Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Thursday, 14 July 1904

Mr JOHNSON (Lang) - I desire to bring under the notice of the House some matters connected with the Public Service classification scheme. ' I . think that the subject is worthy of consideration. I have no wish to bring forward any grievances on behalf of individual members of the service who believe themselves to be adversely affected by the scheme. Rather do I wish to deal with it in a broad and general sense by presenting a comparison of disparities which appear to me to exist between the salaries paid to officers in different States, and having relation more particularly to New South Wales and Victoria. The officers to whom I refer are engaged in similar occupations, and are performing similar work. I do not in any way desire to reflect upon the impartiality or the competency of the Public Service Commissioner. I recognise that in classifying the Public Service he undertook an extremely onerous - indeed, a most formidable - task. I recognise also that, with every desire to be perfectly fair and to mete out justice to all, there must necessarily, in a classification involving so very large a number of officers, creep in some anomalies that will subsequently require to be adjusted. It is with a view of calling attention to those matters, which seem to me to merit re-adjustment, or call for explanation, which probably will be easily forthcoming - matters which, at first sight, to the ordinary observer, savour of injustice - that I introduce the subject. I understood that the idea of the Commissioner, in dealing with the Public Service was, on the one hand, to avoid, as far as possible, dismissing employes, and, on the other hand, to avoid, as far as possible, reducing existing salaries. But, whilst recognising that those are very good guiding principles to follow, it seems to me that some other considerations which might have been held in view were not taken into account. It is from no feeling of unfriendliness towards the Commissioner, nor from any lack of appreciation of the tremendous nature of his task, and the extreme difficulty involved in fulfilling it satisfactorily to all classes, that I approach the question. With a view of enabling the House to see that disparities do exist, and in order that, if honorable members see fit* they may ask for an explanation, I shall submit a comparative statement. In passing, I may remark upon the significant fact, which ought not to be lost sight of, that, whereas in 1895, in the State of New South Wales, the members of the Public Service were subjected to a drastic scheme of retrenchment, in order to enable the Ministry of the day to show a saving of a quarter of a . million upon that year's finances, on the other hand the Victorian officers had, just prior to the act of Federation, been the subject of special legislation, with a view to give them an increase in their salaries.

Mr Tudor - So had the New South Wales officers, as the Commissioner points out in his report.

Mr JOHNSON - I understand that that is not correct, at any rate so far as the Customs officers of New South Wales are concerned. It is with that Department that I intend more particularly to deal. The Customs officers at the present time are suffering from the same disability as they suffered from previously. That is to say, whilst the reduction in salaries to which I have referred was made to meet the exigencies of the situation then existing in New South Wales, no attempt was subsequently made to restore their salaries to the amounts which were paid prior to the reductions being made. In September of last year, the honorable and learned member for Illawarra called the attention of the -House to disparities then existing. Since that time those officers who consider that they are injuriously affected have been looking forward with hope to this scheme of classification, to relieve them from what they believe to be an injustice. Examining the comparative statement, which I have before me, it seems that there is real ground for believing that a change ought to be made, at any rate in regard to some officers. I do not wish to complain that the Victorian officers are being paid too highly. I suppose that it is only reasonable to assume that if they are receiving high rates of pay in comparison with those received by similar officers in New South Wales, the Victorian officers earn their salaries. But if what the Victorian officers "are receiving is a fair remuneration for the work they are performing, it is reasonable to argue that New South Wales officers who are performing exactly similar duties are entitled to the same rates of pay.

Mr Spence - They may have been a shorter time in the service.

Mr JOHNSON - That may be one explanation.. Indeed, I believe that in many cases some of the Victorian officers have been a longer time in the service than the New South Wales officers. But it must be recollected that they are in exactly the same grade as are the New South Wales officers.

Mr Batchelor - Would it not necessarily follow that, the New South Wales officers having been ' a shorter time in the service, they are at the bottom of their grade ?

