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Friday, 24 June 1904

Mr DEAKIN - I shall be obliged' if the Prime Minister will inform the House of the exact significance of the reply he gave to a question asked by the honorable member for Echuca last night, that the Public Service Commissioner's classification has been accepted by the Government. Does that mean that the Order in Council confirming it has passed ?

Mr Watson - Yes.

Mr DEAKIN - That being 50, the action of the Government was at least precipitate, because its effect is that the classification is now law. Do I understand that the forthcoming Estimates will be based upon it?

Mr Watson - Yes.

Mr Crouch - r-The House was informed that the classification would not be in print until Tuesday last.

Mr DEAKIN - I confess that Ministers were placed in an embarrassing position because of the late period of the session at which the classification is published ; but, now that it has become law, I wish to know whether the Prime Minister considers it necessary to afford the House an opportunity to discuss it, other than that3 which will be afforded, either generally or in detail, when the Estimates are submitted. No more important executive act ' has been done by the Commonwealth Government than the passing of the Order in Council ratifying this classification. It is important, not only because it affects the personal interests of at least 12,000 persons, but because the whole of the taxpayers are deeply concerned in its financial operation. From whichever standpoint it is regarded, the classification is sure to be much criticised in detail. It is based upon a set of principles which the Government by Order in Council have adopted, but which this House has not yet had an opportunity of knowing. We do not know in the least upon what principles the classification is based. I have the greatest confidence in the Public Service Commissioner.

Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is the honorable and learned member going to debate the whole question?

Mr DEAKIN - If honorable members are so little seized of the importance of the question I am putting-

Mr Willis - We shall all want to debate the subject if the .honorable and learned member does so.

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