23rd Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I preface my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry by stating that on Wednesday, 15th April, 1 asked a question dealing with wool promotion. On that occasion my reference to the inroads being made by nylon was received hilariously by Australian Country Party members opposite. I now invite the attention of the Minister to the statement which appeared in the editorial section of a programme issued by the Melbourne Football Club - incidentally, the oldest football club in Australia - which is in these terms -
An innovation tried during our match last Saturday was the use of nylon guernseys on all players. Their appearance and quality generally won praise from the critics. The players found them more comfortable to wear, and it appears as if yet another use has been found for nylon.
In view of the recent resolutions of the Australian Woolgrowers Council, will the Minister ask the Australian Wool Bureau to contact sporting organizations and inform them of the advantages to be derived from the use of woollen goods, and, at the same time, emphasize that nylon does not absorb perspiration, with the result that persons wearing nylon clothing subject themselves to the risk of chills which may have serious consequences?
– I remember the occasion on which the honorable senator asked his previous question on this subject, which dealt partly with the fact that flags are being made of nylon instead of, as formerly, of cotton, and partly with the fact that football players are now wearing jerseys made of nylon instead of wool. All I can say is that if nylon football jerseys prove to be as unsatisfactory as the honorable senator claims, then in the normal course of competition wool, undoubtedly, will replace the nylon articles, not only on the football field but also in other fields as well.
– The Minister did not hear my question.
– I did. A study of the recent wool prices will indicate not only that the Wool Production Board and the Wool Promotion Committee are doing a remarkably good job, but also that wool is strengthening its position in the market. However, I shall ask the Minister whether he will consider informing the football club concerned that Senator Hendrickson is opposed to players wearing nylon jerseys.
– My question, which is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, arises out of the ruling given by the Full High Court last week to the effect that the law governing preference to returned soldiers is invalid. Will the Minister assure the Senate that there will not be any change in Government, policy regarding the employment of returned soldiers?
– I did see the newspaper report of the court proceedings to which the honorable senator has referred but I am unable to state offhand the full ramifications of the court ruling. However, I have made inquiries as to the position generally and I can inform honorable senators that the Government will not make any alteration in the existing arrangements by which preference is given to exservicemen. The honorable senator may remember that this matter is mentioned in the report of the committee, of which Sir Richard Boyer was chairman, dealing with recruitment of staff for the Public Service, and is one of the matters for consideration by the Government. The Government has not yet considered the committee’s report, and I should think that the appropriate time at which to make a decision will be when it has done so. In the meantime, so far as I am aware, there will be no alteration in existing Government policy.
– I preface a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry by directing attention to a statement in the press last week to the effect that an outstanding discovery had been made by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization relating to the manufacture, from wool, of a drip-dry cloth. In that article it was suggested that in the near future garments such as shirts and articles of women’s clothing apparel could be made with this new material. Does the Minister believe that this new discovery will create an increase in the demand for wool in Australia, and will he see that publicity is given overseas to this new discovery?
– I did not see the newspaper article to which the honorable senator refers, but I have heard statements from time to time about this matter, and I have spoken with members of the Wool Production Board and the Wool Promotion Committee about it. I understand it is true that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has managed to develop a method by which drip-dry woollen material can be made into shirts that are indistinguishable in appearance from nylon shirts, that require no ironing and that last twice as long as the nylon article. I am sure that once this process is put to commercial use wool, when manufactured into drip-dry garments, will capture a very greatly increased percentage of the market in Australia.
I know that this matter is engaging the attention of the Minister for Primary Industry and of the Wool Promotion Committee. One problem is that of persuading the manufacturers to install the machinery required to manufacture this type of woollen drip-dry material, but I am sure that the advantages of this material are so great that the machinery will be installed. I believe that the Minister for Primary Industry will do all that he can to foster the production of the new woollen material.
– I ask the
Minister representing the Minister for Immigration whether there is any truth in a report that over-glamourized pictures of Australia are being given at Australia House. London, to intending migrants. If this is so, will the Minister ensure that more specific and accurate information regarding available services and conditions is provided so that British migrants will not be disappointed upon arrival in Australia?
– I am not aware that over-glamourized pictures of Australia have been given to migrants, but if the honorable senator will put her question on the notice-paper I shall bring it to the attention of the Minister for Immigration, Mr. Downer, and ask him give her a considered answer.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, lt has been announced that 60 employees have been dismissed from a shoe factory at Maldon, a small country town. The reason given amongst others, is that this is due to Japanese competition, as well as competition from plastics. Will the Minister refer this complaint to the special officer examining the effects of the Japanese trade treaty, and see whether these dismissals can be avoided - particularly in small country centres?
– I am sorry to say that I did not see the newspaper report to which the honorable senator has referred. Nor have I any knowledge of the circumstances he mentions. 1 ask him to put the question on notice.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. In view of the vital interest of South-East Asia to Australia, and the generally sparse knowledge among Australian people of Asian affairs, will the Prime Minister arrange for an authority from the School of Asian Studies at the Australian National University to visit the larger cities and towns of Australia in order to give a series of lectures on the various aspects of the subject? Will the Prime Minister also see that South Australia is not bypassed, as so often happens when itineraries are being arranged in Commonwealth circles? Last year that State set an excellent example to other States by arranging the first, and overwhelmingly successful. Asian festival, demonstrating the awakening interest in this highly important subject - an interest which well deserves stimulation and encouragement.
– The suggestion that South Australia might be bypassed would, T am certain, drive even the salaries and allowances question off the front pages of the newspapers. As to the remainder of the question, I shall have to ask that ft be put on notice. It contemplates reducing the staff at the Australian National University for the purpose indicated, and I would noi know offhand whether that was practicable. I will have the matter examined.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. Has the Minister seen the statement dated 17th April, by the chairman of the South African Wool Board, Dr. Jan Moolman, that the success of the South African wool stabilization scheme was certain to influence the move in Australia for producer protection? The press report then went on to say that the South African scheme was responsible for the recent improvement of the wool market. I ask the Minister whether, in view of the widespread difference in point of view among Australian wool-growers and wool experts - including senators - on the advisability or otherwise of an Australian floor price for wool, he will have his departmental officers prepare a document setting out the various arguments for and against this proposal under Australian conditions. T ask this question against a background of awareness of the importance to the whole of the Australian economy of the price of wool.
– I can only tell Senator Anderson that I will take an early opportunity to discuss his suggestion with the Minister for Trade when he returns from abroad later this week. I think that throughout, in matters such as this, the policy has been to ensure that whatever is done is done with the support and approval of the growers themselves. They have the biggest stake in the matter and I should like the Minister for Trade himself to decide whether it would be desirable for the Government to step into the ring with a statement of pros and cons - however honestly and impartially it might attempt to portray the situation. I shall talk to the Minister about it when T see him.
Commentary on Televised Film.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Has the Postmaster-
General seen the television film of the opening of the Twenty-third Parliament? If so, has he noticed a number of inaccuracies in the commentary? Will the PostmasterGeneral review the commentary with a view to careful editing, so that the inaccuracies can be corrected?
– I have seen the film of the opening of the present Parliament. Some need certainly exists for editing parts of the film, but, as that is a matter for the Postmaster-General, I ask the honorable senator to place her question on the notice-paper.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Recent Government announcements have been made, indicating that the Department of Trade intends to have Australian exhibits at the forthcoming fairs at Poznan in Poland, and Basle in Switzerland. Will the Minister discuss with his colleague, Mr. Downer, the possibility of a display being staged by the Department of Immigration, alongside the trade exhibits, of what Australia offers to the European migrant? According to my observations, this policy was successfully used by Canada at the recent Brussels Fair.
– The suggestion is an excellent one. An Australian immigration promotion exhibit alongside an Australian sales promotion exhibit, the two going hand in hand, would be of great value to Australia. I shall certainly place the suggestion before the Minister for Immigration and let the honorable senator have a reply as early as possible.
– 1 preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister for National Development, by stating that recently United Uranium NX. is reported to have made satisfactory sales of uranium oxide to the British Atomic Energy Commission. This is my question: Is it essential to the well-being of the Australian economy that additional supplies of uranium be found in this country? If it is, will the Minister consider increasing the maximum reward for the discovery of uranium ores in places that are not near deposits already discovered, from £25,000, which was fixed in 1949-50, to a comparable amount on present-day values?
– I inform the honorable senator, in reply to the earlier portion of his question, that it is the policy of the Government to further the search for uranium. At the present time, there is a great supply of uranium throughout the world; indeed, there is somewhat of an over-supply, which has led to a fall in prices. However, it is thought that that is a passing phase and that, as the use of atomic power develops, so will the demand for uranium oxide increase. It is believed, on present indications, that although there are ample supplies at present, in five, six or seven years’ time uranium will again be in short supply. Therefore, from the viewpoint of our being able to export uranium oxide in addition to supplying our own requirements, it is believed that we should do what we can to ensure that further deposits are uncovered in Australia.
Whether that objective would be achieved by increasing the reward opens up a very big question, and I would not like to express an opinion on it offand. I should like to give a good deal of thought as to whether that is the right way to go about increasing interest in the search for uranium. I have my own doubts about it. I have other thoughts in mind as to what we might do to achieve a better result. Nevertheless, the suggestion having come from Senator Scott, I shall see that it goes before the Australian Atomic Energy Commission and is considered.
asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The following answers are now supplied: -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Postmaster-General has now furnished the following replies: -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer: - 1 and 2. It is true that the £20,000,000 sterling cash and conversion loan floated by Australia in London last month was under-subscribed. Cash and conversion applications totalled £8,100,000 sterling, leaving £11,900,000 sterling, or a little less than 60 per cent, of the issue, to be taken up by the underwriters. However, I may point out that it is not altogether unusual for loans issued, here or overseas, to be under-subscribed. In the past, several Australian loans in London have been under-subscribed by more than 60 per cent, and, on other occasions, the state of the London market was such that maturing Commonwealth securities could not be financed at all.
As I explained at the time, the principal reason for the under-subscription of the loan was the uncertain tone of the London market which followed political events in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Indeed, it was a tribute to Australia’s high credit standing that we were able to get on to the London market at all for a loan as large as this in the uncertain atmosphere prevailing at the time. No other country borrowing on the London market could have bettered the terms obtained by Australia for a fully underwritten loan of this magnitude on a long-term basis. What is more, these terms represented an appreciable improvement on those for other recent Australian loans in London. It must be remembered too that this loan followed only five months after the remarkably successful £20,000,000 sterling cash loan which we raised in London last October. These two loans, totalling in all £50,000,000 Australian, have been of immense benefit to Australia’s balance of payments this yew.