Mr JOHNSON - That argument does not appear to me to hold good throughout, though I am free to admit that in some cases it is sound. I may say at once that I am not personally interested in this question. I am not voicing any individual grievance. I know very few of those who are connected with the service personally. I have not been approached in this matter. I have certainly had conversations with one or two friends of mine who happen to be in the service, and have asked for and obtained certain particulars from them, but so far as concerns the general body of those who are interested, they are absolute strangers to me, and I have had no communication with them of any kind. I will pass immediately to a statement of the difference that exists, and which seems to me to require explanation. I have here a comparative statement, showing the Customs and Excise revenue collected in New South Wales and in Victoria during the financial year 1902-3, and the amount estimated to be collected in the financial year 1903-4; together with the salaries paid to a number of " officers performing similar duties in each State. In New South Wales the Customs and Excise collections for the financial year 1902-3 amounted to £3,478,742, and for the year 1903-4 the estimate was £3,125,000. In Victoria last year the amount of revenue collected was £2,499,014. There was an excess of revenue collected in New South Wales of .£979,728, or, roughly speaking, close upon a million over the amount collected in Victoria. According to the estimate for this year, Victoria was expected to yield £2,400,000, as against £3,125,000 in New South Wales; showing a surplus in the estimate of revenue for New South Wales of £825,000, or considerably over three-quarters of a million. These figures I obtained in June, but the actual revenue returns .for 1903-4 have since been published, which show the New South Wales revenue to be £789,057 in excess of that of Victoria. Seeing that the amount of revenue collected in New South Wales is so much larger than the amount collected in Victoria, one would naturally suppose that there must be a larger amount of work performed in New South Wales than in Victoria. Yet, I find that the cost of collection in Victoria is far in excess of the cost of collection in New South Wales, and in most instances the salaries paid to Victorian officers are on a much higher scale than those paid to New South Wales officers. There are, however, some exceptions.

Mr Mauger - The Victorian officers complain that the grievance is in the opposite direction.

Mr JOHNSON - I will give the House the figures, so that honorable members, may judge for themselves. The one noteable instance to the contrary is that of the salary paid to the Collector of Customs in New South Wales, as compared with the salary paid to the Collector of Customs in Victoria. I find that prior to the presentation of the classification scheme the salary of the Collector of Customs in New South Wales was £920 a year. Under that scheme it remains at the same figure. I do not complain of that. If, however, the work which requires to be done in this Department in Victoria is of a more arduous character than that which needs to 'be performed in New South Wales, it seems very peculiar that the Victorian Collector ' of Customs should receive a very much lower salary than the New South Wales Collector, especially as the whole of the officers under the latter receive very much smaller salaries than do those who are under the former. That" is one point which requires explanation. I do not say that it is not capable of a reasonable explanation. I merely contend that the House is entitled to know the reason for this peculiar discrepancy. The salary which was paid to the Collector of Customs in Victoria prior to the classification scheme was £750. Under that scheme he will receive £800 - an increase of £50 a year.

Mr Batchelor - Does the honorable member think that this House is capable of entering into all these details, and satisfactorily adjusting them?

Mr JOHNSON - I do not say that. I merely wish to show that these discrepancies exist, and I think that the Commissioner might be asked to supply the House with information relating to them. I have no doubt - seeing the immense amount of work which that officer has undertaken in the compilation of the classification scheme - that he will be able to offer a reasonable explanation of them, and one which will allay the large amount of irritation which undoubtedly exists in the Customs service in New South Wales at the present time.

Sir William Lyne - Was not Dr. Wollaston the Collector of Customs in Victoria prior to Federation ? The present occupant of that position was not the Collector at that time.

Mr JOHNSON - I only know that the Collector of Customs in New South Wales and the Collector pf Customs in Victoria do not receive anything like the same salaries. The latter draws very much less than the former, whereas the general officers in the Customs Department in Victoria are in receipt of much larger salaries than are officers in the New South Wales Department.

