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Thursday, 6 September 1906

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) .- It is about time the Committee was made aware of the manner in which the printing required for the Commonwealth is conducted. Some five years ago some thousands of pounds were voted for the purchase of type, printing material, and linotype, monotype, and printing machines and presses. That money was voted in the belief that the machinery and type purchased would be utilized for Commonwealth purposes only. I am informed, and, I believe, reliably informed, that the present methods adopted in connexion with this work are anything but business-like - that they are somewhat on the " go-as-you-please " principle. If rumour be correct, the State Government have purchased little or no type during the last five years, and type bought and paid for by the Commonwealth has been extensively used for State purposes. Those who know anything of the work of a printing-office will admit that when types become mixed up it becomes almost impossible to use them, and if they were mixed it would be almost impossible to pick out the Commonwealth type from the State type. If the type is being extensively used for State purposes it can now be of little or r.o value to the Commonwealth.

Senator Clemons - Are we voting money for type which the State is using?

Senator FINDLEY - We are. I have reliable information that during the last five years the State Government have purchased no type.

Senator Clemons - Because we have been voting money for the purchase of type? '

Senator FINDLEY - That is so. In addition to thai, the linotype and monotype machines belonging to the Commonwealth have been worked at high pressure for State as well as for Commonwealth work, and for a considerable time have very seldom been idle.

Senator Trenwith - Is the State using them in a Commonwealth building?

Senator FINDLEY - If for the privilege of being allowed to occupy a small building in proximity to the State Government Printing Office the Commonwealth plant and machinery is being used for State printing we are paying very dearly indeed for the privilege referred to. Who is responsible for looking after the property in these buildings which belongs to the Commonwealth ? I believe that there is only one gazetted Commonwealth officer who has any responsibility at all for the Commonwealth printing plant. He is in charge of the linotype department. I do not say that those who are in charge of the printing machines are not competent, and do not thoroughly understand their work, but if these machines have been driven in the way I am informed they have during the last five years the plant must have considerably depreciated. I understand that one-half of the time they are occupied with State work and the other half of the time with Commonwealth work. The work, I understand, is given out in this way : There are a number of printers, machinists, and operators ; foremen give out work to the employes, and the time is taken during which they are employed on State work and on Commonwealth work, but it is almost impossible that the time occupied on Commonwealth and on State work can be accurately kept, and the bookkeeping system adopted must be. entirely unreliable.

Senator Dobson - Does the honorable senator suggest the establishment of a Federal Printing Office?

Senator FINDLEY - I do absolutely suggest that this Department of the Commonwealth Service should be run on the same lines as every other Commonwealth Department.

Senator Dobson - A new Department and more expense.

Senator FINDLEY - I believe that we should save a considerable sum of money if we had our own Printing Department.

Senator de Largie - Is none of the State machinery or plant used in the performance of work for the Commonwealth ?'

Senator FINDLEY - I believe that machinery belonging to the State is used for Commonwealth work, but it is a most unsatisfactory way in which to conduct the business.

Senator de Largie - Do we pay for the use of the State machinery ?

Senator Henderson - We find the type apparently.

Senator FINDLEY - I do not know that we pay anything for the use of the

State machinery, but I do know that the State does not pay anything for the use of the Commonwealth machinery.

Senator Clemons - It makes the muddle only more pronounced.

Senator FINDLEY - It is impossible that satisfactory results can be obtained from the adoption of such a system.

Senator Dobson - Is not our printing done magnificently ?

Senator FINDLEY - I am not complaining of the way in which the printing is turned out.

Senator Dobson - Do not let us have any more Departments.

Senator FINDLEY - I cannot understand that reasoning. No matter how unsatisfactory this Department may be, Senator Dobson contends that we should let the confusion continue, rather than have a new Department conducted on business lines.

Senator Dobson - Its conduct is neither confused nor unsatisfactory.

