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Wednesday, 11 December 1912

Senator CHATAWAY (Queensland) . - It is four or five years, I think, since the Commonwealth servants on the north-eastern littoral Queensland first urged that they should be allowed a tropical allowance. The matter was threshed out at considerable length, both in correspondence and in interviews, and eventually certain scales were drawn up which were supposed to suit the conditions of the coast. At that time Herberton was included under No. 3 scale. Lower down in Queensland we got the No. 2 scale; while still lower down we got the No. 1 scale, if there is such a scale. It appears that the Public Service Commissioner has acted in an entirely arbitrary manner, and has certainly taken it into his head to alter the Herberton portion of the State from No. 3 to No. 2 scale. He has reduced the allowance in the case of the smaller-paid men, but left the allowance untouched in the case of men earning ,£200 and over. It is not likely that the Commissioner, being really an officer of Parliament, can be compelled, without considerable correspondence and friction, to obey the behest of any Minister. But we know that it is in the power of Ministers to use moral suasion with him, at any rate, to make inquiries as to why this alteration has recently been made ; and the probability is that once the matter is fully ventilated, the Commissioner will see his way. to restore the allowances to the officers in the Herberton, district. They especially require to receive again what they were originally receiving, because the allowance they were getting is really not worth as much to-day as it was when it was first granted. It is a truism that the cost of living has gone up everywhere, and the cost of living in the north grows higher in geographical progression the farther north we go. Just as when we put a duty of is. on goods, bv the time the goods reach the consumer they have been raised in price is. 6d., so the cost grows in carting and carrying goods from the south to the north. And especially it must be remembered that one of the principal and most expensive items up there are food supplies, because practically they have all to be brought up from tlie south. I hope that the ventilation of this matter will lead the Minister to make representations to the Commissioner, and to see whether what appears on its face to be an arrant injustice cannot be remedied.

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