Sir William Lyne - The honorable member quoted the salary which is paid to the present Collector of Customs in Victoria and that which was previously paid to him. I think that Dr. Wollaston received a much higher salary. The individual referred to by the honorable member was not the Collector when Federation was accomplished. Mr. JOHNSON.- That is a matter beyond my knowledge. I can only deal with the figures that are before me, with the salary that was paid just prior to the classification scheme - irrespective of the identity of the individual who occupied the office - and with the salary which is now paid. Then, in Victoria there is an inspector of accounts, whilst in New South Wales there is no such officer. This official receives a salary of £650 a year. There appears to be no similar post in New South Wales. When we add together the salaries of these two Victorian officers, we find that they receive . £1,450, as against £920 received by the. Collector of Customs in New South Wales; Presumably the Collector in that State has also to perform the work of inspector of accounts. That is another matter which requires explanation. In the instance to which I have referred, it will be seen that the salaries paid to Victorian officers exceed those paid to New South Wales officers by £530. I find, also, that in the correspondence branch in Victoria there is a chief clerk, whereas in New South Wales, where a larger amount of revenue has to be collected, and where presumably more work requires to be done, there is no such officer. In Victoria the Chief Clerk receives a salary of £750. He received the same salary prior to the classification. In this State there is also a clerk who receives £360 a year. Thus a total of £1,130 is divided between these two officers. As against that, there is no chief clerk in the correspondence branch in New South Wales, but there is a clerk who is paid £350 per annum. That officer has received no increase since the classification scheme was gazetted. I come now to the payment of inspectors in another branch of the Customs Department. I do not know whether there are any first-class inspectors in New South Wales. I am informed that, though they are classified as such, there is really no such grade. At any rate, an inspector in one class in New South Wales receives £700 per annum. Prior to the gazetting of the classification scheme a first-class inspector in Victoria received £560 per annum, but since then he receives £580 - an increase of £20 per annum. Another first-class inspector in this State draws £520, whereas previously he was paid only £460. These two Victorian officers, therefore, receive £1,100 annually - an excess of £165 over the aggregate salaries paid to similar officers in New South Wales. I understand that the general idea of the classification scheme is that where large salaries were previously paid to Victorian officers, as compared with officers performing similar work in New South Wales, the latter should be allowed to work up' to the level of the salary received by the former. If that be so, it does not seem to be borne out by the results, because the average increases all through the Victorian grades are on a very much higher scale than are the average increases paid in- New South Wales. In the case of second-class inspectors,I find that under the classification' scheme the same salary continues to be paid as formerly, namely, £485 and £450 respectively. These officers' have to ' perform the same kind of work as is performed by the first class inspectors in Victoria, at least so I am informed, who receive £580 and £520 respectively, one' of whom has received an increase of £20 per annum, and the other an increase of £60. That seems to me to 'furnish another case which requires explanation. Why should second class officers in New South Wales, who are in receipt of a lower rate of. pay, be called upon to do exactly similar work to that performed by first class officers in Victoria, who were previously in receipt of a much higher salary, and who have been given a further increase under the classification scheme, whereas the New South Wales officers have been granted -no increase what- ever? My attention has been also directed to the case of one officer in this Department, with whom I am not personally acquainted. There seems to be a unanimity of opinion amongst' those in the service that this officer, who, as a second class inspector, receives £485 in New South Wales, is one of the smartest, if not the smartest officer in the Customs service. I understand that he is a Victorian transferred officer.

Mr Tudor - Does the honorable member know his name?

Mr JOHNSON - I do not.

Mr Fisher - Is he one of the three Victorian transferred officers?

Mr JOHNSON - I understand so ; but I cannot say with certainty. I notice that the " Excise inspector, first class," prior to classification, received £300 per annum, and that he is now to receive an increase ' of £60, whereas the officer who. occupies a similar position in Victoria received £535, prior to classification, and that under that scheme he still retains that salary. Although the New South Wales- officer has received an increase of £60, under the classification scheme, his salary stands only at £360, as against £535 which. is paid to the Victorian officer holding a similar position. That is to say the latter receives £175 in excess Of the former, whose work is apparently very much heavier. It must also be remembered that the New South Wales officer . collects , £250,000 more revenue than does the Victorian official, besides having sole control of the collection of the sugar bounty* which represents about £40,000 per annum. I understand, further, that he has to discharge other duties connected with the sale of duty stamps, which the officer holding a corresponding position in Victoria is not called upon to perform. In that case the official who is receiving the smaller salary is apparently doing a much greater amount of work. I am prepared to recognise that, owing to the protective duties which operated in Victoria during the period when New. South Wales enjoved practically a free-trade tariff, there may have been very much more work to do in the Victorian Customs Department prior to Federation than there was in that Department in New South Wales. But since the imposition of uniform duties 'there has been a very large increase in the work imposed upon officers in the New South Wales Department. That fact is apparent from a perusal of the comparative statement which I hold in my hand, and it is con firmed by the reports of those who are engaged in that service. ' They have been; obliged to work much longer hours, and In many cases they have not received anything whatever in the nature of overtime payments for their services. In the accounts branch, I find that the accountant in New South Wales at present receives £450, which was the amount of his salary prior to the compilation of the classification scheme. In Victoria, prior to the classification, a similar officer received £485, but his salarv has now been advanced by an increase of £15 to £500, .

Mr Tudor - The Victorian officer has had five years' more service than the New South Wales officer has had.

Mr JOHNSON - That may be the explanation.

Mr Frazer - The same explanation may apply, to a number of 'these cases.

Mr JOHNSON - It may. That is what I wish to get at.

