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Wednesday, 2 November 1904

Mr POYNTON (Grey) - I admit that we are to a great extent in the dark as to the merits of these officers, and the remuneration which should be given to them; but it seems to me singular that those who are responsible for the fixing of the salaries originally should not have known the value of the work which was to be performed. In one case a salary has been increased by £150, and then, by ,£20, and in a number of other cases there have been increases of £,$0. These seem to me to be very suspicious circumstances. Apparently those who established the Department were afraid to let us know what the real cost would be, for fear that we might not agree to its establishment. It is not of much consolation to us to be told that we shall have a chance of discussing the whole matter in connexion with the classification scheme. If that scheme were to be dealt with in detail, a whole session would be consumed. I commend the honorable member for Maranoa for having drawn attention to this matter. It is a remarkable thing that, while the

Public Service Commissioner has not been very liberal in granting increases to the rank and file of the service, those coming under the immediate notice of heads of Departments have been treated very well. We should be culpable if we were to allow these increases to pass without severe criticism, and if the honorable member presses the amendment to a division I shall vote for it, as a protest against the continual increasing of salaries of officers who are most closely in touch with the heads of Departments.

Mr. PAGE(Maranoa). - I wish to put myself on safe ground with the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, who says that he does not believe in sweating, or in paying any officer a low salary. The position is this: The salaries of all the more highly-paid officers have been increased by amounts of as much as £50 each, and in one case by £70; but the officers who receive low salaries have not obtained increases. In this connexion I should like to read the following communication, which I have received from the Letter Carriers' arid Sorters' Association of Queensland: -

I have been instructed by the executive of the Letter Carriers' and Sorters' Association to hand you herewith a return prepared from the Commonwealth classification, which shows that the bulk of money prepared for increases, goes, in most cases, to higher paid officers, whilst the deductions are from salaries least able to bear them, and is embarrassing lower grade men financially.


This seems to me like keeping down the lower paid men to grease the fat sow. If the officers whose salaries are now being discussed are underpaid, what about those of the rank and file? I do not want sympathy in this matter ; I want votes.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I agree with the Treasurer, that as a promise has been made that an opportunity will be afforded honorable members to fully discuss the classification scheme, it is undesirable

Mr Tudor - Before the end of this financial year?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Before it is adopted. The money will not be paid before honorable members have been afforded an opportunity to discuss the classification scheme, and I am sure that honorable members will recognise that, as certain cases are sub judice, it is very undesirable that we should discuss them. If statements are made on one side they must be replied to on the other, and the result might be to prejudice cases which are the subjects of appeal. The increases shown, which are not all .due to the classification, but are partly attributable to the ordinary increments, amount to £54,565> of which £41,852 will go to officers who are receiving less than £200 per annum, and £12,092 will be paid to officers receiving salaries of between £200 and £500., Of the balance, £220 will go to officers receiving over £500 per annum, and £400 to officers of the administrative division. The last-named amount is not provided for on these Estimates.

Mr Tudor - Does the total include the provision made for the payment of the minimum wage?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The minimum wage provision was made in a previous year.

Mr Tudor - Only partly.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Provision was made to a large extent in a previous year.

Mr Tudor - Does this amount include the increases provided for under clause 19 of the Victorian Public Service Act of 1890 ?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - No; they are not included . in the classification increases. I would pointout that although it was true that the postal officials in Queensland received what was called an " English mail allowance," that title is a misnomer, because the payment under the State regime covered not merely the work done in connexion with' the English mails, but all' claims in respect to overtime and holidays.-. The special" allowance for' English mail work has been stopped, because no allowance of a similar character was made in the other States, and all the States had to be brought into line. The Queensland officials, however, will be entitled to the payment for overtime, and they will receive it. The figures put forward by the honorable member for Maranoa are perfectly genuine, but there is another side to the question, because the officers will receive improved opportunities for advancement. In every case I believe something of that kind can be shown, but I think it is undesirable that we should enter into the discussion of matters relating to the classification at the present stage.

Mr Page - I promise not to do it again.

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