Since the cash and conversion loan closed last month, the market performance of the two new stocks issued in that loan has been very satisfactory. While trading commenced for both stocks at a discount of about i per cent, on the issue price, they later attracted considerable interest and their prices improved appreciably against a generally weak trend in the market. Early this month, the prices of both stocks had returned to the issue price, or better, and I think we can be very satisfied with the whole operation. I have no doubt that further borrowing opportunities will arise on the London market over the next few years, and that the result of the recent loan will have no adverse effect whatsoever on the terms which we will be able to negotiate in the future.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The Minister for Immigration has furnished the following replies: -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Postmaster-General has furnished the following information: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
Minister for the Interior has furnished the following replies: - 1, 2 and 3. The firm of A. E. Goodwin Limited has occupied substantial Commonwealth buildings at St. Mary’s since 1946. The rentals were fixed at what can only be termed “ concessional rates “ in order to encourage the speedy re-establishment of industry immediately after the war. A few years later the company was placed in the hands of a receiver, and the Commonwealth rendered every possible assistance by allowing the considerable arrears of rental owing to it to be funded and paid off over a number of years with interest at 3 per cent. The company recovered, and for some years now has been in a healthy financial position with its shares buoyant and paying dividends of 10 per cent. The terms of the tenancy provide for periodical revision of the rental, insurance of the buildings by the company, maintenance by the company, and payment of a sewerage charge. The company has not carried out maintenance, has not paid the sewerage, and has steadfastly refused to insure the buildings for anything like their real value. In addition, difficulty has been experienced in obtaining payment for electricity supplied by the Commonwealth. For years every effort has been made by the Commonwealth to get the company to agree to a rental more in keeping with the value of the property occupied and in keeping with the rentals being paid by other tenants at the St. Mary’s industrial estate but without success. The company was interested in purchase, but again the company’s offer was considerably below what the Commonwealth regarded as a reasonable figure. The whole of the circumstances surroundinK the company’s occupation at St. Mary’s were fully considered by Cabinet, and whilst the Government is not anxious to see the company transfer from St. Mary’s it considers the firm has been a most unsatisfactory tenant and cannot allow it to continue in occupation under terms which virtually amount to a Government subsidy.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
With reference to the announcement in the policy speech of an inquiry on the subject of taxation generally, can the Treasurer give any indication to the Senate as to whether or not the scope and the nature of that inquiry have been decided on by the Government, and in relation to the nature of the inquiry, the expected duration, and the process before remedial legislation on the general assessment of tax can be expected?
– The Treasurer has advised as follows: -
These matters are under active consideration, and I anticipate that an announcement wiil te made in the near future.
– by leave - Civil aviation delegations from Canada and Australia, meeting in Melbourne to review the air agreement between the two countries, decided that the present agreement which was negotiated in 1946 was now inadequate to meet the needs of the coming jet era in world aviation. In particular, it did not fully recognize the very close political and commercial affinity of the two countries which was traditional in its origins and had been substantially developed in the post-war years. Since the matters involved were of a highly technical nature, the discus; ions could not be concluded in the time available at Melbourne. The discussions have now been adjourned, but are expected to resume shortly, possibly in Canada. Meanwhile, the existing air services between Canada and Australia will continue on a weekly basis. It is hoped that a new bilateral air transport agreement between Canada and Australia may be concluded before the end of the year.
– by leave - I wish to announce to honorable senators that approval has been given for the setting up of the import licensing advisory appeals board to hear appeals against departmental action taken when people holding import quotas and thus able to get import licences, are found to have sold the licences instead of using them to cover their own imports.
It has always been made very plain by my colleague, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEvven) and myself, that in any case where the holder of a licence disposes of his licences in that way, appropriate action will be taken and whenever sufficient evidence has been available, action has been taken. some of these cases are very difficult to determine as there can be a narrow borderline between whether a licence holder has sold the licence or made use of it in a regular and acceptable manner. But there are cases very definitely on the wrong side of the line, in which the evidence clearly shows that all the licence holder does is obtain a licence against his quota and then sell the piece of paper to some one else. The licence holder takes no real part in importing the goods. Very often .his part quite clearly amounts, in effect, to nothing. All he does is hand over the licence for a price - and that is that. In other cases he takes part in a sort of documentary camouflage to make it seem that he is the importer, but when you get behind it, he has done nothing but sell the licence.
Under the administrative arrangement for establishing import quotas, the Government has made it possible for quota holders to obtain licences regularly and without delay, within the limits of their quotas, to cover goods they wish to import for the carrying on of their business. But the Government gives the quota holder a licence authorizing him to import the goods not a licence which he is entitled to sell to some one else. I want to make it clear that the licence covers the bona fide imports of the holder, and those imports only. Selling licences is an abuse of the import licensing system and action will be taken whenever the facts show that licences have been sold.
When it is suspected that a quota holder has sold licences, the matter is investigated by my department which then submits a report to an interdepartmental committee comprising officers of the Department of Trade and the Department of Customs and Excise. If this committee is of the opinion that the quota holder has in fact sold licences, the action taken is to cancel his quota - all or in part. Where the buyer is a regular importer with quota facilities, he usually is required to carry a debit against his quota to the value of the “bought” licences. There have to be two parties to these transactions - a seller and a buyer - otherwise there would not be any selling of licences. The buyer is as much in the wrong as the seller.
I know that arguments are put up that by buying licences the buyer has shown that he needs more quota, and sometimes this is claimed to the Department of Trade as a sort of final proof that he should be given more quota. As I see it, the true position is that he is willing to take an unfair advantage of his business competitors who are observing the rules, by getting extra imports by irregular methods. The way it appears to me is that the buyer has in fact secured an advance on his quota, and, as such, a corresponding debit to that quota is made. This seems quite a logical and sensible approach, and one which has been endorsed by responsible members of the commercial community. The action taken in these cases is pretty drastic, but it is the necessary and only answer to licence selling. I have mentioned some of these cases are difficult to decide and are close to the borderline. These are a grave responsibility on the officers dealing with them. It is therefore natural that in some cases the person concerned will wish to appeal.
The interdepartmental committee to which I referred will continue to operate as in the past, but in future the affected person will be entitled to appeal to the Advisory Appeal Board which will subsequently make a recommendation to me. The board will consist of two nongovernmental members chosen for their experience in the commercial world, and an officer of the Department of Customs and Excise as chairman. It will be a counterpart of the Import Licensing Advisory Review Boards set up some time ago to hear appeals on other import licensing matters. In fact, I hope to arrange for the nongovernmental members of the New South Wales Advisory Review Board, to serve also on the Advisory Appeal Board, which will be located at Sydney.
Motions (by Senator McKenna) - by leave - agreed to -
That Senator Critchley be granted leave of absence for one month, on account of ill health.
That Senator Fraser be granted leave of absence for one month, on account of ill health.
That Senator Sheehan be granted leave of absence for one month, on account of ill health.
That Senator O’Byrne be granted leave of absence for one month, on account of ill health.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir Walter Cooper) read a first time.
[3.53]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the bill is to give certain voting rights to the member for the Northern Territory in the House of Representatives. In 1922, when provision was first made for the election of a member to represent the Northern Territory in that House, the member was given no right of voting in the House. In 1936 he was given the right of voting on any motion for the disallowance of an ordinance of the Territory. Since the establishment of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory, under the Northern Territory (Administration) Act 1947, the power of disallowing ordinances of the Territory has resided in the Governor-General and not in the Parliament. Consequently, the member for the Northern Territory at present has no effective voting rights of any kind in the House.
Both inside the Territory and outside it, there are people who represent that it is undemocratic for the citizens of any part of Australia not to be represented by a member with full voting rights. At first sight, this view may have an appeal, but it ignores certain facts relating to the composition of the House of Representatives. The number of members to be elected to that House is determined according to population, and the number of voters in each electorate is fixed, in conformity with conditions set down in the Commonwealth Constitution and the Electoral Act, in order to make electorates approximately equal to each other. The numerical strength of electorates may not fall below or rise above certain limits. As a result of the observance of these requirements of the law, the average number of voters in the norma] electorate at the time of the last election was 44,136. The number of voters for electorates ranged between 31,000 and 65,000. In contrast with these figures, the number of voters enrolled in the Northern Territory at the same election was less than 8,000. It is contrary to the conditions on which the House of Representatives has been constructed that a member representing a constituency of less than 8,000 should have the same power as a member representing over 40,000.
Often, it may be argued, the vote of one member in the House has little effect on the decisions of the House. Yet, in the final outcome, the vote of a member can determine the fate of a government and decide whether a government stays in office or goes out of office. The issue that was put to the members of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory when they met representatives of the Government in Canberra in July, 1958, and pressed their claim for full voting rights for the member for the Northern Territory in the House of Representatives was this: Should the member for the Northern Territory be put in the position where his vote could decide the fate of an Australian Government? No matter what party is in government or in opposition, is it just that the representative of 8,000 electors should have the same power as a representative of over 40,000 electors? Should the vote of an elector in the Northern Territory have about six times the weight of the vote of an average elector elsewhere in Australia in the determination of the fate of an Australian government? Would this be in accord with the spirit of those sections of the Constitution which require that membership of the House of Representatives should be determined by population quotas?
The members of the Legislative Council recognized that this was a substantial point. The Government, therefore, looked for a formula which would give the member some voting rights on matters relating to the Northern Territory, but which would exclude him from voting on an issue that could determine the fate of a government.
The Government’s proposal in this bill is that the member will be able to vote on any proposed law that relates solely to the Northern Territory, or on any motion tor the disallowance of regulations made under an ordinance of the Territory. Whether a proposed law conies within the definition will be determined in the first place by the ruling of the Speaker or the Chairman of Committees, subject to the customary provision that if the House dissents from the presiding officer’s ruling the view of the House will prevail. This will give the member for the Northern Territory a limited voting right where at present he has no voting right of any kind.
While commending this proposal to the Senate, I would suggest that we should not minimize the value of the presence of a member in the House of Representatives quite apart from his voting power. The member can speak and ask questions in the House; he can bring the Territory viewpoint before his colleagues both in the party room and the House; he can make representations to the Government on any matter. An active, determined and intelligent member, no matter from what part of Australia he comes, can achieve perhaps more by his work as a member in the chamber and out of it than he achieves as one vote among many. His influence and his power for good are by no means limited to his presence at divisions. I commend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Benn) adjourned.
– I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
I have no intention of speaking to the second reading. As honorable senators will recall, when the Senate last sat I made a fairly comprehensive speech covering the three associated bills. I merely remind honorable senators that an arrangement was made that we would debate the second reading of the Ministers of State Bill and that the discussion would cover the contents of the three bills which, together, make up the legislation on this question. I gave the Leader of the Opposition an assurance that in so doingI would not attempt to restrict the right of any honorable senator to speak to the second reading, or the committee stage, of the second or third bills. That assurance, of course, stands, and the debate will proceed as the Senate may desire.
. -I concur in what the Leader of the Government has said to the effect that this is one of three bills which, by agreement, were debated together at the second-reading stage of the Ministers of State Bill last week. I then expressed the view that that procedure would no doubt shorten the debate at the second-reading stage of each of the remaining bills.I do not propose to traverse the argument that I addressed to the Senate last week when I amply put the Opposition’s viewpoint - that we supported this measure because of the basic rises provided by it in the salaries, and in the electorate allowance, of all members of the Parliament. I indicated then, and I repeat now, my intention in committee to seek a number of amendments in the terms of a draft which has been circulated for some time in the Senate. The position has changed somewhat in that, in the interim, the Ministers of State Bill has been passed. With that decision before us, one must concede that there is room for some upgrading in the emoluments of officers of the Parliament, of leaders and officers of Opposition parties, and Whips. The Opposition persists in the view that the increases under those heads should not be of the order provided in the bill. We shall deal with that in committee in due course.
My main purpose in rising is to open one new matter. I note, on referring to the report of the committee, that in determining the amount payable to widows under the contributory pensions system, the committee provided that the figure £15 should be the equivalent of five-sixths of the amount awarded to the member, namely £18. The committee did not refer specifically to that proportion in so fixing it, but it is quite obvious that that is what the committee had in mind. When it came to deal with non-contributory pensions it referred in specific terms to the fact that the widow’s pension should be five-sixths of that of the member pensioned.
The point to which I should like the Senate to address some thought is the fact that the committee’s recommendation is to preserve the margin of £3 in favour of a member who retires and reaches the age of 65 years. In other words, the £18 a week pension for that person will, on his attaining the age of 65, rise to £21. I assume that it was the intention of the committee to preserve the five-sixths margin in relation to that additional £3. Nothing is said specifically on the point in the report, but it seems to me to be clear that that was the mind of the committee. Nothing having been provided on the point in this bill, I ask the Minister to note my remarks, and suggest that it might well be referred to the committee for further consideration, so that the five-sixths margin will be available in favour of widows where the pensioner, or the member, has reached 65 years of ageIn other words, the widow’s pension in the case of a member who retires, and is 65 years of age, will rise from £15 to £17 10s. I see one honorable senator looking at me with rather a perplexed expression. Perhaps J have not made myself quite clear. My point is that in the case of a widow her proportion of the additional £3 payable when the member of Parliament reaches 65 should be preserved. I suggest that the principle enunciated in other contexts by the committee should be preserved1 there.
