A lengthy discussion took place at the usual monthly meeting of the Bathurst P.P. Board this morning on the report of the conference of stock inspectors in connection with the Stock Inspectors' Institute, which had been forwarded by the secretary of the institute.
Among the resolutions carried by conference were, "That the minimum salary paid to stock inspectors should be £400 per annum, with an equip-ment and travelling allowance of £125 per annum," and "That where an officer is solely employed as a rabbit inspector his minimum salary should be £300 a year with forage allowance that should also cover the wear and tear of equipment." The Minister told the institute with regard to the first motion that the bill would be among the measures he would en-deavor to have ready for next session.
The Minister expressed the opinion that, whether a war was on or not, the conditions put before him should not be allowed to exist, and he would have inquiries made with a view to improving them. This would apply, with certain modifications, to the second resolution.
Mr. Sullivan stated that the step taken by the stock inspectors was aristocratic. Instead of taking the usual steps to form a union, they had formed an institute. He strongly objected to a body of men dictating to the Board as to how it was to carry out the work. They called it an institute, but in reality it meant a union. This institute had passed resolutions and said the salaries of the stock inspector, rabbit inspector, and secretary should be so much.
The chairman : It doesn't mention the secretary.
Mr. Brownlow : Only the stock inspector and the rabbit inspector.
Mr. Wallace : They leave the secretary at the mercy of the Board.
Mr. Sullivan said he did not object to the inspectors forming a union, but he did object to their calling it an institute. Lectures were only a cloak at a conference like that. They seemed only to cover the purposes for which the institute had been formed. He maintained that the institute was formed for the purpose of getting higher salaries for the officers. They were trying to get the Minister to take away the rights of the Board. It ws not fair, and no Board should stand it. The ratepayers had to pay the stock inspector, rabbit inspector, and secretary. The Government did not contribute one penny towards their salaries. The stockowners had to pay the salaries, and it should come from the Board who was to manage its affairs. He did not think the Board should take into consideration any-thing done at that conference. The Board should object to any powers being taken away.
Mr. Wallace said they had heard a lot about the conference, but it seem-ed to him that the matter of fixing the salaries was the bone of contention. As far as the officers of the Board were concerned he thought they got a fair remuneration, but the travelling ex-penses were considerable so far as the stock inspector was concerned. When that amount came out of his salary there was not a great deal left.
Mr. Sullivan remarked that the whole trend of the conference was on the side of the inspectors.
Mr. Wallace said that they could take the word institute to mean union, they were synonimous terms.
Mr. Sullivan: Would you spend the ratepayers money for these men to form a union to better their conditions?
Mr. Wallace : If it is for the benefit of the ratepayers.
Mr. Sullivan : The Board should not pay officers to go down and form a union.
Mr. Wallace : We pay the secretary to go down to the general conference.
Mr. Sullivan: That is not in connection with Board matters. I have no objection to the officers forming a union, but I object to the Board paying their expenses while at conference.
Mr. Brownlow : The secretary gets three weeks holiday every year and he appoints a person to take his place. I think the board should have a say in that.
Mr. Brett : The whole matter had the hearty co-operation of the Department.
Mr. Sullivan : What! To take over the management of the Board by the officers?
Mr. Brett : Such a thing was never suggested.
Mr. Sullivan : There were twelve resolutions submitted to that conference dictating as to how the management is to be carried on. Surely the minister ought not to sanction that. If that is the case they ought to take control of the P.P. Boards and do away with its members.
Mr. Wallace : Would you suggest that the stock inspector, the rabbit inspector, and the secretary should apply to the Board for a higher "screw?"
Mr. Sullivan : I won't suggest anything, but if they think they are not getting enough I have no objection to them applying for it.
Mr. Brett : I am sorry that Mr. Sullivan is labouring under a misapprehension. He thinks the institute is to take the work out of the hands of the Board. If there was anything like that the minister would not consent to it.
Mr. Sullivan : I ask Mr Brett why it was that when Mr. Burgess said there were resolutions to be submitted to the conference, he said there was not.
Mr. Brett : No, I did not.
Mr. Kerr : No, he didn't.
Mr. Browning : As the board has to find the money for the inspectors I think the board ought to be asked if any minimum salary arrived at was fair. I hardly think it is for the stock inspectors to go down there and say we want £525 per year. I think the board should have a little say as to whether it would have to pay the £525. Perhaps it will, but I don't know. I have thought for many years that a portion of the stock inspectors' salary should be paid by the Government. If the inspector does his duty thoroughly he is a benefit to the whole community because he saw that the stock were fed well and guarded against disease. Under those conditions, the Government paying half, he would not have any objection to raising the stock inspector's salary to £525 per year.
Mr. Sullivan: The Act would have to be amended.
Mr. Brown: I am very strongly in favor of Mr. Brownlow's remarks and I have much pleasure in supporting them. This ended the matter and the next business was proceeded with.