Mr Frazer - If the honorable member will refer to the classified list, he will see there the reason for these differences.

Mr JOHNSON - I believe that, in a number of cases, the explanation given by the honorable member for Yarra does not apply.

Mr Spence - Why does not the honorable member; interview the Commissioner on the subject? He would explain everything.

Mr JOHNSON - The disparities in regard to other officers in the accounts branch are not so great as to call for special notice. Taking the clerks in the warehouse branch, I . find that, prior ' to the classification, the salaries of the New South Wales officials ranged from £500 to £50, and of the Victorian officials from £485 to £235. The. Commissioner has given increases of £20, £5, and-£io respectively to three of the clerks in New South Wales, whereas four of the clerks in Victoria have received increases of £15, and three others increases of £25, so that the total cost of the Department in New South Wales is £1,645, while the cost of the Victorian Department is £2,890. Therefore, similar work costs £1,285 more in Victoria than it is done for in New South Wales. My view is that invidious distinctions should not be made between officers who are similarly engaged.

Mr McCay - Does the honorable member mean to say that the boy who is getting £50 in New South Wales is doing the same work as the man who is receiving £260 in Victoria ?

Mr JOHNSON - I am not prepared to assert absolutely that the two officials are doing similar work. The point is one upon which I am willing to be set right, though I am informed by the officers of the Department that the work is the same. I do not propose to refer in detail to the salaries paid to the officials in the long room, beyond stating that the total salaries paid in New South Wales since the classification amount to £1,680, as against £2,085 paid m Victoria. The same number of officers are engaged iri each State, and the work performed is similar ; but the- Victorian Department costs £405 more than the New South Wales Department. In the Statistical branch there are similar disparities. I do not know even the name of the gentleman who occupies the position of clerkincharge in New South Wales, though I understand that he was formerly a Victorian officer. Prior to the classification he re- 'ceived £325, but his salary has since been increased by £35 to £360. He is, however, doing exactly the same work as a brother officer in Victoria, and I understand was singled out, on account of his exceptional ability, to visit the various States, and instruct the officers there upon the manner in which the statistical work of the Customs Department should be performed. The Victorian officer whom he thus instructed in his duties was receiving, prior to the classification, £360 per annum, and his salary has been advanced by £20 to £380 per annum. In the Jerquer's branch, the clerk-in-charge in New South Wales receives £285, as against £380 paid to the Victorian officer; and an increase of £5 has been made to the New South Wales salary, as against an increase of £20 to the already much higher Victorian salary. The disparities in regard to boarding inspectors and examining officers, both in regard to the number and rates of . increases paid to Victorian officers as compared with those given to New South Wales officers are very great. In New South Wales, fortyseven officers do for £14,415 what fortynine officers in Victoria do for £19,255 ; the increases granted in the former State amounting to £34°, and in the latter State to £576. That seems to be a strange way of putting New South Wales officers on a level with Victorian officers. The Chief Clerk and Inspector of Accounts in Victoria receive £750 and £650 respectively. If those officers are necessary in Victoria, they would appear to be necessary in New

South Wales, because I understand similar work is done by the branches in the two States, but there are no such officers in New South Wales. In Victoria, thirteen examiners receive £5,120, while in New South Wales the same number are paid only £4,290. In Victoria the Excise Inspector is paid £535, 'while in New South Wales a similar officer gets only £360. Moreover, in New South Wales the assistant inspectors, who, prior to the classification, were paid only £170 a year, now get £185 a year, while the Victorian fourth-class inspectors, who, prior to classification, were paid £210 each per annum, now get £235 per annum, an increase in the first case of £15, and in the second case of £20.

Mr McCay - Does the honorable member contend that the two classes of officers do the same work, and have the- same responsibilities ?

Mr JOHNSON - I cannot speak from actual knowledge, but so far as I understand, the assistant inspectors in New South Wales have to discharge much more onerous duties than have the fourth class inspectors in Victoria. That is the' reason why my attention has been called to the disparity in the salaries, There is only one first class inspector in New South Wales at £7 00 Per annum, whilst, in Victoria, there are two. This is strange, in view of the fact that the volume of work in New South Wales is much larger than in Victoria. The Victorian officers receive salaries of £580 and £520 respectively, or a total of £1,100, and perform less work than has to be undertaken by one official in NewSouth Wales at a cost of £400 per annum less ; at least, that is the position as I understand it.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does the honorable member suggest that the one officer in New South Wales does more work than the two officers in Victoria?