– Regardless of the widow’s age?
– That is the thought that I have in mind. That is what was done in 1952, when the present Government sponsored a similar proposal. I recall that in 1952, when an additional amount was provided for a person who reached 65 years, an additional £1 5s. a week was provided for his widow, regardless of her age. That principle was dropped by the Government in 1955, when the total amount of the widow’s pension was increased substantially, to £10 a week. T merely indicate that nobody in the Government appears to have addressed his mind to the point I am raising at the moment. I might add that it has not been considered by the Opposition. It does seem to me to be a point that was overlooked in the first instance by the committee, which did not deal with it specifically, and apparently nobody in the Government has addressed1 his mind to it.
– You are referring, noi to the time when the widow reaches 65 years, but to the time when her husband, if he had been alive, would have reached 65?
– Yes. The principle of depending upon the member reaching 65, not upon the widow reaching a similar age, was preserved in the 1952 legislation of the Government. The Minister can refer to the act, if he so wishes. I looked at it yesterday through a haze of influenza. Despite the haze, I am sure. I have reached the right conclusion on that point. I rose particularly to direct attention to that new aspect that has come to my notice and to suggest that the Government give some consideration to it. The Government might well refer the matter back to the committee for specific determination, if it sees virtue in the proposal. I personally commend it. The matter could then be dealt with at a subsequent period when the legislation is under review.
– It is with some diffidence that t rise to speak on this bill. Having only recently entered the Senate, I am not in a position to know whether the amounts paid to honorable senators in the past were sufficient or otherwise. Consequently, I have had to take the advice of honorable senators who have been here for some time, particularly those whose opinions and pronouncements on this subject I respect. From what they have told me, quite apart from the Richardson report, I have reached the conclusion that in most instances, particularly where a member of Parliament has to live solely on his parliamentary salary, the amount received in the past has not been sufficient.
I recall that on the occasion of the 1947 increase there was a great public outcry and many expressions of condemnation of the very thought that parliamentary salaries should be increased. We hear that outcry once again. I recall also that on the occasion of the increase in 1947 it was my firm belief that, as a result of the increase, we would get a better type of member. I recall remarking to a friend later that I felt that that increase was one of the reasons why we had a better type of parliamentary candidate at the next elections. I feel that the present increases also will result in our having a better type of parliamentarian.
I am fully aware that a member of Parliament who has to live solely on his salary, particularly a member with a young family, is very hard put to it to bring up his family in the manner in which he would like. May I say that when I decided to nominate for the Senate, I did not know what the salary was? I am in the perhaps happy position of not having to rely solely on my parliamentary salary. I say that by way of background to the remarks I am making. I know that some members have to rely solely on their salaries. If they have young families, I am convinced that they cannot do justice to their families on the salaries that they have been receiving. It is fairly obvious to all of us that if a man does not look after his family, he cannot expect anybody else to do so.
In the past, by reason of my position as the chairman of an electorate council, it has been my duty to interview prospective parliamentary candidates. On occasions I had the uncomfortable feeling, when asking a person to nominate as a candidate, that I was asking him to do something that was against his best financial interests. Indeed, on one occasion I felt very relieved when the person I approached gave me an answer in the negative. I felt that it was greatly to his benefit financially that he had decided not to stand.
It has been said that it is a great honour to be elected to Parliament. I fully concur. It is a great privilege to ‘be allowed to come here and take some small part in the governing of this country, but the position carries with it, of course, a great responsibility. I propose to deal with that aspect of the situation at a later stage.
I am told that the increases that have been recommended by the Richardson committee will, in the case of a member who lives solely on his parliamentary salary, amount to a net salary increase of £245. That will be the position after income tax and superannuation contributions have been deducted. It is not an exorbitant amount. It has been suggested that members of Parliament should set an example to the rest of the community, but are we so naive as to believe that if we rejected these salary increases, professional men such as doctors, dentists and accountants would say, “ In view of the example set by members of Parliament, we are going to make a reduction of 10 per cent. in our charges in order to follow their example “? We would indeed be naive if we thought that that would happen.
I remind honorable senators that some years ago a New South Wales State Government voluntarily reduced parliamentary salaries and that at the next election that Government was promptly turned out of office. We have had an example in this chamber. A Tasmanian senator refused to accept a salary increase on the last occasion when parliamentary salaries were increased. What happened to him at the next election? He was turned out of office. It has been suggested that we should not accept any increase of salary until increases have been granted to age pensioners. Dairy farmers and other sections of the community have also been mentioned. Is it seriously suggested that the wants of those sections of the community should be satisfied before any attempt is made to improve the conditions of members of Parliament? If that suggestion was followed, obviously we would never get anything, because there would always be some section in the community which, through some mischance or force of circumstances, would have an unsatisfied claim. We would be left lamenting until all the others were satisfied. So I do not think that suggestion holds water.
It has been said also that this is not the opportune time to propose an increase of parliamentary salaries. I have taken an interest in politics throughout the whole of my life, and I have never yet heard it suggested that the time was opportune to increase payments to parliamentarians, nor do I think I ever will. So I do not think that that statement, either, holds water. It is not correct to say, as has been suggested, that these increases will cost a huge sum of money. I have been told on good authority that, if the total cost of the increases was given to the age pensioners, it would amount to twopence for each pensioner. I remind honorable senators that the cost of administering the affairs of the Commonwealth is 5s. 5d. per head of population. So I do not think the cost of these increases will add greatly to the weight of taxation that people are required to bear.
– Is that 5s. 5d. per head per annum?
– I think so. I have never yet known the man who gave me these figures to be wrong, but of course there must always be a first time. 1 ask those who are of the opinion that the increases to be granted are too big to consider some of the factors associated with the offices that are held by some of the gentlemen affected. I do not care whether Mr. Menzies or the present Leader of the Opposition happens to be the Prime Minister; I feel that the office imposes a very great burden. I feel that, were it not for the fact that the present Prime Minister was possessed of an exceptional temperament, he would have been forced to lay down the burden of office long ago.
We know what has happened to men who have held that office in the past. The lives of Mr. Lyons, Mr. Curtin, Mr. Chifley and Mr. Scullin, as was mentioned in this chamber recently, were all shortened considerably by the burdens of office and the responsibilities those men had to accept. We know that this is a free country and that people are not compelled to accept those offices, but those who have accepted them have done so, in the first place, out of a sense of duty. I believe that we as Australians should ensure that, when such men have given years of good service and have been burnt out - that is what has happened to some in the past, and what will happen to many more in the future - they should not be cast aside on the scrap heap. We should not say, in effect, “ It is just too bad. I suppose now we will just have to get somebody to fill your place “. That is what we have done in the past, but it is not to our credit.
The proposed salaries for some of the portfolios may seem to be high, but let us have a look at the senior portfolios. That which comes to mind first in this portfolio of the Treasury. I do not think there is any doubt that all of us who knew the axTreasurer would agree that, if he had remained in that office very much longer, he would have seriously impaired his health. I believe that we should not begrudge an increase to the person who administers that portfolio. The same remark applies to the portfolios of Trade and External Affairs. The responsibilities that those who administer those portfolios have to accept entitle them to every penny of the increase that has been recommended.
Some of the newspapers have indicated that, upon their retirement, members of the Parliament are on princely terms. As has been mentioned already, members are contributing approximately 10 per cent, of their salary, to the superannuation fund, which is a much higher contribution than that which obtains in any form of industry. Such facts must be considered when these proposals are criticized. I am wondering, Mr. Deputy President, whether the Australian people think that our legislators have not been worth the money that they have received in the past, and whether they think Australian parliamentarians are inferior to those of other countries and therefore should be paid only half as much or a quarter as much as they are getting. When we consider Australian legislators of the past, we have very good reason to be proud of the calibre of the men who have been members of the Parliament both here in Canberra and in another city when the Parliament met there. We still have some very good mcn in the Parliament, and we will continue to get good men. I do not intend to mention names, but we have only to consider those who have already held office in the Commonwealth Parliament and those who are prospective office bearers to realize that the calibre of our legislators is equal to that of legislators in any other country.
In common with most male members of the Parliament, I need to have my hair cut, and it was only during the week before last that I entered a barber’s shop in Sydney for that purpose. It seemed to be what we call a one-man show; the barber was on his own when I went in. When I sat on the chair, he promptly started to talk about the Richardson report. He did not get much of a response from me, so his conversation ceased. When I left, I paid him 5s. for the privilege of having my hair cut. My mind went back, as doubtless do the minds of other honorable senators, to the time when a’ haircut cost in the vicinity of sixpence.
– That was in 1922.
– Yes. Let us consider the increase that has been granted to barbers over the years. The price of a haircut is now ten times as much as it used to be. On that basis, a parliamentarian’s salary, which was £600 at that time, should now be £6,000.
– lt was £1,000.
– lt was £1,000? To-day, we pay 5d. for a copy of a newspaper, but when a parliamentarian’s salary was £600 a year, the price of a daily newspaper was Id. If we multiply £600 by five, we get a sum of £3,000. But the basic salary recommended in the Richardson report is less than £3,000.
– What were the lawyers’ fees in 1922?
– I am not conversant with those. The press was quite unfair, at least in the early stages, when it said that Sir Percy Spender and Sir Eric Harrison would be eligible for the proposed pensions. Of course, we know they will not be eligible. That fact has been pointed out to the press, but the statement has never been corrected. I do not think it is fair for that sort of thing to continue.
There is one other matter on which I want to comment. I know that I shall be howled down by our critics, but I think that those who criticize us ought to have been here last week to appreciate the concern of members of both Houses of the Parliament over this legislation. They were both cor.cerned and worried. I felt that some of them were physically sick with worry through wondering what they should do in the dilemma with which they were faced. It was obvious that they wanted to do the best they could for their country. They also wanted to do the best they could for their party, and to be loyal to it, and they wanted to remain true to their conscience. Although my statement may be looked upon as a sob story by people outside the Parliament, I think that some of our critics should have been here in order to appreciate how much those matters meant to the members of this place who are responsible for making decisions on these bills.
I feel, Sir, that the increase of parliamentary salaries - and I expect to be laughed at by many of our critics when I say this - is going to be of great benefit eventually to this country, for the reason that we shall have a better type of legislator coming in.
That must benefit the country. In addition, those who are already here surely will be prepared to work even harder than they have in the past. Those who may not at present be putting all they could into their work may say to themselves, “ We are now getting a decent salary, and the least that we can do is to give worthwile service in return “. So, I feel that the country will benefit in that way.
The best way that we can look at this matter is first of all to ask ourselves: What is the best thing for our country? Then we have to decide and act in accordance with the dictates of our conscience, because after all, we cannot get away from our conscience. We have to live with it. That, I think, is the guiding line that should direct us in making our eventual decisions in this matter. If we follow that line we will not go very far astray. So far as I am concerned, I would have been quite happy to forgo the increases had, for instance, the members of the Opposition been prepared to reject the increases for back benchers. However, Sir, since it looks as though the increases will go through, I think that each of us must make up his mind to earn them. For that reason, I support the bill.
