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Wednesday, 2 November 1904

Mr MAUGER (Melbourne Ports) - It will be remembered that when the Estimates were before us last year, a somewhat similar protest was .made in regard to an item to provide for the appointment of additional clerks in this Department. It was urged then that we were in absolute ignorance of the work which these clerks would be called upon to do. At that time sweating was going on in the Department of Home Affairs which would have been regarded as a positive disgrace to any private employer; yet it was said that we were not in a position to determine .whether 'the additional clerks were necessary. I agree with the honorable member for Parramatta that we are not in a position to determine whether this salary is too large. Whilst I sympathize with the honorable member for Maranoa-

Mr Page - I want votes, not sympathy.

Mr MAUGER - I cannot vote for the amendment in the absence of information showing that there is good reason for it. When the House appointed a Public Service Commissioner, I refused to interview him, or to have anything to do with him, believing that we should allow him to carry out the trust reposed in him, or else change the whole system. We must follow one of these two courses, unless a better system to deal with the salaries of public servants be propounded than the unscientific one of reducing a vote by £20 or £50 per annum. It does not appear to me that it is fair to compare these salaries with those received by States officials, unless we compare like with like. Mention has been made of one gentleman, who is one of the most estimable men in the service. When in the service of the State he had absolutely no responsibility ; but he discharged his duties so satisfactorily that he was transferred to the Commonwealth service on the nomination of the Treasurer. He is now occupying a position of trust, and I appeal to the Committee to say whether it is fair to suggest that he should receive the same salary that he enjoyed while in the State's service? We cannot grapple adequately with this question, in the absence of full information as to the duties and responsibilities of the officers, and in view of the assurance of the Treasurer, that these increases will not be paid until the classification scheme be approved by the Parliament, I cannot agree to my honorable friend's unscientific proposal.

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