Mr JOHNSON - I am informed that the work of the officer in New South Wales is heavier than that of the two officers in Victoria. Even though the work were equal, there would still be a very large margin of difference in the remuneration. There are two second class inspectors in New South Wales, at salaries of £485 and £450 respectively, making a total of £935. These officers, I find, are not down for any increase, although they do work similar to that performed by two first class inspectors in Victoria, who receive salaries amounting to £1,100 per annum, and who are down for increases of £20 and £60 respectively.

Mr McCay - What is the source of the honorable member's information?

Mr JOHNSON - I have every reason to believe that it is reliable, but I do not wish to give names.

Mr McCay - I do not desire to hear any names, but I would point out that there may be unconscious bias on the part of the honorable member's informant.

Mr JOHNSON - I am perfectly free to admit that possibility, but my information comes from reliable officers connected with the service, and I think that it is my duty to direct the attention of honorable members to the facts, so that they may deal with them in whatever way they think fit.

Mr Fisher - Does not the honorable member think it would be better to lay them before the Public Service Commissioner ?

Mr JOHNSON - I have already had a conversation with the Commissioner on some of these points, but I have not been able to enter into all the details with him. It is in the interests of the Commissioner, as well as of the Public Service, that reasons should be forthcoming for the discrepancies which have given rise to so much dissatisfaction in all branches of the service. I do not wish to bring any personal grievances before the House until the right of appeal by public servants has been exercised. So many appeals are likely to be brought forward that fully two years will elapse before they can all be investigated, and I think that, in the meantime, honorable members are entitled to have some information with regard to the apparent anomalies in the classification. If such information were made public it might lead to the withdrawal of some of the appeals already sent in or induce some officers to abstain from appealing.

Mr Spence - Does the honorable member propose to ask the House to make an investigation ?

Mr JOHNSON - No; but I think that the matters to which I have referred should be brought under the notice of the Public Service Commissioner, in order that he may explain disparities which to the ordinary observer may appear singular.

Mr Fisher - Why not allow the Commissioner to finish his work?

Mr JOHNSON - I do not see how I am interfering with the Commissioner. I have no desire to reflect upon him, or to even appear to do so. I am not in any way hindering him in his work, but, rather, I am providing material which may assist him in his investigations. He may, of his own volition, think it right to make inquiries, and to apply any remedy that may be necessary before the appeals are dealt with. I think that in furnishing these figures, I am supplying the Commissioner with information which will probably be of service to him.

Mr Frazer - Does the honorable mem- ber assume that he knows more than the Commissioner about the salaries which should be paid?

Mr JOHNSON - I am not assuming anything of the -kind, but I am directing attention to cases which have come under my notice, and which appear to me to require explanation. The Commissioner must admit that in carrying out such a large work as that involved in the classification some injustice may have been done, even with the utmost desire to act justly, a desire by which I believe him to have been actuated.

Mr Frazer - That is why provision was made for appeals.

Mr JOHNSON - Quite so. But there will be so many appeals that if they are taken in rotation many protests which have no justification will occupy a great amount of time to the exclusion of appeals, which will probably be sustained. It would be unreasonable to expect the Commissioner to know everything about every individual case. He must have had to rely to a very large extent upon the reports of his officers, and in connexion with such reports, we have to take into account the possibility of conscious or unconscious bias creeping in and swaying an officer's judgment in making a recommendation. I think that the figures which I have quoted will enable the Commissioner to investigate certain cases, and, perhaps, apply the remedy without any further trouble. I do not propose to deal with the Excise Department in detail, because another honorable member will address himself more particularly to that branch of the service. It will be noted that the Victorian fourthclass excise inspectors are paid salaries higher than those provided for the third class inspectors in New South Wales. For example, the highest salary paid to a thirdclass inspector in New South Wales is £260, whilst the highest salary paid to a Victorian officer in the fourth class is £325. The same disparity exists in regard to the lowest salaries. The smallest salary paid to a third-class inspector in New South Wales is £140, whereas the lowest salary paid to a fourth-class inspector in Victoria... is £235. , There is" only one firstclass examining officer in New South Wales at a salary of £360, whereas in Victoria there are nine examining officers of the first class. ' The. .lowest salary paid 'to such officers in Victoria is £20 higher than that paid to the first-class examining officer jil. .New South .Wales;, the Victorian -salaries'-: ranging . .from. £380 to £48.5. it1. .' is r. .worthy ?. of .'consideration that although there is only . one first-class examining officer in New South Wales as against nine officers of similar grade in Victoria, the former State collects more excise duty than any other two States. Fully 75 per cent, of this duty is collected on the basis of the work done by the examining and excise officers, who are peculiarly exposed to temptation to enrich themselves at the public expense.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - There must be other officers in New South Wales, under different designations, who perform the same class of work that is undertaken by the firstclass examining officers in Victoria.