.- I rise to support the bill now before the Senate, subject to the minor amendment which has been moved by my leader. At the outset, I would like to make it perfectly clear, Mr. Deputy President, that I make no apologies for any statements which T intend to utter during my short speech on this bill. I am one who has not been stampeded by the press or any other pressure group. I never have been stampeded since I have been in the Senate, nor do I intend to be on this occasion, or any occasion in the future. In the first place, I want to say that some of the stampeding that has been done has been engineered, not only by the press, but, through the press, by some of those gentlemen outside the Parliament who would not take on the fight when they had the opportunity to do so. but are anxious to take it on. after somebody else has won it for them, by attempting to torpedo other people in regard to endorsement of their pre-selection. T should say that some of those gentlemen are among the principal people who are stirring up the strife from outside. 1 want to make it perfectly clear from the outset that I do not consider the proposed increases for ordinary members of the Parliament to be by any means too large. In fact, in my opinion, to equal the rate of increase of the basic wage since 1942, parliamentary salaries could, go up considerably more. If the increases are approved they will not equal the percentage increase of wages of the wage-earner, who is supposed, in some quarters, to be complaining about this matter. If we go back to 1922, we find that the wage-earner was then on a basic wage of about £3 a week, while a member of this Parliament received £1,000 a year. The wage of the man on the basic wage has increased by about 350 per cent, since then, compared with an increase of 175 per cent, for the member of Parliament after these increases become effective. Therefore, the member of Parliament has great cause to complain. I regard members of Parliament as workers. I came from the ranks of the workers and I am still working. Perhaps if I had not taken on a parliamentary career I might be a little healthier than I am to-day. Many of my mates who have not gone in for parliamentary careers are probably physically fitter than I am and may live longer than I will. Therefore, I claim that, as our parliamentary duties constitute a full-time job, for years many of us have been grossly underpaid.
Let me come back to deal with some of our critics. I shall do so without pulling punches. I want to say that I have served in many different capacities in the Australian Labour Party. I have served on the State executive, on the Federal executive, as acting president of the Tasmanian section, and in various other offices. Never once have T run away from a fight. Never once did I resign my office or run away when I thought that things were getting tough. The tougher they were, the more firmly T stuck to my post and the more I concentrated on the job in front of me. If I disagreed with mv colleagues and there was a scrap, I stuck to my post and fought for the opinion that 1 considered just and right - inside the party. At no time while I held those positions did I resign when something did not suit me, or when I did not get my own way. I never squibbed an issue. I never ratted on my mates or let them down through running out on the job. nor do I intend to do so on this occasion, because I claim that we have a completely good case. We can justify the majority decision of the Parliamentary Labour Party when we met last week. The Parlia mentary Labour Party made a decision, and I consider that it was a fair and a just one. lt was a decision from which we do not have to run away, or on which we have to turn our backs. I say that without any equivocation and without reservations. If there is any dispute over it, I claim that justice is on our side.
Let us consider some of those who have complained. I read in the press recently that one of my colleagues from Tasmania had said that he had protested right back in January, 1959, against any rise in parliamentary salaries. He did not then know what the rise was likely to be, but he protested and claimed that there should not be any rise at all. At that time, he was fighting hard to obtain further increases and better conditions for his union. The wages of its members had increased by 200 per cent, more than the 1922 rates for members of Parliament had increased. The same gentleman attended a conference in March, at which there were 180 delegates from all parts of his State. He stood for office on the federal executive and achieved that office. At that conference, he never once spoke a word in opposition to the Richardson committee which was inquiring into parliamentary salaries. He was elected to the executive, and again, he did not speak a word on that subject until he saw that the president of the Australian Labour Party had resigned. Then, being an endorsed Labour candidate, he thought he could ride on the backs of the pensioners, as others are trying to do, and make an issue of parliamentary salaries. All that I ask that gentleman to do is to look at the increased wages that the members of his own union have received since 1922 and compare the percentage increase with the percentage increase of federal parliamentary salaries since that time. I have no more to say on that, except that when I held a position similar to the one from which he has resigned I never squibbed an issue. I did not run out of office when thuCommunist Party Dissolution Bill and other major issues were being considered by the Labour Party. I shall now let that matter rest.
Turning to parliamentary allowances, apart from salary, 1 consider that senators were entitled to greater allowances than the Richardson committee recommended. I have covered my electorate, that is, the State of Tasmania, to the best of my ability on the salary and allowances 1 have received. I am one who has depended on his parliamentary salary. I have had no sidelines in which I could charge extortionate rates for appearances, or anything of that nature. 1 have never had a sideline such as a business or a farm. It is all very well for some members who have sidelines, and to whom the parliamentary allowance is as pin money compared with their income from other sources, to oppose the increases. I think, they are adopting a very selfish attitude towards this matter. 1 leave it at that. 1 now wish to advert to the principles that are at stake. The last general election is the only election from which I have emerged without being in debt. I am not a gambler, and I am not a drinker. 1 have expended all of my parliamentary allowance in endeavouring to do my job properly. I say here and now that if I had received an adequate allowance to defray expenses, I could have done a much better job than I did. Many other members of the Parliament, both in this chamber and in another place, could have done a better job if they had received an adequate expenses allowance. The inadequacy of the remuneration received by us has prevented us from doing our best in the interests of our country and our electors. If a senator uses a motor car in performing his duties to the electorate, his travelling expenses will absorb all of the allowance of £800 a year. If honorable senators will consider the amount paid for registration, insurance, and running a motor vehicle, they will see that a senator who uses a car in order to do his job properly, will expend the whole of the allowance of £800 a year. Where will he obtain money to defray other expenses? You can look at this matter in any way you like. On an average, a senator travels about 15,000 miles a year on electorate business. The depreciation on his vehicle is high. He will have to pay his other expenses out of his salary of £2,750, when the increase becomes effective. Good heavens, hotels where we used to get a bed and breakfast for 8s. a night now charge £2 10s. or £3! It is ludicrous for any one to say that an increase in the electorate allowance is not justified and that members of Parliament should be the last to receive an increase of salary. I know what some people think about the matter, but it should not be approached on that basis. Senator McKellar asked why members of Parliament should be left until last. I also would like to be informed why they should be left till last. I have received very few letters in connexion with this matter, including only two from A.L.P branches and two from trade unions. I have spoken to hundreds of people about the proposed increases and they have told me that I would be just a bally fool if I did not accept them. As an indication of what some people are thinking about the matter, I shall read to the Senate a resolution that was passed by the Tasmanian Chamber of Manufactures. It is as follows: -
The Northern Council of the Tasmanian Chamber of Manufactures views with concern the proposal to adopt the recommendations of the Richardson committee on parliamentary salaries and allowances, and feels that the adoption of these recommendations will lead to widespread demands for increased wages and salaries.
That body is not concerned whether we are justly treated or not. Its only concern is whether the employees in various industries will seek an increase in wages. The fact should not be forgotten that the wages of those employees are pro rata to-day 100 per cent, up on increases that members of Parliament have received over a comparable period. The pressure is coming from this and similar organizations.
It has been stated somewhat critically that the retiring allowances of members of the Parliament should not be increased until age and other pensions have been increased. Let me say this to the Senate and to the pensioners: If only 75 per cent, of the pensioners who are to-day clamouring for increased pensions and 75 per cent, of the industrial workers and their families had voted for Labour at the last general election, pensions would by now have been increased. It will be recalled that Labour stated in its policy speech quite definitely the amount of increases that would be granted if it were returned to office. As the pensioners and the industrial workers showed conclusively by the votes they cast that they did not want the Labour Party in office, they said, in effect, that they did not want increases in pensions. The Labour Party, when in office, has never repudiated a pledge that it has given at election time, and we would not have let the pensioners down on our pledge concerning pensions during the last general election campaign. I challenge the Government to name one instance in which we have let down those people. Therefore, it is clear that those who are using this argument are trying to climb on to the backs of the pensioners. In this connexion, I endorse what Senator Marriott has said. It is evident that some of those who are criticizing the increases of parliamentary salaries and allowances supported the Liberal Party at the last election to ensure that Labour was not returned to office,- if it had been returned, the pensioners would have got increases. Of course, the Liberal Party made no promise to the pensioners. I must give that party its due there. But there was a third party. By backing the Liberal Party the third party indicated that it did not advocate increased pensions. Therefore, I say to those who contend that parliamentary salaries and allowances should not be increased until the pensioners have got their just rights, that if they had evinced similar sympathy towards the pensioners during the last election, by now the pensioners would have received their increases.
I come now to a feature of this legislation that the Government may have overlooked; that is, that some of our colleagues have contributed to the contributory pension fund. If you will permit me, Mr. Deputy President, to make a brief reference to this matter, I shall not speak on the remaining measure, the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Bill, unless I am provoked to do so. If I had spoken in the debate on the Ministers of State Bill, I would not have entered the present debate. However, I did not do so out of sympathy for many of my colleagues who were suffering from influenza, and had I spoken I would have been a party to detaining the Senate until a much later hour on Thursday night last. Therefore, knowing that I would have the opportunity to speak on this occasion, I did not speak during the debate on the other legislation, but I shall use the arguments now that I would have used had I spoken previously.
I shall deal first with the Government’s failure to consider the pensions of members of the Parliament who were defeated at the last election. Many of them paid £4 10s. a week into the pension fund for many years and thus assisted to build up the reservoir of funds that is available to be drawn upon. According to the provisions of the legislation now before us, members of the House of Representatives who were defeated at the last election and those who left the Parliament as a result of previous elections will not participate in the proposed increase in pensions. They will continue to receive a pension of £12 a week, whereas our colleagues who will be leaving the Senate at the end of June next will receive a pension of £18 a week. The Government should amend the legislation so as to permit the ex-members to whom I have referred to receive the increased pension. Further, such increased pension should be made retrospective to the date on which the ex-members commenced drawing on the pension fund.
What will be the position if we accede to the demands of our critics and reject this legislation? We will deprive the five good, honest gentlemen who will retire at the end of June next of £6 a week for life. As I have said, they contributed to the fund for many years at the rate of £4 10s. a week. Again, if we acceded to the demands of our critics, we would be depriving ourselves of the increased pension entitlement. After all, the money in the parliamentary retiring allowances fund has not been provided by the general public. We, and we alone, have contributed it. In my view, the amount of pension should have been increased long ago. The fund is strong enough to meet the increased demands now proposed to be made upon it. Does any one think for one moment that we are so callous as to rob our mates of their just dues? They have given their party, and their country, years of loyal service. Should we submit to the pressure groups outside Parliament, such as the press, and rob our mates of their just dues?
– To whom is the honorable senator referring?
– 1 have in mind in particular one of my colleagues who sits beside me.
– He is not being deprived of anything.
– He will be if this legislation is defeated.
– He will not.
– II this legislation is defeated he will be deprived of something to which he is entitled. Let honorable senators make no mistake - the pressure groups outside Parliament want to see this legislation defeated. We, the loyal members of the Australian Labour Party, have carried out the instructions of our leaders and, because we were unable to make the Government accept our amendments we laid ourselves open to criticism by the pressure groups outside the Parliament. The retired members of Parliament, as well as the officers of the Parliament, are entitled to extra remuneration. Many people outside Parliament, especially those union leaders who have seen fit to resign and run away from their jobs when they have been confronted with a tough problem, have asked why parliamentary salaries and allowances should be increased. Do those union leaders expect the workers whom they represent to work, six, eight or ten hours’ overtime for nothing? Of course they do not! Whenever overtime is worked the union leaders demand time and a quarter, time and a half, or double time, and even treble time for time worked on Sundays and holidays.
Ministers in this Parliament are entitled to an increase in salary. If honorable senators will consider the number of additional hours worked not only by Ministers but also by the Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the Whips in both chambers, and add the value of that overtime to the salary received by an ordinary rank and file member of the Parliament, they will see that the proposed increase will leave those officers still below what they would receive if union award rates were applied to the overtime that they work. If it is fair and just for workers in industry to receive extra remuneration for extra services rendered, why is it not equally fair and just for Ministers and officers of the Parliament to be treated on the same basis? Do the pressure groups outside the Parliament consider that their employees should be paid according to time worked but that members of Parliament should not be remunerated on the same basis? If our critics study the matter closely and look into principles and details, they will see how unsound is the foundation on which they have based their criticism.