Senator FINDLEY - If Senator Dobson is satisfied that machinery which cost the Commonwealth thousands of pounds should be used for State work, with little or no return he is not viewing the matter from a Commonwealth point of view. I do not suppose that the State would have any objection to Commonwealth printing being separated from State printing. In the interests of both Commonwealth and State, it is time that we raised our voices in protest against the present happygolucky, go-as-you-please system. The probability is that in a very short time valuable type, the property of the Commonwealth will become almost obsolete, as it is employed in doing State as well as Commonwealth work.

Senator de Largie - 'Can the honorable senator say what is the value of the State . machinery employed in doing Commonwealth work?

Senator FINDLEY - I cannot. But I can say that whilst the Commonwealth machinery is comparatively up-to-date, much of the State machinery is almost obsolete.

Senator O'Keefe - Does the honorable senator know whether there is a reciprocal arrangement between the Commonwealth and State Governments as to the way in which the work is to be done ?

Senator Playford - There is such an arrangement.

Senator FINDLEY - There is no doubt a reciprocal arrangement between the two

Governments, but the first duty of the Government Printer is to his State and the Government that employs him. The Commonwealth work is to him and to all the employes in the office a secondary consideration. I do not say that thev are not concerned about Commonwealth work, but they are responsible to the State Government, and not to the Commonwealth Government. There is no inventory taken of our property, and there is no Commonwealth employe in charge of the type or machinery.

Senator Staniforth Smith - How are the wages paid?

Senator FINDLEY - By time. The employes get a docket for the time they are employed on State work and on Commonwealth work. There are computers who make up the time, and when the accounts are sent iii the Commonwealth pays for the amount with which it is charged, and the State Government for the amount charged for State printing. In all the circumstances, I say that it is almost impossible that under such a system the time occupied on State and Common wealth work respectively can be estimated with absolute accuracy, or in such a way as to give satisfaction.

Senator Playford - If the work is being done fairly, a mistake on one side on one day may be balanced by a mistake on the other side the next day.

Senator Millen - The Minister agrees with Senator Findley that the system adopted is a happy-go-lucky one.

Senator FINDLEY - It " could not be otherwise. Is it not about time that the way in which property, which cost the Commonwealth over £30,000, is being utilized should be looked into, and that we should put an 'end to the present confused1 system bv establishing a printing office for the printing work of the 'Commonwealth? Who is responsible for the performance of Commonwealth work at the printing office? If mistakes are made, who is called to account for them? Who is called to account for any damage which may take place to machinery, type, or other property belonging to the Commonwealth in the State Government Printing Office?

Senator Playford - There is a "Commonwealth officer there, who looks after our interests.

Senator FINDLEY - That officer is in charge of the linotype machines, which are operated in a building apart from the main printing office. His time is fully occupied in the performance of his duties in that building, and the Minister must be aware that in the main building there is Commonwealth machinery worth thousands of pounds which this Commonwealth officer may not see more than once in a month.

Senator de Largie - It is mostly State machinery.

Senator FINDLEY - It is not.

Senator Trenwith - Undoubtedly most of the machinery in the main building is State machinery.

Senator FINDLEY - In the small building the linotype and monotype machines are kept, but in the main building there are Commonwealth printing presses', machines, and type. The Minister does not know what amount of type there is there, nor how it is being utilized. I suppose that if the Ministry or any of the Commonwealth Departments have printing to be done, they do not send the order to the Commonwealth officer, and instruct him to carry it out ?

Senator Playford - No, it is sent to the State Government Printer.

Senator FINDLEY - He is recognised as the principal, and the Commonwealth officer is recognised as his subordinate.

Senator Playford - We pay something towards the salary of the State Government Printer.

Senator FINDLEY - I find no fault with that. If we give him work to do, he is entitled to some payment for it Let us have a printing office of our own, with machinery and plant of our own under the control of our own officers. If that is not to be done, let an inventory be taken of the property which we now possess, what it cost originally, and what it is worth to-day. I hope that other honorable senators will have something to say on this matter, because I consider that the present method of conducting our business is highly unsatisfactory.

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