Mr JOHNSON - If so, I have not been ;able to discover them. Officers who hold positions such as I have described, must be implicitly trusted, because if they were disposed to dishonesty they could seriously defraud the revenue.

Mr Fisher - I hope that the honorable member is not using that as an argument. I expect every officer to be trustworthy, whatever his salary might be.

Mr JOHNSON - I am using that as an argument in favour of the payment of higher salaries to the New South Wales officers. That is a consideration to which attention is paid in commercial life, and experience has shown that officers holding responsible positions in banks and mercantile houses at inadequate salaries have, in many cases, proved most expensive to their emplovers. Passing now to the Post Office department, the position of postmasters who are compelled to work overtime on Sundays, without receiving any additional pay, is also worth v of consideration. I do not know what is the position in Victoria, but I presume it is the same as that which prevails in New South Wales. There many postmasters cannot leave their offices on Sunday afternoons. They have to remain on duty for hours collecting and sorting mails for despatch by various carriers and do not receive one penny in the way of additional remuneration. On the ' other hand, -those employed in going from office to office to collect the mail-bags on Sundays are granted overtime. This savours somewhat of an invidious distinction between two classes of officers. If it be right to pay one class of officers overtime in respect of Sunday 'work, it is surely reasonable that other officers should be treated in the same way. Many postmasters occupy Government premises, and a percentage reduction by way of rental is made from their salaries.


Mr JOHNSON - We have to remember, however, that they are held responsible for the care of the building. They have to see that the properties they occupy are kept in proper repair, and to undertake responsibilities usually devolving on caretakers. Tenants of private properties are not expected to have regard to these matters. A landlord is generally supposed, to attend to repairs.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - They formerly had the full rental deducted from their salaries, but in consideration of the facts which the honorable member has just mentioned, it was determined that a reduction of 10 per cent, should be made from their salary by way of .rental.

Mr JOHNSON - I was not aware of' that, and I am glad to have the honorable member's explanation, because it seems to place another aspect on this question.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The whole question was debated when the 'Bill was before the House.

Mr JOHNSON - Although I have considered it advisable to bring these various points before the House, I recognise that in a scheme of classification of this magnitude, some injustices are unavoidable. I have been reminded that there are officers in the Customs Department who to-day receive salaries that were paid to them twenty years ago. That certainly seems singular. I mentioned the matter to the Commissioner, and he gave me the explanation that when these salaries were paid twenty years ago the officers receiving them had to perform duties that were actually more arduous than they are now called upon to discharge ; that whereas, these officers then had to do all the work relating to their branch of the service, they have now many assistants who relieve them of a large part of these duties. As against that aspect of the case, we must remember that these officers have now the responsibility of supervising the work, of the additional employes, and the increased responsibility attaching to the expansion of the volume of trade. If an officer be fully capable of satisfactorily performing his duties, and no complaint can be made against him, it seems on the face of it to be rather hard that he should still be receiving the salary that was paid him twenty years ago. Whilst I recognise, so far as I have been able to judge, the generally satisfactory condition of the work of the Public Service Commissioner, I think that even he will be prepared to admit . that in so extensive a work as the classification scheme some anomalies and injustices must occur, and that they are capable of re-adjustment without resort being had to the right of appeal. I also recognise that of the great mass of appeals that will be lodged probably 90 per cent, will be found to be groundless and will be disallowed. It may be that, as is very often the case in other walks of life, those who are really better off than ever they were before, or had any right to expect to be under the classification, will be loudest in their complaints. I have no sympathy whatever with such officers. When their cases come before the Appeal Board - if they are so rash as to push their appeals to that tribunal - they doubtless will, on examination, be relegated to the place to which they properly belong. In many cases it will probably be found on investigation that officers, even in the lower grades of the service in New South Wales, are receiving higher salaries than, their services are actually worth, while in others the appeals will, no doubt, be allowed. There are, on the other hand, however, many cases in New South Wales which deserve fuller investigation,- and more liberal treatment than they have yet received. I have ventilated these matters in the hope that the Commissioner will take them in hand; and also because of a desire to give the Chamber some information that I considered might be of interest.

Suggest corrections