Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Wednesday, 2 November 1904

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I would suggest that, for the convenience of honorable members in discussing these Estimates, it would be well to follow the practice, which is adopted .in some of the States, of having a schedule prepared which would show honorable members at a glance the position of officers in the Public Service. That would help . us very materially in the discussion of any items.

Sir George Turner - The classification scheme has been printed, and it gives us all the information.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Do I understand that salaries as fixed under the classification scheme are provided for in the Estimates as now submitted?

Sir George Turner - The Estimates are based on the classification scheme.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Are we to understand that even if these increases be voted, they will not be paid, pending the hearing of appeals from the classification, except in so far as they are ordinary and regular increments?

Sir George Turner - I have made that promise to the Committee on two occasions. I think it is useless for us to discuss the classification until we have an opportunity to deal with the whole scheme.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I agree with the right honorable member. I am rather surprised to learn that the classification scheme is to be discussed by the House. We sought to discuss it when it was first submitted to the House, but the late Minister of Home Affairs, as well as the honorable member for Bland, who was then Prime Minister, resisted the suggestion.

Mr Hutchison - They said that it should not be discussed until the appeals had been dealt with.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If the honorable member turns to Hansard, he will find that the statement was absolutely unqualified - that no reference was made to the matter of appeals. I do not intend to vote for the amendment. 1 take it that the Public Service Commissioner has assessed the services of the registrar and examiner, as he thinks they ought to be valued. He is the officer to determine such matters; but looking at the question as an outsider, it seems to me that this officer is not highly paid, having regard to the fact that he is responsible for the registration of a service embracing 11,000, 12,000, or 13,000 persons, and also the salaries, allowances, or other emoluments received by them. It is not pertinent to inquire what this gentleman received before he entered the Commonwealth service, nor does it seem to me that we are concerned in this connexion with the poor incomes of persons in the various electorates. We all sympathize with them, and wish that their incomes were very much larger; but the only point we have to consider in this case is whether the services being rendered by these officers are worth the emoluments set against their names in the schedule. In considering that question, are we to say what their services are worth, when we do not know the details of the work which they perform? When we appointed a Public Service Commissioner, we confessed that we were not able to appraise the services of these gentlemen.

Mr Page - Then why discuss the Estimates? Why not give the Public Service Commissioner the money, and allow him to do what he likes with it?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If the honor-: able member had the slightest proof of his suggestion that the value of the work performed! by this officer is not what it is set down to be, he would have a sympathetic audience; but he has not furnished a tittle of proof ; he has merely pointed to the increase in salary as a sufficient justification for his moving the reduction of the item. That I hope will not appeal to the reason of the Committee.

Mr DAVID THOMSON (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) - There are fairly large increases - amounting, in the case of the examiner, to nearly j£i per week.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I admit that there are ; but the only question is whether the work is worth the salaries allowed. As to that, we are unable to judge for ourselves, because we have not the necessary information before us ; but as an outsider, I should say that the registrar of a service comprising between 11,000 and 13,000 persons is not overpaid when he receives £420 per annum. In the absence of any detailed reason for the proposed reduction, I shall feel constrained to vote against the amendment.

Suggest corrections