During the debate on this legislation some honorable senators have voiced opposition to the proposed increases because they said that they wanted to see equality. What have they meant by that? Do they consider that Ministers and the officers to whom I have referred should receive only the same remuneration as the ordinary members of Parliament? Do those honorable senators who have spoken of equality consider that the extra duties and responsibilities of Ministers and the other officers do not warrant extra remuneration? According to their speeches, that is what they do mean. Surely they must realize that extra responsibilities and extra duties warrant extra pay. I make no apology for the decision of the Australian Labour Party, which I endorse, that the persons to whom I have referred are entitled to extra remuneration.
Another campaign is being waged by the the pressure groups outside the Parliament demanding that the federal executive of the Australian Labour Party should be called together and that it should instruct members of the party not to accept the increased salary if the legislation becomes law. Have honorable senators ever heard anything more stupid or ridiculous? Does anybody think that the Australian Labour Party a party which has always turned its back on rackets or scandals - would issue such an instruction to its members after an increase in salary has been granted, whether by act of Parliament or by the Arbitration Court? Does anybody think that the Australian Labour Party would instruct its parliamentarians to rat on the decisions of their leaders? T do not wish to attack Th press - the leaders of both parties have done that adequately. According to the press - whether statements have been correctly reported or not, I do not know - such a campaign is now being waged by the pressure groups outside the parliament. That is exactly what it was claiming. I have worked in coal mines. I recall that a man named Moore worked for less than the award rate which we were slaving for. When we went back to work we found, posted all round the mine, the words, “ Scabby Moore “, “ Scabby Moore “! He was branded a scab and blackballed throughout Australia. And these stupid people outside have the audacity to say that a responsible body of men, specially chosen by the Australian Labour Party to hold executive positions in the governing body of the party, would rat on a principle for which they have fought all their lives! I mention that to point out the stupidity of some of this pressure propaganda we see in the press at the present time. It is too stupid for words. It is too stupid for any sensible member of the Australian Labour Party regardless or what his walk of life may be, or even for any member of the Liberal Party to take any notice of whatsoever.
– But it is what the Victorian executive of the Australian Labour Party did.
– Only according to press reports. I have had nothing official from the executive of the Australian Labour Party, and until such time as I get something official from that body, no one will make me believe that the executive of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labour Party, or the executive of any other State branch of the party, ever sent such a recommendation to the federal executive.
If any members of the federal executive had been so concerned about this particular issue, they had it completely in their own hands to do what we did when I was a member of the federal executive of the Australian Labour Party at the time when the legislation was going through for the dissolution of the Communist Party. Those members could call a meeting of the federal executive, invite those with different opinions to state them, and arrive at a decision. If they wanted to make a decision, they could have done so in that way. But until such time as something like that is done by the federal executive, the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party guides side in following that principle, I shall be its own destiny, and if we fall by the wayone of those who fall.
– You have six years to go yet; you are right.
– That is perfectly true, and if I am any judge of what is taking place at the present time in the political sphere of the Australian Labour Party, I will be here for another six years on top of that.
– If your health is as it was when you spoke about it earlier, you will not live that long.
– I have been through these crises before, and I have seen opportunists come into this Parliament on both sides. I have seen them come in on this side in particular. They had signed a pledge and were tied to a platform-
– And to a ticket.
– You signed a ticket once.
– I know. Those opportunists had signed a pledge, but when they were elected to the Senate and had six years of office in front of them, they ratted on that pledge and ran away from it. At the same time, I had been No. 4 on a ticket and, to the surprise of those who tried to toss me, T am still here. I did not have to rat on the pledge I signed, I did not have to rat on any parliamentary Labour principle, and I did not have to rat on any ticket to get here; the general public put me here.
Therefore, in spite of any opposition there might be to them, we intend, through our leader, Senator McKenna, to move certain amendments. We will do our utmost to have those amendments passed. If I thought I could wear the numbers down on the Government side by getting Senator Toohey, who has had a bad attack of virus influenza, to sit on the Government side in the midst of Government senators, I would talk all night in committee to have the amendments passed. But if we cannot get the amendments through, we will not flout the principles on which the Australian Labour Party was founded. If we do not carry the amendments, we shall have no alternative but to support increases in both salaries and pensions because we have no intention of doing our mates out of £6 a week for life.
.- J greatly regret that it was not possible for me to be in attendance in the Senate last week when the Ministers of State Bill was discussed and voted upon. When I returned to Brisbane from Canberra during the week-end before last, 1 developed a severe attack of bronchial influenza and, on the orders of a Brisbane doctor - Dr. Hishon - 1 was forced to take to my bed for the whole of the week. I think it is the first time since 1 was elected to the Senate that 1 have missed any time in the chamber, either through illness or for any other cause, and I was rather upset to miss the turbulence and excitement of last week because I relish that kind of political atmosphere.
When the Richardson committee was sitting in Canberra, I went before it at the request of the Leader of the Australian Country Party, Mr. John McEwen. I informed the committee that I, personally, was satisfied with the amount of parliamentary salary I was receiving and I did not seek an increase of it; but I strongly advocated a substantial increase in the amount of travelling allowance paid to senators and also to members who represent very large electorates, particularly in Queensland. Of course, that statement goes, too, for Western Australian and South Australian representatives, the Northern Territory representative, and any senator or member who has to cover a great area.
– It would not include Tasmania, would it?
– I think it would exclude Tasmania. I instanced to the committee the case of Mr. Brimblecombe who is the Country Party member for Maranoa in the House of Representatives. He has an enormous electorate to traverse. At various times over the past few years, I have travelled through the western part of Queensland in the Maranoa electorate in company with Mr. Brimblecombe on political tours.
– And that is still only portion of the State.
– As Senator Wood says, it is still only portion of the vast area which makes up the State of Queensland. On those travels, I had the opportunity to make some appreciation of the high cost of travelling in that part of the country. Except for a few miles of good bitumen road on the eastern end of the Maranoa electorate, the roads are of gravel formation or just plain bush roads, very rough and rugged. In wet weather, a member in his motor car is liable to get bogged and to rip the inside out of his engine as he tries to extricate the vehicle from the grip of the mud. As a result, the wear and tear on a member’s car is considerable. On the last occasion upon which I went out with the honorable member for Maranoa he had, during the journey, two blowouts. The tyres and tubes were beyond repair. He had to find the cost immediately of two new tyres. Moreover, the vibration on bad roads affected the chassis and engine of the car. At almost every town where we stopped overnight he had to have repairs effected to his vehicle. Naturally, the life of a car under such conditions, is no more than two years or two-and-a-half years. A member must then turn his car in for a limited sum, and purchase a new one. This all helps to build up the cost of representing a big country electorate in this Parliament. Therefore, I felt justified in putting to the Richardson committee a request for increased travelling allowance for members representing these big country areas, so that they might meet the heavy cost of motoring under such conditions.
I also argued before the committee that senators, who had the whole of a State to cover, were also entitled to an increased travelling allowance. I had in mind especially the conditions in Queensland these days. The cost might be less in the more southerly latitudes, where population is greater and facilities for accommodation are easier and cheaper to find. In Queensland I do not think that any honorable senator or member can get around the country and maintain the prestige of his position much under five guineas a day, as compared with something like two guineas a day in 1949.
While I was satisfied with the Parliamentary salary in my own case, I was not unaware of the pressing need of other honorable senators and members. However, I thought it fair enough that they should state their own case so that the committee could assess on the evidence what was a fair and proper increase. In due course the committee made its report. The report favoured an increase of £400 per annum in the salaries of senators and members, and substantially higher amounts tor Ministers of the Crown. Limited increases were recommended in travelling allowances. The committee made the recommendations after weighing up the evidence submitted to it. There cannot be much argument against that. In my experience, whenever there has been a rise in parliamentary salaries there have been protests from some sections of the public. I look back now over 30 years of continuous political life, both in the State Parliament of Queensland and in this Senate. During that time I have seen some ups and downs, but at all times over the years increases in parliamentarians’ salaries have attracted protests from some sections of the public. On this occasion, however, there has been a more intense and more bitter resentment on the part of great numbers of the people - far more than I have known on any previous occasion.
I do not think that the public outcry would have been so great if it had not been for certain recommendations which seem to me to have greatly stretched the terms of reference. I do not think that any backbencher of the Senate or the House of Representatives had any idea that the committee intended to recommend the granting of non-contributory pensions to former Ministers - no longer in the Parliament - and to certain present Ministers and other members who would qualify upon retirement. Nor did members have any idea that the recommendations in that regard would be on such a liberal scale, or that the Richardson committee would go so far as to recommend free motor cars - though, admittedly, these were to be for a limited number - for former Prime Ministers and former leaders of the Opposition, and their deputies. They are only a handful, I agree, but it was a very provocative recommendation. The idea that a Commonwealth cai should be provided free to a former Prime Minister, or Leader of the Opposition, was not appreciated by the public at large. The public took the view that most ex-members of the Parliament, having held such important positions, would have cars of their own, or could pay for taxis; they would thus have no need to fall back on Com monwealth cars. That was something which helped to create feeling against thz salary increases.
The nature of the recommendations - quite apart from the question of increased salaries and allowances for Ministers and private members - came as a shock to most of us. I have in my office a copy of the Brisbane “ Telegraph “ of Wednesday, 25th March. It featured in banner headlines the words, “ £3,000 per annum pension to Viscount Bruce “. It also featured, in big headlines, the words “ Spender gains major benefit “. The newspaper slant suggests that Sir Percy Spender was to receive some major benefit - inferentially, at the cost of the Treasury. In point of fact, he would not have received any more than his contributory pension, for which he was entitled by virtue of contribution. He was not a member of the Ministry long enough to qualify for the recommended noncontributory pension.
– Did the newspaper correct that?
– 1 have no record of the Brisbane “ Telegraph “ correcting that statement. A certain slant was put on the proposal and, of course, the names of former Ministers of this Government, and former Ministers of the party at present in Opposition, were set out, showing the amounts that they would be entitled to, on a non-contributory basis. I should like to make my position in respect of the press quite clear. As long as the facts are stated I have no quarrel with the newspapers. They are the guardians of the public interest and enjoy the right of honest criticism, but many daily newspapers during the last few weeks went far beyond fair criticism, and to that extent they were blameable, in our free democracy, for fanning up feelings through slants and twists and distortions which the facts of the case did not justify. The great storm of public hostility undoubtedly arose from the stunning impact on the public mind of the Richardson committee’s recommendations for a kind of free-for-all - noncontributory pensions, free motor cars after retirement, free air travel in certain circumstances, and the like. The rich prize of £3,000 a year pension for Viscount Bruce was like a red rag to a bull. It excited and inflamed the public mind, with the result that the real reason for the existence of the Richardson committee - namely to go into the matter of whether Ministers and senators and members were entitled to increases in salaries, allowances and pensions - the bread and butter matters - were forgotten in the great flurry of public opposition which arose over the other recommendations to which I have referred. I had the privilege of meeting Viscount Bruce when, as Mr. Stanley Melbourne Bruce, the then Prime Minister, he came to Brisbane in about 1929. He was undoubtedly a great and distinguished man, but we have to remember that he was defeated for the Prime Ministership in 1929 - 30 years ago. We have to face the hard facts in politics. Although Viscount Bruce was known well and favorably to men of my vintage, the great majority of people who have voting rights in this country to-day do not know him, and the bulk of them have never heard of him. In those circumstances, the suggestion that a pension of £3,000 a year should be paid to Viscount Bruce has had a dreadfully bad effect.
