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Tuesday, 12 December 1911

Senator SAYERS (Queensland) . - I am surprised at the explanation of the Vice-President of the Executive Council. Apparently, he fails to recognise that the salary payable to the occupant of this office does not depend upon the officer himself. Next year, a fresh officer may be appointed to the position. Throughout the whole of this debate, the Vice-President of the Executive Council has taken- up the attitude that the grievances of our public servants cannot be inquired into. Yet one officer has been picked out for a good fat salary by a Labour Government, which is always proclaiming its desire to safeguard the interests of members of the lower grades of the service.

Senator McGregor - That is a nice sort of argument.

Senator SAYERS - Hansard will prove that my statement is correct.

Senator de Largie - The honorable senator is a nice champion of the lower-paid men in the service.

Senator SAYERS - I am a little better champion of their claims than is the honorable senator, as my acts prove. Senator De Largie's professions are mere words. Here is a gentleman who has been receiving a salary of .£350 or £400 a year, but who, under this Bill, will be appointed to a position with a minimum salary of £600, and a maximum, of ^850 per annum. I have not one word to say against his ability. But it seems absurd that a special clause should be inserted in the Bill making this provision. Evidently, this officer. can be dealt with by Act of Parliament, whilst the r!ank and file of our Public Service must go to the Arbitration Court to secure justice.

Senator de Largie - They will not look to the honorable senator for justice.

Senator SAYERS - They will look to Senator de Largie only for a lot of wind. I consider that this act on the part of a Labour Government will be criticised from one end of Australia to the other. I do not know why this gentleman has been appointed. We have been told that he is a good servant. But surely he is not the only officer in our Public Service who is possessed of ability. I cannot understand the reason underlying the action of the Ministry; and I feel convinced that quite a number of our public servants will place upon it a construction which- is, perhaps, not justified. The appointment looks fishy. It does not seem straightforward. No other officer of the Public Service is dealt with by an Act of Parliament, with the exception, perhaps, of the AuditorGeneral. Officers receiving an equal salary to this gentleman are not treated in the same way.

Senator McGregor - Yes they are.

Senator SAYERS - This officer may be a pet of the Vice-President of the Executive Council for all that I know to the contrary. But I object to the principle underlying his appointment. The action of the Government in this matter is indefensible.

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