Officers salaries were discussed at length at the monthly meeting of the Bathurst P.P. Board, held at the Court House yesterday.
Mr. C. Boyd (president) occupied the chair.
The following letter was received from the Chief Inspector of Stock :—"I have to inform you that after most careful consideration, the Minister has decided on the following basis of remuneration being applied to such officers:—
"The minimum salary, irrespective of allowances, shall be £300 per annum, and the maximum £350 per annum. There shall be an equipment allowance of £100 per annum and travelling expenses on the unit system, i.e., 3s each to be paid for bed, breakfast, lunch and dinner—if the inspector be put to this expense— irrespective of how long he has been absent from his headquarters. In the event of a Board supplying a motor car for the inspector's use, such inspector shall receive no equipment allowance, but the total cost of running expenses and maintenance shall be borne by the Board.
"In view of the above decision, the salaries of all Inspectors have been recast, and it has been approved that Inspector Brett's salary shall be £325 per annum, with the allowances previously mentioned, as from the 1st July, 1918.
"The Minister also directs that it should be clearly understood that on no account should any departure be made from the rates agreed upon, and that no bonus be made to the inspectors without the special approval of the minister being first obtained, and that such bonuses will only be granted in very special cases. With regard to the minimum salary for rabbit inspectors, the minister has not seen fit to make any recommendation in connection therewith as he considers that it is entirely a matter for the Board themselves to decide."
It was pointed out that the recast would mean an increase of Mr. Brett's salary of £75 a year, in addition to the 12s a day expenses and that he would have to receive £37/10 backpay.
It was pointed out by Mr. J. J. Sullivan that the Board had recently carried a resolution granting a bonus to Mr. Brett, of £20, at his own request.
Continuing, Mr. Sullivan said that during the latter portion of last year he had refrained from adversely criticising the Stock Inspector, in order to avoid friction. In the new year now, though, he had resolved to insist, so far as he was able, that the inspector should do his duty. An examination of the inspector's reports would show that his time had been spent in clerical work in the office. The stock inspector's duties were not and should not be confined to office-work. Why should the Board pay Mr. Brett £350 a year to do office work that could be done by a clerk for £150 Mr. Brett's duties were to attend personally to stock matters and to travel over the district for this purpose. Instead, he did no travelling worth mentioning. He was at present away on holidays and the Board would observe that practically no inconvenience would be caused the ratepayers or Board by his absence. Mr. Burgess was doing the little office work, usually done by Mr. Brett and so often referred to.
Mr. J. H. Kerr : Couldn't Mr. Burgess do all the clerical work.
Mr. Sullivan: It is natural that the inspector should have a little clerical work to do. I have noticed, however, that the permits that he always refers to in his report are in Mr. Burgess' handwriting.
Mr. O. S. Webb desired to know exactly what authority the Board had over Mr. Brett.
Mr. C. Boyd (chairman) explained that Mr. Brett was supposed to carry out any instruction he received from the Board, providing they did not clash with instructions he had already received from the Chief Inspector of Stock, Sydney.
Mr. Sullivan: His duties should be in connection with stock.
Mr. Kerr: Under the new regulations it might be just as well if he does stick to the office a little. (Laughter.)
Mr. Sullivan: I'll guarantee we will not have much to pay in the way of travelling expenses. What meals our Mr. Brett has will be in Bathurst.
Mr. Boyd : It is my opinion that the bonus would never have been agreed to if we had been aware that Mr. Brett was to shorty receive a rise and was also to get £30 or £40 back pay.
Mr. Brownlow: I was not at the meeting or I certainly would have opposed the bonus. It is not a pleasant matter to rescind a motion granting a bonus, but in view of the circumstances I am in favor of doing it. In fact, in fairness to the ratepayers, it is our duty to do so. Surely Mr. Brett would not have asked for the bonus had he had any idea that he was to receive a rise.
Mr. Sullivan: I have reason to believe that he was quite aware of it.
Mr. Stevenson: I'd like to be quite sure that he knew. From certain things that have been said it seems to me that he knew, or should have known.
Mr. Boyd: It was quite possible that he did.
Mr. Stevenson: If that is so we should take further steps in regard to the matter.
Mr. Brown: I think so too. The bonus was granted under a misunderstanding.
Mr. Brownlow moved that the resolution granting the bonus should be rescinded. Mr. Stevenson seconded the motion, which was carried.
Speaking in regard to the letter from the Chief Inspector, Mr. Sullivan said that he could see no justification whatever for the increase in the inspector's salary. He, personally, had been so dissatisfied with his work that he had opposed the granting of the bonus at the previous meeting. He had also spoken in opposition to making any allowance to Mr. Brett in connection with his attending the so-called Stock Inspectors' Institute Conference. He had warned the Board that the Institute was nothing more or less than a Stock Inspectors' Union, and now they were beginning to find out that what he said was true. Mr. Brett was one of the prime movers in the union and he would have no hesitating in saying that he knew perfectly well what had been going on in connection with the effort to have the salaries recast. He moved that the letter should be received and that the Board should record its strongest protest to the Minister fixing the inspector's salary without first consulting the Board.
In supporting his motion, Mr. Sullivan stated that the Boards were appointed by the ratepayers to look after their interests and the Government should leave such matters as the choosing of inspectors and fixing salaries to the Board. Instead, the Government, instead of paying any thing an support of the Boards, unjustly took from them each year three per cent, of their total rates. Why, he could not say, nor had he succeeded in finding anyone who could show justification.
Mr. Brownlow seconded the resolution. He stated that it was time the Board made a move against this kind of thing.
The motion was carried unanimously.