It is not a matter of what the Richardson committee thinks when making a recommendation of this kind, nor is it a matter of what Cabinet thinks. It is a matter of what the general public thinks - the people whose suffrages and support we seek and to whom we have to justify our political existence. We can do that only on the basis of our wisdom, our decisions and the manner in which we are able to run the economy of the country.
The things I have mentioned have caused a lot of trouble. Our troubles arose, not over the recommendation of the committee that increased salaries should be paid to Ministers and members who serve in the Parliament, but owing to the benevolence accorded to Ministers, leaders of the Opposition and their deputies now in the Parliament, but who on retirement would qualify, and to former members and Ministers who are no longer members of the Parliament, but who would qualify for these privileges. Those are the things which have excited the public mind.
When I saw what was proposed by the committee published in the Brisbane newspapers of 25th March - that is before Easter -I directed an urgent letter to Mr.
John McEwen, the Leader of the Parliamentary Country Party. The letter is dated 26th March. This is what I said -
Re Richardson Report.
My Dear Minister,
I am writing early in the piece to say that I strongly oppose the Richardson Committee recommendations for: -
Special pensions outside the contributory scheme for ex Ministers, and ex leaders of the Opposition. There should be no pensions outside the contributory one with the possible exception of the Prime Minister.
I used the qualifying words “possible exception “, because I rather lean towards a substantial annual parliamentary grant being made to the Prime Minister upon retirement by the Parliament, rather than to what we might call a pension. My letter continues -
I say that because I think it is open to grave abuse. A limitation is imposed on free rail travel and the use of the gold pass. The cost is known in advance, but we would be buying a pig in a poke to grant the right of free air travel to former Ministers and Leaders of the Opposition without applying any limitation to their use of such transport. My letter continued -
The case for reasonable increases to both Ministers and members who continue to represent the people in the Parliament, has been gravely prejudiced by extravagant provisions made for ex Ministers and ex Leaders of the Opposition no longer in the Parliament.
The Richardson report has provoked widespread and intense resentment throughout Queensland. Unless these unjustifiable recommendations which I have enumerated are deleted, I will vote against the bills in toto as my personal protest.
With kind regards and best wishes for a happy Easter.
I do not know how the honorable Minister for Trade felt about that. However, through the good sense of the Government, the non-contributory scheme of pensions has been dropped. Likewise the use of
Commonwealth cars for a period of three years has been abandoned. The vote of £3,000 to Viscount Bruce, which I shall vote against in the committee stages on another bill, still remains.
The decks are now clear and I am able to give my full support to the Government on increased salaries, travelling allowances and contributory pensions to Ministers, senators and members. I have always believed, Mr. Deputy President, in paying the men who are doing the job in any field of industry, salaries and wages commensurate with their experience, knowledge, energy and intellectuality. Our present Prime Minister and his senior Ministers - 1 am not reflecting on junior Ministers by any means - are men of the highest calibre, f should like to include in that group one of the greatest of them, who has just retired from office, namely, Sir Arthur Fadden. He will not qualify for the increases of salary and allowances proposed in this bill, but he belongs to the category of distinguished Ministers who have built up the Australian economy over the last ten years to its present high prosperity level.
I say strongly, and for all Australia to hear, that there should be no cheese-paring in the matter of salaries and allowances to the Prime Minister, Ministers of State and the Leaders of the Opposition, who have to carry the great burden of opposing the Government under our democratic system of parliamentary government. There should be no cheese-paring whatsoever in that respect. I stand for the highest possible salaries and allowances being paid to those men because of their great ability and the contribution they are making to the people of Australia. The same principle applies to senators and the rank and file members of the House of Representatives. There is no comparison, in my judgment, between a man receiving £2,750 per annum in the Public Service, or an outside trade or industry, and a member of Parliament receiving a similar salary. The public servant or businessman has nothing like the call on his pocket, which is a feature of every parliamentary member’s political life. The parliamentary member is always on the go, travelling hither and thither, and is always meeting the public. He has his hand in his pocket constantly. I stand very forthright in my support of the main principles contained in this bill.
A factor to which I have seen no reference in the press is that relating to taxation. It should always be remembered that the hand which gives also takes away, where parliamentary salaries are concerned.
– That is the same with any income.
– Yes, but still I think it ought to be emphasized that in many respects this is a sort of robbing Peter to pay Paul.
– Does not that show the folly of increasing costs without reducing taxation?
– I do not see how that argument is relevant to the increase of parliamentary salaries, because in the present case there is nothing manufactured. Costs of manufacture are not increased by the raising of parliamentary salaries, so the proposed increases are not in the same category as those given to the manager of a big manufacturing concern where every cost has to be added to what the consumer pays.
I come back to my point that the hand which gives will, in this case, take away. To bring it back further, the proposed payment will be like robbing Peter to pay Paul; it will be a kind of cross-entry. The Commonwealth will debit £2,750 a year and will credit so much back to the Treasury by way of taxes. I am not a taxation specialist - Senator Laught would have a better appreciation of this situation - but, to hazard a rough guess, I would say that something of the order of 40 per cent, of the pay increases involved in this legislation will return to the Treasury in the form of taxation.
Another fact that ought to be considered by honorable senators and the general public is that in 1939 members of the Commonwealth Parliament received £1,000 per annum. I think it will be conceded generally that it takes at least £3 10s. in 1959 currency to buy what £1 would purchase in the currency of 1939. That being so, a member of the Federal Parliament today needs £3,500 per annum of the 1959 currency to have the purchasing power of £1,000 in 1939. Another yardstick is the basic wage, which has been fixed in Queensland this week at £13 3s. a week. The commonwealth basic wage in 1939 was £3 19s. a week. So the basic wage to-day compared with the basic wage of 1939 is in much the same ratio of 3i:l. In recent year, there have been very few wageearners who have nominally been classified as being basic wage earners and who have in fact been reduced to that wage. Generally speaking, throughout industry a good worker who is nominally a basic wage earner is paid considerably more than’ the amount which the court awards as a basic wage.
Just recently, I was looking up some of my old acounts and I found a 1939 account for £15, which I am glad to be able to assure honorable senators was receipted, from my tailor for a suit of clothes. Now, when I approach my tailor, he asks for anything from £40 to £50 for a suit of clothes. He does not get the £50, but I generally pay about £40 for a suit. I have been long enough in parliamentary life to experience all the ups and downs of parliamentary salaries. I can recall voting, as a member of the Queensland Parliament, during the depression years in favour of a cut in the parliamentary salary. At that time the salary was of the order of £750 per annum, but it was reduced to £500 per annum. And there was no absenteeism; every member was there to record his vote. That happened on a Friday, and the incident went down in Queensland political history as Black Friday.
– That is right.
– Senator Courtice remembers it well. As a tailpiece and lor good measure, I inform the Senate that the Australian Workers Union has a claim before the Queensland Industrial Court for a weekly wage for shearers’ cooks of £53 10s. 4d. plus keep. That would work out at £2,750 per annum if the shearers’ cook was continuously engaged. I do not wish to reflect on the work of the shearers’ cook or on his entitlements, but I think that senators and members of the House of Representatives ought to be worth at least the amount that is now being sought before the Queensland Industrial Court for a shearers’ cooks.
I wish to refer briefly to what I regard as being a sinister recommendation by the executive of the Victorian branch of the
Australian Labour Party, as reported in this morning’s Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “. It is as follows -
The Victorian A.L.P. State Executive last week recommended that the Federal Executive order Federal Labor M.P.s to give their rises to the A.L.P. machine.
– That is incorrect.
– For the good name of the Parliament and members who would be exposed to such an order, I hope it is incorrect. At any rate, it is recorded, and until there is some denial of the report I must accept it. It would be a gross contempt of the Parliament if such banditry was attempted by the executive of the Victorian branch of the A.L.P. I hope some Victorian members of the A.L.P. who are members of the Senate will have the courage and the resolution to stand up to the bandits. They are not one-armed bandits; they are two-armed bandits who want to stage a hold-up and relieve Labour members of the Senate of whatever sum the Parliament grants to them by way of salary increase.
– What was the resolution? We would like to hear it.
– This was the recommendation -
The Victorian A.L.P. State Executive last week recommended that the Federal Executive order Federal Labor M.P.s to give their rises to the A.L.P. machine.
That is a pretty grim choice.
I believe that the labourer is worthy of his hire. I support the recommendations for the increase of pensions and allowances as contained in the Richardson report and now incorporated in the measures before the Senate.
.- Mr. President, the Australian Democratic Labour Party is opposed to any increases of parliamentary salaries or pensions as recommended in the Richardson report unless and until a similar tribunal has recommended justice for pensioners, people on social service benefits, and other underprivileged sections of the community. For that reason, I shall vote against the legislation now before the Senate and against any amendments which envisage increases in parliamentary salaries or pensions, even though those amendments may suggest some whittling down of the amounts or even though, as in the case of Senator Marriott’s amendment, they suggest a postponement of the payment of the amounts concerned.
I regret that our hopes of being able to defeat this legislation in the Senate have been dashed to the ground. We have been able to induce only two Daniels to come to judgment from the ranks of the Government, and there appears to be a grave -shortage of reluctant dragons in the ranks of the Opposition. I am disappointed that that is so.
I read in the Victorian press some weeks ago what I regarded as a clarion call by Labour to oppose these bills. It appeared in the press, but it was an official hand out, under the title “ Labour Speaks “, which appears in the “ Herald “ every Saturday night. I know the column well. For several years I wrote it. I read it to-day, although I deplore the decline in its literary quality. In this column I read the following: -
The Richardson Report is a perfect example of the Liberal philosophy of spoils to the victor. Proceeding on the basis that might is right, the Liberal majority used its numbers to appoint a committee to fix salaries and other perquisites.
The passage concluded -
Labour members of the Parliament, it is true, will benefit by the increases, but this will only be possible because of the weight of Liberal numbers that will guarantee that Parliament adopts this report.
If that means anything, it is a call to arms. It is a statement by official Labour in Victoria that these increases are being brutally imposed on the Labour Party by force of numbers. I expected that, in accordance with the traditions of Labour, that call to arms would find every supporter of the Labour Party at the barricades. I regret to say that my hopes have been disappointed. I thought that when we manned the barricades on this issue we would have every representative of the toiling masses on my right alongside us, wheel chairs and all, but unfortunately, we have been disappointed. We find to-day that these measures, which we were told were being brutally forced on Labour, are being accepted by Labour, and we shall find that when the vote is taken the representatives of the toilers will be in there on the side of the Liberal Government.
I attach no blame at all to Sir Frank Richardson and his colleagues on the Committee. I think that it would be entirely wrong to blame them or to offer any criticism of their actions. If there is any blame, the only people to whom it should be attached are the members of this Parliament. Sir Frank Richardson and his two assistants consented, at the request of responsible officers of the Government, to make their services available. I have no doubt that their recommendations represent what they saw fit. I have no desire to criticize them. I believe that they are above blame.
I point out, however, in regard to the manner in which this committee came into existence, that there was a foreshadowing of its appointment some years ago when Mr. Harold Holt suggested that some members of the Government had in mind that it might be a good idea to examine the salaries of members of Parliament once in the life of each Parliament. But he said nothing definite on that issue. Following that, a statement appeared in the press in January this year which stated that a committee was to be appointed. It also stated that the Government had paid the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition the compliment of informing them that that was to be done. I understand that, later, the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition reported to the caucus of their party and that they were authorized to go ahead and make arrangements for representations for increases to be placed before the committee. As the Democratic Labour Party is a party recognized in this Parliament, it would have been appreciated, as an act of courtesy, if the Leader of our party also had been notified by the Government beforehand of what it was intended to do. On occasions, we are placed in the unfortunate position of hearing of matters, such as the appointment by the Government of committees, both official and unofficial, at secondhand. I express the hope that in the case of future decisions of this nature all the parties recognized by the Parliament will receive equal recognition and notification.
