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Wednesday, 2 November 1904

Sir GEORGE TURNER - In submitting my Budget, I mentioned that these Estimates had been prepared so that the money necessary to pay the amounts recommended by the Public Service Commissioner in his classification scheme might be available. I pointed out that as that scheme had not been dealt with by the previous Government, and as 2,000 appeals had been lodged against it, some time must elapse before it could be finally adopted. I do not suggest that the officers to' whom attention has been called are likely to appeal against the proposed increases in their salaries, but I do claim that it is idle to discuss the classification scheme at present, because most of the arguments which would be advanced would be in favour of those who have grievances against the Commissioner. I repeat that while these amounts are provided upon the Estimates, no increases, other than those of an ordinary character, will be paid unless the classification scheme becomes law before the end of the financial year. I trust that when Parliament re-assembles all the appeals will have been dealt with, that the Government will have had an opportunity of going fully into the whole matter, with a view to seeing whether they can indorse the increases recommended, and so that honorable members may be able to discuss every item, and point out what is unfair either by way of increase or decrease.

Mr Crouch - Shall we be afforded an opportunity to discuss the classification scheme in detail?

Sir GEORGE TURNER - Honorable members will be afforded the fullest opportunity of discussing it.

Mr Mauger - That will be a big job, will it not?

Sir GEORGE TURNER - That fact cannot be avoided.

Mr Crouch - The scheme cannot be discussed in detail.

Sir GEORGE TURNER - But details may be pointed out.

Mr Tudor - Does the Treasurer think that the £20 increase which it is proposed to give to the Registrar, is an ordinary increment to which he is entitled.

Sir GEORGE TURNER - I am not certain, but I am inclined to think so. If it is not, the amount will not be paid. The only increments which will be paid will be those which officers would have derived this year in the absence of any classification scheme whatever. Nobody can object to the adoption of that course, and upon the assurance which I have given, I think that the Committee might well allow these items to pass.

Mr. PAGE(Maranoa). - I desire to put honorable members in possession of the facts relating to the increases which these officers have received since they joined the Commonwealth service. As Secretary and Registrar of the Public Service Board in Queensland, Mr. J. F. Richards, the Registrar, received £300 per annum. He was appointed to his present position on the istof December, 1902 - just about two years ago - at a salary of £400. Now, under the classification scheme, it is proposed to increase his salary to £420. I do not think that the £20 in question represents an ordinary increment.

Sir George Turner - I think that it does.

Mr PAGE - However much I should like to assist the Treasurer, I cannot forget that I owe a duty to my constituents. I would further point out that Mr. Healy, as clerk in the office of the Master in Equity in Victoria, formerly received £200 a year. When he was appointed examiner his salary was increased to £350 per annum.

Sir George Turner - That is an entirely different position from the one which he formerly occupied.

Mr PAGE - I am thinking of the remuneration, and not of the position.

Sir George Turner - If he were transferred from the head of the fifth class to a very responsible position, surely he is entitled to be paid accordingly ?

Mr PAGE - Nine-tenths of my constituents are required to live upon less than ^150 a year, and many of them upon less than £100. This officer was appointed to his present position on the 20th October, 1902. Whilst in the State employ he received £200 per annum. Upon his appointment his salary was increased to ,£350 per annum, and now it is proposed to give him a still further increase of £50. Similarly, the clerk in the Commissioner's office, as Private Secretary to the Premier of Victoria, received ^200 per annum. He accepted his present position at an increase of £60, and now it is proposed to grant bini an additional £50.

Sir George Turner - My honorable friend must not assume that I approve of these increases.

Mr PAGE - I know very well that the Treasurer does npt; nevertheless, I cannot allow the items to pass without a protest.

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