart officer.

4"


Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Delays of this kind are, to a large extent, due to the feeling entertained by some States officials that Federal public works are not so important as are those of the States. State members are continually on the spot, and urging the Department to expedite States works, and Commonwealth works are consequently delayed, lt will shortly be necessary to make some change, in order that F'ederal works may be carried out as expeditiously as are State undertakings. It is unfair that there should be delay in the construction of Commonwealth public works when there is no such delay in the carrying out of State enterprises.


Sir John Forrest - The residents of the town, to which the honorable member referred, were lucky. If a change of Government had occurred, they would not have secured the erection of the building.


Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I am not referring to the construction of. a battery, although the right honorable member knows that I supported the construction of the battery which he has in his mind's eye.


Sir John Forrest - I am simply referring to the possibility of a new Government undoing the work of their predecessors.


Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I have not sufficiently examined the proposals now before us to enable me to say whether anything of the kind is being done by the Government; but I feel that there is justification for the request for certain expenditure at Perth, Fremantle, and one or twoother places. No doubt the right honorable member for Swan is well able to look after the interests of his constituents. Healways looks after Western Australia.


Mr Groom - And looks after it verv well.


Sir WILLIAM LYNE - If we all did as well in getting money, there would not be much left in the Treasury.


Sir John Forrest - I deny that suggestion.


Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I wish now to deal with the question of the use of military titles, of which so much has been said during the afternoon. It is a matter that might very well be left alone. My feeling is that those who hold commissions in the Militia and Volunteer Forces should be addressed by their civil titles when discharging their ordinary civil duties.


Sir John Forrest - The honorable member did not observe that rule when he was Minister of Home Affairs.


Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I adrah that I sometimes spoke of the Secretary of the Department as "Colonel Miller." I did not address him in that way because I considered that it was necessary to do so ; if one chooses to give a .man his military title, surely no objection can be taken?


Mr Mcwilliams - It is a nice compliment.


Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I agree with the honorable member, but I do not think that public servants should be compelled to address their fellow- servants by their military titles whilst they are discharging their duties as members of the service.


Sir John Forrest - It is only a courtesy.


Sir WILLIAM LYNE - That is really a matter for the person concerned to consider. I do not object at any time to address a man by his title, but it is quite another question when a man demands that he shall be- so addressed, and that is where the trouble arises here..


Sir John Forrest - I do not see any reference in the papers to a demand being made.


Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I have not looked at the papers, but the right honorable gentleman must .know very well that this question was dealt with by the previous Cabinet.


Sir John Forrest - Oh, that is rubbish !


Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I was present, and the right honorable member was also present, at the Cabinet meeting when it was dealt with, and I thought at that time that it was scarcely worth while-


Sir John Forrest - That was about addressing officers in writing by their titles.


Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The right honorable gentleman may think that this is a very serious matter, but I do not. I consider that the Minister has done quite right in taking the course of action which he has done. If there is any objection to be offered to these Estimates, I do not think that it can. be raised on the score of extravagance. In my opinion, the Estimates are most economically framed. They disclose some increases in salaries and some new salaries. The item for the Patent Office is required simply to carry out the provisions of an Act of Parliament. We had to create the office, and the salaries proposed cannot be considered to be at all high. When we come to deal with the Departments in detail it may be necessary to refer to one or two small items of expenditure. If there is any complaint tj be made by honorable members it is a complaint that extreme economy has been practised. Considering that on many occasions lately I had to take the late Treasurer, and also the right honorable member for Swan, to task for extravagance, and that I was the economical member of the late Government, I do not intend to raise any objection to the economies which have been practised in this case. Honorable members and the press have always tried to make out that I have been extremely extravagant. The honorable member for Gippsland has always had a word to say about my good nature and my extravagance.


Mr McLean - The honorable gentleman will admit that I tried to keep him straight.'


Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I think that if my honorable friend ever gets into the Treasury and examines the public accounts, he will find that I have been one of the most economical Ministers that the Commonwealth has had up to the present time. The Min- istry I think, have done well in framing these Estimates as low as they reasonably could. For under existing circumstances it is almost impossible to expect that there should be any large sums of money voted, except for those works which are absolutely essential. Not only in the States have the Governments had to economize, but in the Commonwealth the Government has done what has not been done in the States, that is, it has refrained from borrowing. I desire to say, in order that my opinion shall not be misconstrued, that, if at any time the Parliament decides to go in for veryheavy defence works or for serious extensions of railways, it cannot expect always to be able to provide the money for the purpose out of revenue.


Mr Willis - Can we at any time?


Sir WILLIAM LYNE - It is being done now to a large extent.


Mr Kelly - Does the honorable gentleman think that a forced loan can be treated as revenue?


Sir WILLIAM LYNE -Noi If large works are to be carried out, which will return good interest on the expenditure, it cannot be expected that the money can be provided out of revenue; it will have to be provided out of loan account. I think it is wise at the present time, when it is riot absolutely necessary to carry out these extensive works, to refrain from borrowing, and I hope that we shall continue to do so as long as we reasonably can.







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