The Mudgee Pastures and Stock Protection Board met at Mudgee at the board's offices on Tuesday. There were present, Messrs. J. R. Atkinson (chairman), Macdonald, Jennings, Webb, Keech and Wilson.
The Department of Agriculture (Stock Branch) reminded the board that the law, as amended, made it necessary to elect a chairman each year. It was asked that the department be advised of the name of the new chairman.
On the motion of Mr. Macdonald, seconded by Mr. Jennings. Mr. J. R. Atkinson was formally elected chairman. The election was unanimous.
The chairman, in thanking the directors for his reelection, thought the responsibilities and work of the board would be very much heavier in the future than it bad been. (Hear, hear).
Mr. Webb: Yes; I must say that I am surprised at your acceptance of the position, with the outlook we have. (Laughter).
The chairman: Oh, I am on the telephone, and am the most convenient director for the chairman to communicate with. (Laughter).
Mr. Webb: I think the position of chairman is one that will not be much sought alter in future. (Hear, hear).
The Lands Department intimated the increase of the rate of interest on wire netting loans from five to six per cent.
The Bombala P.P. Board asked for cooperation in an endeavour to induce the Government to make advances of barb wire fencing on the same terms as wire netting. It was decided to take no action.
The Lands Department wrote forwarding a copy of a report by Senior Inspector James Campbell on the wire netting accounts of the board that were in arrears and commenting upon the same. It was thought "that the time had now arrived for making a very special effort to get in all outstanding accounts." It was therefore asked that the board make a special endeavour to obtain payment of all overdue instalments.
It was decided that arrears be recovered and that the solicitors to the board be instructed to take the necessary proceedings.
Inspector Campbell reported on his examination of the books and accounts of the board, which were entirely satisfactory, and recommended the writing off of rates, in small amounts, totalling £19/16/11. The AuditorGeneral had approved of the writing off of the rates as recommended.
The report, which the chairman characterised as highly satisfactory, was adopted.
The Chief Secretary intimated (April 11) that the open season for kangaroos, wallabies, and wallaroos had been proclaimed for the whole of the board's district to May 31. An early advice (March 11) had been of an open season for kangaroos for the parishes of Hargraves, Kerr, Millenbong, Suttor, Walters, Triambil, Tatrali, and Waurdong to March 31.
Stock Inspector—The Department of Agriculture (Stock Branch) intimated that the basic wage increase of £21 a year had been granted to all stock inspectors, as from February 1.—The communication was received.
Rabbit Inspector—The Department of Agriculture (Stock Branch) advised: "Approval has been granted for the salary of your rabbit inspector being increased from £208 per annum to £273 per annum, commencing from October 1, 1920. As the Minister has not the power to fix the salary of the rabbit inspector, this approval is given subject to the confirmation of your board."
The Secretary said, in reply to a question that the rabbit inspector's salary had been increased to £240. It was for the board to say whether the further increase should be made.
The Chairman said there was no doubt the basic wage would have to be paid.
The Inspector pointed out that he was not asking for the increase. He left it to the board. He was satisfied with his increase, as he had said he would, and would make no demand, at least at present.
The Secretary said the matter was in the hands of the board.
Mr Jennings moved that the board was not at present able to further increase the inspector's salary. Seconded by Mr. Webb.
The Chairman: I think the basic wage must be paid.
The Secretary: Not unless the inspector demands it.
The Inspector said he would make no demand at present. If he made a demand later, he would certainly not ask for arrears of the difference between his present salary and the basic wage. He would not ask that the increase be retrospective.
Mr. Jennings counselled that legal advice be taken. It might be that later Mr. M'Grath's union might take the matter out or his hands.
The Chairman thought they must pay the basic wage.
Mr. Daniel (C. D. Meares and Daniel), solicitor to the board, having been called into consultation, said he would like time for consideration of the points raised.
It was agreed to defer action on the communication until next meeting.