There are some who will say that we are a small party from the point of view of representation. They will say that we have only two members in this Parliament. But I point out that that is not our fault. It is the fault of the system of representation. Wc ure able to poll just under 10 per cent, of the total votes recorded in this country. If we had represenation in the lower House in accordance with that vote we would have eleven or twelve members there, and in this chamber we would have five or six members. In those circumstances 1 suggest that the more democratic way would be to recognize our party from the point of view of the vote that is polled and not from the point of view of the small number of representatives that it may have because, as I have said before, that is the fault of the system, not of the party.
Shortly after the announcement was made that this committee was to be appointed, the federal executive of the Democratic Labour Party met in Sydney, lt made a decision that, in its view, it was wrong that a committee such as this should recommend increases of parliamentary salaries and pensions unless and until a similar independent tribunal had recommended equal justice for pensioners and others. That view was later supported by the Victorian executive of the D.L.P. and also by the country conference of the party. 1 point out, however, that those decisions were made in the form of requests for the consideration of Senator Cole and myself. We were told by the president in each case that there was no direction; it was an expression of the opinion of the bodies concerned. Senator Cole and 1 discussed the matter and agreed that we would follow the decision that had been arrived at by the bodies to which I have referred. We did so for a number of reasons. We could see no reason why, if an independent tribunal could determine the rates to be paid to public servants, teachers, workers and members of Parliament, such a tribunal should not determine the rates to be paid to pensioners and others in receipt of social service benefits.
As honorable senators will recollect, on three occassions we have endeavoured to influence the Senate in that direction, and on three occassions we have failed because we have met with the opposition of the three major parties. We have heard on three occasions, when even slight increases have been given to pensioners, majority decisions that those increases should not be made retrospective. We regard it as a fault in the bill before the Senate that it should provide, in respect of increases of the salaries of members of Parliament, that they shall be made retrospective for a period of two months. Our feeling is that Parliament is supposed to give a lead and that one of the principles of leadership is never to ask other people to do what you are not prepared to do yourself. We feel that when the Government, or the Parliament, refuses, to give increases to pensioners in accordance with justice and makes increases only in accordance with an examination of Treasury figures, in effect at such a time the Parliament is saying to the pensioners, “ You must tighten your belts “. If that is good enough for the pensioners we ought to be able to accept it for ourselves.
I do not question for one moment that there is a good case for giving increased remuneration to many members of this Parliament, particularly those with no other means of support. Some members have said to me that since they came into this Parliament they have had an overdraft for the first time in their lives, and I know that 1 have made very little since I have been in the Senate. But however badly off those members are, they are not as badly off as many other people in the community who are endeavouring to exist to-day on age pensions.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting, 1 stated that a case could be made out for increased salaries, particularly for rank-and-file members who had no source of income other than their parliamentary allowances. But I stated, also that justice for them could not be separated from justice for other deserving members of the community, in particular the pensioners and those in receipt of social services. I agree that there are other arguments that can be put forward for theseincreases, in particular the argument that it is necessary to pay a parliamentarian a salary which will make him reasonably immune from corrupt approaches from people who desire favours to be done for themselves. I agree that we must ensure that we have honest politicians. I use the term “ honest politicians “ in the best sense, and not in the sense in which it waa used, by the American statesman John Spencer Calhoun, who once defined an honest politician as -
One who, when he is bought stays bought. 1 believe, however, that despite these arguments we should say “ No “ to the proposals for increased parliamentary pensions and salaries until other deserving sections ot the community - the two sections I have enumerated - are treated equally as well. I believe that our attitude has general public support and I refer, without quoting, to statements that have been made by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, by trades hall councils in a number of States, trade unions, churchmen and church organizations, and branches of more political parties than those that are represented here on the Opposition side. I believe that they are impressed by the need of these sections of the community, and they are impressed also by statements that have been made from time to time by political leaders on the state of the economy. I recall that only a few weeks ago the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Dr. Evatt) and the Deputy Leader (Mr. Calwell) made the most gloomy forecast as to the economic future of this country. I have in my hand a statement by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, in which he suggests that unless drastic action is taken economic disaster will overtake us. He said -
We are headed for the kind of situation that developed at the end of 1929, when all governments in this country. State and Federal, had over-borrowed, so that the market collapsed, and. as a consequence, 30 per cent, of the Australian people were, for a long time, unable to sell their labour.
– You knew that that was propaganda.
– The statement was made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and was supported to some extent by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives. If they feel that an economic blizzard is about to break upon this country, how can they suggest that at this point of time it is desirable that the salaries of members generally, and particularly their own salaries, should be increased? They made that statement as to the economic situation of this country at a time when I would have expected that, if they had been politically minded, they would have adopted another line. Their party is the political representative, they say, of the trade union movement in this country. In the week in which they made those statements, the trade unions approached the arbitration court seeking an increased basic wage. The only effect of the statements that were made by those two honorable members could have been to impress on the learned judges hearing the case that instead of an increased wage being desirable something ought to be done to reduce wages. Apparently the two gentlemen concerned felt it was their duty, in spite of the fact that the trade union movement was adopting another line, and retaining economic experts at considerable cost to put it before the court that the condition of the country was good, to say the opposite. If that is the case, it is all the more reason why they should have adopted a different attitude in their consideration of this matter of increased salaries.
As we have taken our stand on a question of principle, contending that there must be justice for pensioners and those in receipt of social services, I do not propose to canvass individual cases referred to in the recommendations. It would be easy to point to the remarkable discrepancy that was shown when those who compiled the Richardson report suggested that a Federal Minister could be adequately compensated for being away from his home on official duties only if he were paid £12 a day. The Martin committee in Victoria pointed out that the Premier of Victoria would be adequately compensated if he received £6 6s. a day. I suppose I could refer to the fact that in future one of the leaders of the Opposition party will receive, when he is away from home, £12 a day, and another £10 a day, while Senator Cole, who is the leader of a party existing in five States, will be expected in the future, as in the past, to pay all his own expenses other than travelling expenses, which every member gets. But I do not propose to consider those matters because we take our stand upon the one principle of justice and fair play.
I come now to the press. I do not agree that the whole of the opposition, or the greater part of the opposition to these proposals has been manufactured by the press. 1 think there is a tendency to overemphasize the power of the press. If the press were as powerful as some people believe, Mr. Cahill would not be Premier of New South Wales to-day. I do not think we should over-emphasize the power that the press has in this country, and I point out that the press could hardly have influenced the Australian Council of Trade Unions, certain State branches of the Australian Labour Party, and trades hall councils which, notoriously, are antagonistic to the press and inclined to suspect campaigns put forward by the press in this country. It is true that the press has made grievous errors in its handling of this particular issue. I saw, if I may quote my own case, a statement that increases in pensions were largely due to the magnificent case that I placed before the Richardson committee. I never appeared before the Richardson committee. I saw a statement in a Melbourne newspaper that Senator Cole was to receive a special allowance of £1,000 a year. The same day, in the afternoon paper, a whole paragraph of the leading article was devoted to attacking the decision of the committee to give Senator Cole £1,000 a year. Of course, the truth is that Senator Cole was not receiving one penny more than the ordinary members in the Parliament. I saw another statement in a Sydney paper to the effect that the Australian Labour Party caucus had made a decision to protest strongly at the £500 special allowance to be given to Senator Cole. I understand caucus made no such decision, for the very good reason that Senator Cole is not to receive any special allowance - not one penny apart from the emoluments that every member received. Some of those statements, I am glad to say, were contradicted by the press when we brought them to notice; others have not been. Generally, I and, I think, all members of the party to which I belong do not take press attacks too seriously. Our philosophy in regard to the press is that we would prefer newspapers to praise us, but if they are not prepared to praise us we hope they will attack us. The worst thing they can do is never to mention us. We are not to be intimidated by them. I know a long series of prominent personages who have attempted intimidation in my particular case - one of them is a prominent member of this Parliament - but it has never worried me very much and I do not think: they have got very far. The Opposition has suggested that it has been unfairly treated by the press, but most of the wounds from which it suffers to-day are self-inflicted. What other conclusion can one come to when one remembers that immediately after caucus meetings Opposition members engage in a foot-race to the representatives of the press to inform them of confidential matters which can only damage their own comrades?
I was interested in the complaint of the Leader of the Opposition in another place, Dr. Evatt, of the treatment that he, and his party, had received from the press. When I heard his complaints my mind went back to the occasion when a serious division in the Australian Labour Party occurred. In that instance, a fortnight before he made his first attack, he approached the gentlemen who control the press - the gentlemen whom he now rebukes - and pre-booked space with them so that he could attack members of his own party - an action in direct contravention of the rules of bis party. He mentioned my name in the course of his attacks. He used the press all over Australia to say that I was one of the originators of what he called the Petrov plot. I had never met Petrov, Bialoguski or the security officers concerned in my life.
– Who is the gentleman to whom you have referred?
– I would not know Petrov and the others if I fell over them, but that did not prevent this gentleman, who complains in the press of misrepresentation, from saying that I was one of the instigators of the plot, although only two months previously he had telephoned me at the Melbourne office of the Australian Labour Party and suggested that I should become his spy and informer on his own members in the Federal Parliament, stating that I was the only person in the office who could be trusted - a poor compliment to Tripovich and Lovegrove, the other men in the Australian Labour Party office.
– Who is the gentleman to whom you have referred?
– The gentleman concerned is Dr. Evatt - who admits that he is the greatest defender of human rights the world has ever seen. While Dr. Evatt was attacking the members of his own party, we accepted the view of senior members of the party that if Dr. Evatt did not obey the rules we should. Therefore, we refrained from replying to his attacks in the press. Two results followed, first, we lost the propaganda battle, and secondly, the people believed Dr. Evatt, because we were not prepared to use the press as he had used it.
I shall now make some references to the Opposition. I feel I have the right to do this because on three or four occasions during the last couple of weeks they have made derogatory references to the party to which I belong. I take no exception to that; they may do so if they wish. We did not reply to the first attack made upon us because we believed in the old legal dictum that every dog is entitled to at least one bite. We were attacked a second time and, from a Christian point of view, we turned the other cheek. However, as we have now been attacked for a third and a fourth time I propose to reply in a way that I have learnt in my thirty years in trade union and Australian Labour Party circles. A lot has been said in the press about decisions of State A.L.P. executives, and about people resigning. I regard all that as phoney and as so much humbug. If the federal president of a party knows that the way in which he can direct his members is to call together the federal executive, and yet he does everything except call together the federal executive, then one is entitled to regard his statements and actions as so much humbug.
I have read in the press that he - I refer to Mr. Chamberlain - may come east in an effort to restore the Australian Labour Party to its old time-honoured principles, and I have been prompted to ask myself: “ Is it not a principle of the Labour movement that one joins the trade union which covers the calling in which one is employed? “ I have been a member of two trade unions for many years. I was a teacher, so I joined the teachers’ union. When I became an official of the Labour Party, I joined the clerks’ union because that was the union covering my calling. But Mr. Chamberlain, who is coming east to teach Labour principles to his recreant followers, established a world-wide record in that he was a member of the interstate executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions for several years but was not a member of a trade union. He even induced the Commonwealth Government to pay the expenses incurred in a trip to attend the International Labour Organization conference as a representative of the Australian trade unions - still not being a member of a trade union. If that is his attitude, how can he teach Labour principles to people in this part of Australia? When he was told by Mr. Albert Monk that he would have to join a trade union or leave the A.C.T.U., he went to Western Australia and had himself made an honorary member of two trade unions which do not cover the calling in which he is employed. He did not join the clerks’ union. The suggestion that he will teach Labour principles to members of his party in the eastern States, therefore, is rather remarkable. I regard his action, about which some people have become starryeyed, as merely a bid to counteract his present unpopularity in his own State where, under his secretaryship, his party now has only one member in the House of Representatives and has lost a State government. Therefore, the executive body of his party stands convicted for its attitude to this legislation. It is seeking the credit for opposing the proposed salary increases and, at the same time, is doing nothing positive to prevent them from being implemented.
