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Wednesday, 2 November 1904

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable member is not in order. He is now discussing a matter which will come on for consideration at a later stage.

Mr HUTCHISON - I have merely been debating the question of whether these Estimates should' be accepted by the Committee, or whether all these increases should not be deferred for future consideration.

Mr. MAUGER. (Melbourne Ports).- If the honorable member for Maranoa will move to reduce the total vote of this division as a protest against the granting of general increases to the higher paid officials, I shall be happy to support him.

Mr Page - I shall do that later on.

Mr MAUGER - Then I shall vote with him.

Mr Page - The honorable member should vote with me now.

Mr MAUGER - No; two wrongs cannot make a right. We are absolutely in the dark as to the merits or demerits of this case, and as the Treasurer has promised that no increases will be paid until the classification scheme has been dealt with by us, it seems to me that the amendment is not a fair one. The honorable member for Maranoa charges me with proposing to vote for a proposition which will havethe effect of preventing the lower-paid members of the service receiving an adequate wage. He knows full well that in making that assertion he is talking absolute clap-trap. I protested when the proposal was made last year to reduce the Estimates of this Department, and what I said would take place, has certainly occurred. I pointed out that if we voted for a reduction of this kind, without seeing where it was to press, the inevitable result would be that the lower-paid men in the service would suffer. In suggesting a small reduction to indicate that in our opinion there is a disposition to grant increases to the higherpaid members of the service, whilst a reasonable payment is not made to members of the lower branches of the service-

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - But the honorable member would have to show that such was the case. I have mentioned the amounts paid.

Mr MAUGER - Quite so, but the honorable member for Yarra has made the very important point that, whilst a vote passed in respect to the lower-paid branch of the service may appear in the aggregate to oe very large, it has to be spread over so many persons, that it may not do even common justice to them.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member admits that he cannot say that the amount proposed in these Estimates is more than sufficient, and yet he would vote for a reduction.

Mr MAUGER - I protested against the salaries of the higher-paid branches of the service being . constantly increased, whilst injustice was being done to the lower-paid branches. But in picking out individual cases it is impossible for us to deal with them on their merits, and we might unfairly punish an officer. It is because I believe that the amendment would not achieve the desired end that I intend to vote against it.

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