Secretary.—The Agricultural Department (Stock Branch) advised, as to basic wage applications, that the Minister had 'come to the decision that where secretaries are occupying other positions, or carrying on some business, and they can demonstrate to the board that their income is less than £525 per annum from all sources, consideration might be given to the questlon of their receiving a proportion of the basic wage increase.
The Secretary intimated that he was not going to make any application in respect of the basic wage, but he would make an independent application for some consideration in the way of increase of salary, to which he thought he was entitled. He had been on the same salary for the past nine years. He also provided office accommodation, which he thought was worth something and should count for something. He did not think the basic wage application applied to him under all the circumstances. His application was an independent one, and he would rely chiefly on the fact that his work and responsibilities would be greatly increased under the operation of the new regulations. His salary was £125, including office accommodation.
Mr. Jennings had always wondered during his time in office, as he had dealt with application after application for increases, when the secretary was going to make his application for an increase of salary. And he had made up his mind that when such application was made he would support it.
It was agreed that the matter should stand over until the board had considered the new regulations and the position they created.
Upon the matter again coming up for consideration, Mr. Lovejoy emphasised that his salary was £125 a year, out of which he had to find the office accommodation. His salary had not been increased within the past eight or nine years, though things had moved up considerably in the meantime. His was one of the lowest paid salaries in the State.
The Chairman: The lowest.
It was stated that the salaries of many of the secretaries ranged from £300 up to £350 a year.
Mr. Keech moved for the increase of the secretary's salary by £52 a year because of the great increase of work under the new regulations.
Mr. Jennings seconded.
Mr. Webb was doubtful whether they were going far enough. If they found out in three months' experience of the work under the new regulations that the position was still underpaid they could still further increase the salary. He thought himself they would find that.
Mr. Lovejoy was willing to accept the increase proffered for three months.
It was pointed out that the board would be able to change the increase in the secretary's salary and other additional administration charges incurred and because of the increase of work made by the new regulations system against the new revenue from the new travelling rates (for stock reserve and routes improvement) so that the additional administration costs would not fall on the general revenues of the board.
The secretary of the Pastures Boards' Council of Advice intimated that the annual meeting would be held on May 19 and 20 at Sydney. The board was invited to list business for consideration and to forward the name of the board's delegate and nominations for position on the board.
It was pointed out that the board was included in the eastern division, though all its interests were in the central, and contributed to the expenses of the central representative. The chairman (Mr. Atkinson) was unanimously appointed the board's delegate.
It was also decided to nominate the chairman for election as the representative of the eastern district at the Council of the Board of Advice.
The Institute of Stock Inspectors advised that the annual conference would be held in Sydney on May 24, 25, 26, and 27, and asked that the attendance of the inspector should be facilitated.
Mr. Jennings, who thought the conference deliberations with regard to diseases in stock must be of great advantage to the board and the district, especially to sheep-owners, moved that the stock inspector be given leave to attend the conference, and £5/5/ expenses.
The motion was not seconded.
Mr. Webb moved that the inspector be granted leave to attend the conference.
Seconded by Mr. Macdonald, and carried.
The Mudgee Centenary Celebrations Committee asked for assistance in the liquidation of the deficit in the centenary celebration accounts.—It was decided that no action be taken.
The Department of Agriculture (Stock Branch) wrote urging the desirability of the collection and arrangement by stock inspectors of collections of known and alleged poisonous plants. Later on the question of exhibiting the collections made could be considered.
It was decided to co-operate in the scheme.
