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Wednesday, 2 November 1904

Mr McDONALD (Kennedy) - If we do not deal with these increases until we have discussed the classification scheme, the position will be this : Parliament will shortly go into recess, and the general impression is that the recess will last for six months, so that when we re-assemble the end of the present financial year will be very near. If the classification scheme is at once put before us, and a month or so is consumed in its discussion, the year will have been brought to an end. I should like to know whether, under those circumstances, any reductions in salaries will be retrospective ?

Sir George Turner - They will take effect from the 1st July last.

Mr McDONALD - That is what I wish to get at. it seems to me that if we agree to these salaries now, we shall . be committed to paying them until we can take action next year. The Government proposalthat we should pass them now, on the understanding that they may be reduced if the classification of the Public Service Commissioner is not approved, is a mere pretence. It is very doubtful whether, if we pass these salaries now, we shall not be responsible for the payment of the money involved from the 1st July last until the end of the financial year, or. at any rate, until the classification scheme is agreed to. The honorable member for Parramatta has pointed out that no schedule has been presented to us. Pretty well every State "Parliament has presented to it when the Estimates are brought forward a schedule showing who are the officers involved, their classification, emoluments, and so on. I think, too, that we should be supplied with a report from each Department as the Estimates for that Department are called on. Furthermore, it is certainly wrong that we cannot obtain the report of the Auditor-General until some months after the Estimates are passed. I am glad that the honorable member for New England withdrew the expression about waste of time. The discussion has proved very profitable. The information which we have obtained tonight has been practically dragged out of the Minister.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - What nonsense. I was ready to give it at once. I suppose the honorable member is accustomed to having items explained before they have been questioned-?

Mr McDONALD - Yes.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then I do not know by what. Minister.

Mr McDONALD - The Government seem to me to be trying to entrap members; but the best way to get Estimates through is to furnish the fullest possible information. Honorable members will have information, and when Ministers will notgive it they must be forced to do so.

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