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Wednesday, 19 May 1915

Mr JENSEN (Bass) (Assistant Minister of Defence) . - The Secretary, Mr. Pethebridge, has gone to New Guinea, and is there administering the new Pacific Possessions. He was sent there because of his intimate knowledge of the Defence Department, but he is only acting temporarily, and may be recalled at any time by the Minister.

Mr Riley - Is he given any increased salary 1

Mr JENSEN - Not to my knowledge.

Mr Page - Surely he is getting allowances ?

Mr JENSEN - Undoubtedly. The honorable member would not like to go up there without allowances.

Mr Page - He should certainly get allowances.

Mr JENSEN - The Government have considered the position with regard ' to the departmental officers, and it has been laid down that it is not to be recognised as a general rule that increases are to be given this year for any work they have performed.

Mr Page - Do you remember the fight put up here for the gentlemen in the Senate ?

Mr JENSEN - I remember it very well.

Mr Page - I am not complaining about Mr. Pethebridge's position; I want to know what is to be done for the Assistant Secretary.

Mr Burchell - If an officer is acting in a higher grade for three months or more, surely he should get the minimum salary of that grade?

Mr JENSEN - There may be something in that contention. The Acting Secretary, Mr. Trumble, is a valuable servant, and is doing splendid work. I am not in a position to say whether he is to get any extra remuneration; but I shall make inquiries and let the Committee know.

Mr Fisher - We shall have to lay down a policy in the matter covering this special time.

Mr Page - What are you going to pay the man for doing this special work ?

Mr Fisher - These are old Estimates. The new Estimates will have to be brought down in a month's time. These might well be called the " never-never " Estimates.

Mr JENSEN - We all recognise that the Assistant Secretary is doing good work; but this financial year is about to close, and when the new Estimates are brought down the honorable member will have a chance to fight the Assistant Secretary's case if the Government do not give him an increase.

Mr Page - Will you guarantee to give him an increase in the next Estimates ?


Mr Fisher - I will guarantee that the Government will have a policy for all these acting men.

Mr JENSEN - This gentleman's case will receive just consideration from the Government. The expenditure has increased by millions, owing to the war; and it is the duty of every officer in the Defence Department to do his best at this juncture. I do not know that we should hold out the promise of big increases to officers who are getting good remuneration because of extra services rendered on account of the war.

Mr Cook - The honorable member should not put it that way.

Mr JENSEN - But for the war, Mr. Pethebridge would probably be still at the barracks. If we had to give increases to every person who has to do a little extra work while the war is on, we should have to go right through the Defence Department. I have found Mr. Trumble to be a most valuable and energetic officer. He puts in such a lot of his time there that he practically sleeps on the premises.

Mr Cook -Do you think that while the war is on no increases should be granted ?

Mr JENSEN - I would not lay that down as a rule, but we ought to be very guarded as to what increases we do give, seeing that the expenditure is piling up to such huge amounts. If the right honorable member was on this side of the House he would be very concerned about giving increases at this juncture. The Department is now preparing the Estimates for the coming year for submission to the Treasury. I will promise the Committee that officers who are doing special work, such as those who are relieving others, will get consideration from the Minister. I cannot say whether increases of salary will be granted, because that is a matter for the Minister and the Government to . decide. All I can promise is that when the new Estimates are being prepared consideration will be given to the honorable member's request.

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