The Rabbit Inspector (Mr. D. E. M'Grath) reported:—
"I have visited the following centres: Gulgong, Uarbry, Craboon, Tallawang, Yamble, Merrendee, Pine Park. M'Donald's Creek, Bara, Lue, Rylstone, Capertec Valley, Nulla Mount, Narrango, Cudgegong, Crudine, Cooyal, and Piambong, and found rabbits on the increase in many parts of the district, particularly in various holdings in Capertee Valley, and a few places at Piambong and Talbragar River. In the parts of the district travelled over the destruction has and is being carried out in a satisfactory manner, but in other parts such is not the case. In such cases I have given notice to the owners of the land to destroy, and would urge the board to enforce the destruction in such cases. I have visited several places where I had previously given notice to destroy, and found that the work of destruction has been well done. In a very few cases the work was not done in a satisfactory manner. Many of the landholders are depending too much on trappers to come along and destroy the rabbits. This method is not satisfactory at the present time, the carcases and skins being so cheap that the trappers are not very anxious to trap. Landowners would have much better results if they were to work their poison carts more and attend to the destruction of harbours."
Mr. Jennings said the rabbits were taking matter very well, especially on the bare hill ground.
Mr. Keech urged vigorous action against the rabbits. The inspector should be supported, and prosecutions should issue in all cases of sustained negligence.
The Inspector said the weakness was the unavoidable delay in the institution of proceedings, as to which there was a whole lot of circumlocution.
Mr. Keech said there was nothing for it but prosecution where good work was not being done. There was no doubt that the rabbits were increasing.
The report was adopted, the inspector to take it as an instruction to prosecute in cases where landowners were not doing satisfactory destruction work.
The Department of Agriculture (Stock Branch) advised that the new regulations were gazetted on April 8 and came into force from that date. Copies of the new regulations would be forwarded. Detailed information and instructions as to the administration of the new regulations, and as to book and account keeping under them, were given. The reappointment of acting-inspectors for the issue of permits would be necessary.
The travelling rates imposed by the regulations were as follow:— (a) 10d for each 100 sheep or portion thereof for each ten miles or portion thereof; (b) 1/ for each 25 head of large stock or portion thereof for 10 miles or portion thereof. The rate shall be paid by the owner of such stock for the whole distance to be travelled exclusive of the distance to be travelled by rail. The rate would be payable to the secretaries of the board or to other persons (the acting inspectors) authorised by the secretaries to accept payment. Quarterly adjustments of payments of charges would have to be made as between pastures protection districts and the proportions due to the several boards would be forwarded to them quarterly by the secretaries. Less the cost of collection and of supervision the revenue derived from the travelling charges was hypothecated for expenditure upon the improvement of the travelling stock reserves. The old travelling charges would still be levied (in addition to the travelling rates) on the return travelling of stock that remained less than four months in a district. The proceeds of these would continue to go into the general revenues of the boards.
The new regulations were read and explained in detail by the stock inspector (Mr. Whyte).
The question having been raised it was decided that no payment should be offered to the acting inspectors (now permanent inspectors) for the issue of permits. The stock inspector undertook to personally explain to the inspectors the nature of the new regulations and the obligations they imposed. The list of Inspectors was revised and several names were eliminated.
It was explained that the new regulations would come into force upon receipt of the books and forms.
The Inspector said it would be necessary that his office should be close to that of the secretary. He had ascertained that the office on the western side of the Town Hall could be rented for £30 a year, as against £15 a year that was paid for the present office at the Cudgegong Council Chambers.
It was decided to make an offer of £25 a year for the Town Hall office. It was thought this was a fair rental.
Mr. Jennings moved that district auctioneers be asked to announce before sales the terms and requirements of the new regulations, and to explain to buyers that they must secure permits and pay the travelling rates, and that no stock can be removed until the permit has been obtained and the rates and charges paid.—Seconded by Mr. Webb, and carried.
The chairman mentioned the matter of providing a motor car for the stock inspector. This, he thought, was now becoming absolutely necessary.
Mr. Webb counselled delay. He thought the cost of motor cars would be down very much in the near future. He suggested that in the meantime a motor cycle and side car be hired for special journeys. Great work on long journeys could be done with these motor cycles, which could now be hired very cheaply.
It was agreed to allow the matter to stand over to the next meeting. The chairman and inspector were empowered to make arrangements in special cases.
It was decided that the water and camping reserve at Two Mile Flat, Biraganbil, occupied by J. Gardiner, be withdrawn from lease.