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Tuesday, 8 November 1904

Mr BATCHELOR (Boothby) - I do not propose to discuss the Stems, especially those increases proposed under the classification scheme, my chief reason being that the appeals are still being heard. It would, I think, bs rather a disadvantage to those who are conducting the appeals, and also, possibly, to those whose appeals are being heard, to have the items debated in Parliament. When the matter is settled, so far as the Appeal Boards are concerned, every item will come under review by Parliament. If we choose to exercise our powers, we can then deal with the matter without prejudicing the claims one way or another.

Mr Kennedy -Why should those increases be included in the Estimates?

Mr BATCHELOR - The leader of the Opposition, and also the Minister, have already explained that point.

Mr Kennedy - It is just what has not been explained.

Mr BATCHELOR - What I rise to draw the attention of the Minister to particularly is the fact that the inspectorial staffs will in the near future have to be curtailed, or have further duties placed upon them. As the honorable member for Coolgardie said just now, the heavy work of classification is pretty well finished, though, of course, appeals are still being heard, and that, perhaps, is a reason why the expense will be much the same this year as last year. As soon, however, as the work is completed, it will be necessary to give the inspectors and their staffs additional duties. I know that some of them recognize that when the work of classification is completed, as it will be on the adoption of the scheme by Parliament, there will be very little for them to do, especially in some of the States. There will not be nearly enough work to occupy the time of valuable officers receiving salaries of £600 per annum. I see that under another heading, which has been passed, and which, therefore, I cannot discuss, but may merely mention, the Commonwealth Electoral

Officer of Tasmania is acting as Public Works Inspector and Deputy Public Service Inspector; so that there we have an amalgamation of duties.

Mr McDonald - And the cost is charged to the Electoral Department, which it should not be.

Mr BATCHELOR - The way in which the expenses of the amalgamated offices is charged is quite wrong, and I have already spoken to the Treasurer in regard to the matter. The greater portion of the Tasmanian officer's time is occupied in connexion with the Public Service work. I draw the Minister's attention to the desirability, between now and when the classification scheme is completed of devising some method of amalgamating the duties of Commonwealth officers, so that those receiving high salaries may have their time fully occupied.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - In the unfortunate and unexpected absence of the Treasurer, who, of course, has had to deal with these matters, I find I am in error in stating that an amount has been deducted for salaries that may possibly not be paid during the year under the classification scheme. The classification, as it has been made, has been provided for, and, of course, the promise has been given that whilst officers receiving only up to , £160 per annum will receive their increments, those officers whose salaries are over that amount will not be paid their increments until Parliament has had an opportunity to approve or disapprove of the scheme of the Commissioner.

Mr McDonald - Will the increments date back?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - The increments will date back when Parliament approves. Parliament, therefore, retains in its own hands the whole scheme.

Mr Kennedy - Not the whole scheme.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - Except as regards those who only receive up to £160 per annum. The whole scheme, with that exception, remains in the hands of Parliament, under the promise given by the Treasurer, that Parliament will be afforded an opportunity to express its approval or disapproval when the appeals have been heard.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Will the increments actually be paid?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - Not to those whose salaries are ever £160 per annum.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The increments will be kept back until the scheme is com- pleted.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - Until Parliament approves or disapproves df the scheme.

Mr Batchelor - That, of course, is only as to salaries so far as they are affected by the classification.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - Yes. In view of the appeals, it is not desirable, I think, to discuss the scheme in detail at the present time; and the abstention of members is an indication that they are of the same opinion. The comparison made by the honorable member for Coolgardie was not as between the appropriation of last year and the Estimates of this year, but between the actual expenditure of last year and the Estimates of this year. Provision must be made for certain expenditure in case it is required, but, as usual in all the Departments, only what is really required will be expended. It is often found that a. considerable saving can be made on the vote passed. That was the case last year in connexion with this vote, and the amount asked for this year is only about£300 in excess of last year's estimate. The proposed increase has, I think, been fully explained during the discussion which has already taken place.

Mr Mahon - In connexion with some of the items more was spent last year than is proposed this year.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - That is so. For instance, the printing cost more, but that was due to the classification scheme and so on. Of course,the cost of printing will be heavy this year also, because the classification is an annual classification.

Mr Mahon - But it remains in type.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - Still, the cost of material and printing will be very considerable.

Mr Mahon - It should not be anything like the cost of setting up originally.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - If a smaller amount than is asked for is found to be sufficient, that is all that will be expended. In the meantime, a considerable sum must be provided under this heading, because, asI have said, the provision made last year was exceeded. The Commissioner hopes in future to be able to make reductions in certain directions. It has already been pointed out that, whilst the classification work was very heavy, it was largely accomplished by overtime work. I have stalled the immense amount of overtime that was worked by the; Commissioner's Department. That is accounted for by the fact that the work was of such a nature that strangers could not be brought in to deal with it, and it could be done only by certain officers. It was largely accomplished by overtime work, which was not paid for. There will still be a great deal of work in the Department, for although the classification is finished, the regular work will begin under it, the work of examining the different Departments and ascertaining if there is an excess of officers, and so on.

Mr McDonald - Has not that alreadybeen done.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - It has been partially done, but it has been quite impossible to do it completely.

Mr McDonald - So far as general increases are concerned the work has not 1 een partially done.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - I think that every possible step was taken by the Commissioner, in view of the difficulties with which he was confronted. There will be a great deal of work to do throughout the Commonwealth in future, because the classification is an annual matter. Certain increases are provided for, and it will be necessary to see that the various officers are entitled to them. It has to be seen whether there is an excess of officers in any one Department, and if the heads of different Departments claim that their Departments are undermanned, it has to be ascertained whether the claim is justified. In the general supervision of the service, though savings may be made in some directions, there must -always be a considerable expenditure involved. The honorable member for Boothby has referred to the inspectorial staff, and I may say that the matter is receiving attention. Wherever possible we shall make use of the services of these officers, as in the case of the officer working in Tasmania, whose services have been made use of for the Electoral Department. Every effort will be made to make full use of the services of . these officers. Some saving may in this way be made in the future in the case of the smaller States, but I hardly think that this can be done in the case of the inspectors for the larger States.

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