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Tuesday, 8 November 1904


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - In States where we have no superintendent, and to a lesser extent where we have superintendents, various works are carried out by the Public Works Departments of the States. The arrangement is that on the larger works, at any rate, they get 6 per cent, commission for the preparation of plans, the supervision of the works, and the passing, of accounts so far as their supervision is concerned.


Mr Frazer - Does that apply to new buildings, the plans of which are submitted to the head office of the Commonwealth ?


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - Plans are furnished by the Public Works officers, and submitted to the Department concerned, as well as to the Public Works branch of the Department of Home Affairs. With respect to smaller works, there are arrangements by which clerks of works are paid, though not on a percentage basis, and in some cases small payments are made for plans. That is the system adopted | except where Commonwealth public works are carried out by our own Department, or by the superintendents we have in two of the States. These superintendents have been found necessary in the two larger States, where a considerable number of works are required to be carried out, and it has been found economical to employ them.


Sir John Forrest - They will be required in every State.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - In some of the States the expenditure on Commonwealth public works is very small. It is intended to employ a registrar of works, but the employment of a superintendent is unnecessary in some of the States.


Mr Chanter - Will not the commission amount to more than the salaries in some cases ?


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - Not in some of the States, but I point out that even in those States where we have superintendents they cannot supervise all the Commonwealth public works undertaken. Many of the works are defence works, some are in the interior of the States, and some on the coast, and no one officer could possibly accomplish the whole of the architectural work and the inspection required in any of the States. Consequently, the States Departments have to be drawn on to a very considerable extent. The InspectorGeneral of Works was appointed on. tha consent of Parliament to the passage of the last Estimates. Parliament voted a salary of £1,000 a year for the office, and the then Ministry appointed the present InspectorGeneral of Works at a salary of £800 a year. Every effort will be made to give full effect to the intention of Parliament that the utilization of the services of this officer should result in a saving ratherthan an increase of expenditure.


Mr Hutchison - What are his duties ?


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - He has to superintend the whole of the public works of the Commonwealth. All requisitions have to be submitted to him. He has to give instructions for the preparation of plans where the work is done by the Department itself, he has to inspect plans prepared by local superintendents and States Public Works Departments, to approve or disapprove of them, and to suggest alterations which may lead to savings.


Mr Frazer - He has to travel.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - He has to travel occasionally, and he visited Western Australia only the other day.


Mr Frazer - He should go there again.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - He needs to go there again.


Sir John Forrest - He has to design forts.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - Yes, he possesses military knowledge, and is a military engineer. That fact led to his appointment, because works in connexion with fortifications form a large portion of the public works undertaken bv the Commonwealth. There is a considerable reduction on the vote of last year torecoup the States for the salaries of professional officers employed by the Commonwealth. That is partly due to the fact that now that we have an Inspector-General of Works, other officers of the Department are enabled to do more of the work of supervision in the States. Their salaries will therefore to some extent be recouped by a saving in the amount of commissions hitherto paid to the States.

Mr. HENRYWILLIS (Robertson).This is a badly managed Department. It seems to me that the Minister of Home Affairs has no control whatever over works. Works which have been approved by the Commonwealth Parliament are placed in the hands of State officers, and it is left to their discretion to say when each work shall be completed. To my knowledge, for six months certain works have been at a standstill. The officers in the Commonwealth Department say that everything has been done by them which can be done, but that it rests with the State authorities to say when the works shall be carried out, and the cause of the delay has to be reported by them to the Minister.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - I admit that sometimes the States Departments are busy.







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