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Thursday, 14 July 1904

Mr TUDOR (Yarra) - I think that the honorable member for Lang has gone through the classification scheme of the Public Service Commissioner chiefly with a view to ascertain how many officers employed in Victoria are in receipt of higher salaries than those which are paid to officers in New South Wales. Personally, I have not had time to examine the document very carefully. We all know, however, that the Public Service Commissioner is not. a Victorian. If we take the officers who have been appointed as heads of the various Commonwealth Departments,' what do we find? An honorable member interjects that Victoria has not received one of. those appointments. Victoria has received more than one of them. But do we not know that the Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs, the Chief Clerk of that Department, the head of the Electoral Department, and the Secretary and Parliamentary Draftsman in the Attorney-General's Department all hail from the. State of New South Wales? I should not have raised this question had the honorable member for Lang not been at such pains to point out that Victorian officers are receiving larger salaries than are being paid to officers occupying similar positions in New South Wales. To my mind it is nearly, impossible to ascertain what officers are performing similar work in the various States, because hitherto they have not been designated by the same titles. The honorable member for Lang pointed out that the officers in the Victorian Customs Department are in receipt of much larger salaries than are paid to officers filling corresponding positions in New South Wales. I find, however, that in the New South Wales Customs Department there are 309 officers employed, as against 260 in Victoria.

Mr Fuller - That was on the date of the transfer of that Department, was it not?

Mr TUDOR - No; that is the number given in the classification scheme. I have not yet consulted the supplementary list, and I' do not know whether the figures contained in that list . would alter these figures.

Mr Johnson - Has the honorable member compared the aggregate salaries paid in the two States?

Mr TUDOR - I have not had time to do so.

Mr Fisher - What would that prove, anyhow ?

Mr TUDOR - It would not prove very much. The honorable and learned member for Illawarra has said that in determining the salaries to be paid to the various officers in our Public Service, he understood, that ability alone was to count. I was under the impression that under the Public Service Act, where two officers were possessed of equal ability, length of service would be taken into consideration. The honorable member for Lang has stated that, by passing an Act immediately prior to the accomplishment of Federation, Victoria gave to her transferred officers larger salaries than they would.otherwise have received. I believe that the Public Service Commissioner has absolute^ ignored that Statute. Upon pages 25, 26, and 27 of his report, he deals with this very matter. He points out that Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, and New South Wales all passed similar Acts. As he was .formerly a New South Wales officer, and had the whole of the details at his fingers' ends, I have no doubt that his statement is correct. Upon page 27 of his report, he says -

A large number of New South Wales officers were also raised in status just prior to the transfer of his services.

Mr Austin Chapman - Quite a number of those officers had their salaries reduced a few years before.

Mr TUDOR - The same thing had happened in Victoria; there had been percentage reductions here.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Public Service Commissioner does not say so.

Mr TUDOR - I am a Victorian, and I happen to know that their salaries were reduced four or five years prior to the accomplishment of Federation. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports can bear out my statement. Section 19 of the Victorian Act, to which reference has been made many times, merely declares that transferred' officers shall receive the same salaries that are paid to officers performing similar work in any other State. If that salary exceeded £156 a year, they were not to be granted even that consideration. The honorable member for Lang also took the trouble to deal with the salaries which are ' paid in the Postal Department. But I would point out that the lowest amount paid to any mail officer in New South Wales is £192 per annum, and that the salary ranges up to £294. In Victoria the salaries of mail officers run from £198 to £210. In New South Wales one of the mail officers receives £294, while no similar officer in Victoria receives more than £210. Then, in the former State, some of the mail drivers are paid as much as £150, while the highest payment made in the latter State for such service is £140 17s. I mention these cases by way of reply to the endeavour of the honorable member for Lang to show that Victorian officials have received better treatment from the Commissioner' than has been received by officials in New South Wales. As hundreds of appeals are now being sent to the Commissioner, it would be better for honorable members to wait until they have been dealt with before criticising his work, and I should not have risen to speak to-night had it not been for what I considered the unfair comparisons of the honorable member for Lang. "Mr. BATCHELOR (Boothby- Minister of Home Affairs). - The Government are not disposed to complain' of honorable members exercising to the fullest their right to discuss the classification of the Commissioner, especially when the object is to ascertain if possible the principles which governed him in arriving at his conclusions. I shall take care that a copy of the official report of the debate is sent to him, so that he may be able to attach what weight he thinks proper to the statements which have been made. Of course, there are anomalies.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - There are bound to be anomalies.

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