This morning the press carried a rather amazing statement to the effect that certain elements in the A.L.P. have suggested that Dr. Evatt will become the leader of the right wing of the party. The statement brought to mind a conversation I had had late last year with a prominent New South Wales trade unionist who had stated that there would be another split in New South Wales and that Dr. Evatt would lead the right wing. In reply, I said, “ If that happens, I will have seen everything “. I have seen everything! When I read of the new Evatt line this morning to the effect that Dr. Evatt will lead the right wing, and that his battle against the proposed salary increases is a battle against communism, I said to Senator Cole “That means that you and I are now over with Khrushchev “.
I conclude by reiterating the opposition of my party to the proposed salary and pension increases. We concede that a case does exist for an increase, but as a matter of leadership we feel that Parliament should first, or simultaneously, give justice to the pensioners and those people in receipt of social service benefits.
.- We debated the Ministers of State Bill on Thursday night last under the pressure of events and, for some reason which has not yet been made clear but which is probably known to the leaders of the parties, the matter was so important that, despite the assurance that full debate would be permitted, it was pressed to a division in the early hours of Friday when insufficient members of the Australian Labour Party were present in the chamber to defend the Opposition view. I spoke on that bill within the time available and I do not propose now to canvass my previous remarks. To-night, 1 shall address myself specifically to the particular aspects of the Parliamentary Allowances Bill which deals with the proposed allowances to be paid to rank and file members of the Parliament as distinct from the proposed salaries to be paid to Ministers. I believe that the chaos and consternation that have been caused by this legislation have risen out of a complete misconception by the committee as to its authority, and the consequent misconstruction of the principles that it should apply, and the misapplication of the recommendations by the Cabinet that announced the adoption of the committee’s report.
I point out that when salaries of members have been reviewed in the time that I have been in the Federal Parliament - in 1952 and 1956 - those who propounded the proposals for the increases have based them solely upon a need to bring allowances then current into relation with the existing levels of other salaries and costs. Perhaps I will be permitted to read what Mr. Gaitskell said in the House of Commons when quoting from a speech made by Mr. Menzies in 1956. Mr. Gaitskell was speaking in July, 1956, and he was quoting a speech delivered by Mr. Menzies a few months before, when he said-
The facts established that quite the contrary had been the case. In 1952, members and senators had received modest increases in allowances which had brought them more or less into line with the general rates. Over the four and a half years since then there have been no increases whatever. Yet, in that time, as the report showed, there had been a substantial increase of the general rate of earnings in Australia. There had been specific and major increases in all salaries and wages affected by the latest margins award of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court.
That was stated to be a relevant fact, Mr. President. The quotation goes on -
Salaries throughout the Commonwealth Public Service had risen-
That was also regarded as relevant - and as a consequence, the salaries of permanent heads of departments had been substantially increased. There had also been a substantial rise in the salaries of judges of the High Court and the Commonwealth Arbitration Court.
Passing over some intervening statements, as did Mr. Gaitskell, 1 proceed to read the quotation -
This recommendation that the allowances paid to members of the Commonwealth Parliament be increased was not an extravagant increase to put them ahead of everybody else but a very modest increase which brought them into line once again, to some extent, with the general standard.
I quote that passage because I submit that no one person in Australia conceived that the proper interpretation of this Richardson committee’s authority in January this year, when its appointment was announced, was that the committee should do anything other than consider whether or not the figures of the allowances had got out of general relation with current salary levels.
– Allowances or salaries?
– The Constitution permits this Parliament to vote for members of the Parliament, other than Ministers, allowances only. The Constitution is specific by way of distinction that what is legitimate to vote for Ministers is salaries, but, as to ordinary members, the Constitution permits payment of allowances only. Therefore, I would not expect the Prime Minister to refer to salaries of members, nor would I conceive it to be a proper approach to this function for the Richardson committee to regard its authority as extending to other than allowances for members.
– Do you make no distinction?
– The person who drew up the term of reference expressed himself in these terms, as disclosed on page 1 of the Richardson committee’s report -
The terms of reference are -
To inquire into and report upon the salaries and allowances payable to Senators and Members of the House of Representatives, including those paid to Ministers and Members who are Office Bearers of the Parliament. (2)If it be reported that it is necessary or desirable to alter such salaries and allowances or any of them, then to recommend the nature and extent of the alterations that should be made.
Generally, to inquire into and report upon the conditions which applied to the service of Members of Parliament and Ministers, and any other related matters which may come to the notice of the Committee in the course of its inquiries and which it may consider should be reported on.
Mr. President, it is a curious excursion underneath the surface of clarity if the draftsman of those terms of reference deliberately intended this Richardson committee to embark upon a re-examination of the principle upon which that committee of three men of no peculiar skill for the function might think that members of Parliament should be remunerated. I would never have dreamt that the man who penned that reference was authorizing a committee to embark upon a fundamental constitutional inquiry into the principles of parliamentary remuneration upon which many students, many statesmen had, in previous days expounded their views. Therefore, I am amazed when I read paragraph 6 of the Richardson committee’s report -
In our judgment, our function was not to take the existing rates of salaries and allowances and bring them up-to-date in the light of movements in costs of living indices and average rates of earnings since 1951 or 1955 as the case might be.
The committee then says -
We were clearly required to make a fresh examination of the matters included in the terms of reference. We therefore approached our task without feeling fettered or committed on any question by the opinions and recommendations of the previous committees although we are told that the chairman was a concurring member of both the previous committees - or by price and wage indicators.
I should have thought that, had any judgment delivered to the Government, from whom the authority to make the recommendation issued, reached as far as that, the Government would have said, “ This committee has completely misconceived its function. The report should immediately be laid aside.” Apart from the effect which the non-contributory pensions offered to Ministers would have upon anybody’s confidence in the judgment of that committee, I would have thought that the report should have been immediately laid aside as the result of the committee having pursued a false guide, the acceptance of which means forsaking government.
Let me illustrate that point. The Prime Minister referred, as relevant matter, to the Public Service adjustment under the margins case in 1956. Let us remind ourselves as to what we, the people’s representatives, did in relation to the Public Service on the subject of margins. In January, 1955, the Public Service Arbitrator issued an award purporting to follow the principles of the two-and-a-half times award in the Metal Trades case. The Public Service Board submitted it to the Government and the Government decided that the arbitrator’s award should be appealed from. An appeal was taken to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, as it then was, with this interesting result, which any one may compare with the approach that was made by the Government to parliamentary allowances on the Richardson model in 1959.
Let us take a salary which at that time was £1,058. The Public Service Arbitrator recommended a modest increment to £1,113. The court, on appeal, adjusted it back to £1,083, and the only addition that has been made by way of basic wage adjustment since has been £63 - over the whole period. Let us take a salary which then stood at £2,018. The arbitrator recommended £2,238. The court cut that back to £2,163, and an adjustment of only £63 has been made since that date. A salary which was then £3,000 was raised by the arbitrator to £3,608. The court cut that back to £3,330. A salary which had been £4,000 was raised by the arbitrator to £4,858. The court cut it back to £4,450. The only adjustment made since December, 1955 - which, I remind you, preceded the last increase in parliamentary salaries, that of 1956 - has been £63, in that whole range of salaries.
Permanent heads received, on 1st July, 1957, an increase from £5,500 to £6,000. That meagre increase was not, of course, a refusal of justice but a recognition of the need for restraint in Public Service salaries. Why was there such a need? It was because of the terrific potential effect, through example and precedent, of anything sanctioned by the Government upon the industrial tribunals of this country. So it does seem to me that you are introducing an element of dislocation into the whole field of wage and salary adjustments when you accept the misguided view of a threeman committee appointed ad hoc and governed by evidence which none of us has been permitted to see.
Here I want to make emphatic my disagreement with Senator Maher, because in this instance not one syllable of evidence has been tabled in support of the report. We are not entitled, therefore, to relieve ourselves of responsibility, exercising our own judgment on these vital matters, and say that an independent committee guided by evidence has been justified, by that evidence, in coming to a conclusion. It is a misnomer to call it evidence. We do not know the type of the so-called 1,500 submissions that were made to it. I rather suspect that most of them were letters sent by interested members of the public which were read and given no more consideration than that.
The other night the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) conveyed the idea that three members of the Labour Opposition in the two Houses of the Parliament appeared before the committee. Before the debate concludes I should like to know how many members appeared before the committee, but I do wish to affirm that it is a completely false lead to assume that that committee had before it sound evidence - and when I speak of evidence I mean evidence of facts - warranting the conclusions that it arrived at, and tested by one factor: “ Is anybody in the Parliament going to take the responsibility of having adduced evidence that it was proper and necessary or desirable, in the terms of reference, for Ministers to have non-contributory pensions? “ I suggest that that was a gratuitous idea which the committee itself founded, on not a syllable of evidence. If I am wrong those who have knowledge to the contrary will, in all candour to the Parliament, correct me.
One can cite other matters as to which there is an overwhelming presumption that the committee exercised its own ideas in this new excursion to find principles that had occurred to no one before, and designed not to bring parliamentary salaries and allowances into correspondence with current levels of other salaries and CoSts, but to express a patrimonial approach - following a revelation which had been denied to anyone who had considered the matter previously.
I am not going to stay, or bore, honorable senators with a repetition of what I said on the last occasion. My concern is not merely with the impact upon members of the Public Service who, as honorable senators know, have claims, very feelingly entertained and amounting to a grievance, that their salaries need adjustment. We all know of the applications before the industrial tribunals. It is quite obvious to me that everyone, especially the leaders of the House of Commons - and I think that is implicit in what I have quoted from the Prime Minister’s speech of 1956 - recognizes that the precedents set by Parliament, with the responsibility of Government, in respect of its own salary adjustments must have a dynamic effect upon the flow of wage and salary adjustments - bringing them to a higher level which bears some mark of justice and correspondence with parliamentary salaries.
One might take a glimpse at the position not only in England but also in America. Reference to the American allowances is contained in a supplementary document which was submitted to the Richardson committee by the Prime Minister’s Department. That document showed that in America ministerial allowances were £A1 1,154, whilst the remuneration for members of Congress was £A 11,039. In considering those figures, we must bear in mind costs in America and Australia. My remarks on this subject are leading up to the apprehension that is felt in New York and Washington about the explosiveness of the inflationary economic situation in America. Let me quote from the “ Washington Post “ -
For the whole free world our inflation may become a time bomb that could pose a threat as great as the Communist conspiracy.
– Would you normally quote the author of that article and support his views? We have had an awful lot of rubbish from him. Would you quote him normally?
– I know of no reason why I should not. I have quoted from an article discussing the inflationary situation in America. I have quoted just one sentence to illustrate the grave concern that is felt in America in relation to the inflationary position there.
– Whom are you quoting?
– I am quoting from the Washington “ Post “.
– Who wrote the article?
– I could not say.
– What is the date of it?
– It came to me only this week. I do not stand here to support the writer. So far as I know, that apprehension in America is not confined to the press. Surely commercial judgment in America as to the difficulties facing the American export trade and the difficulties giving rise to the influences there that the Minister for Trade has just been combating are well known. The problems facing the American economy are well illustrated by events in America less than two years ago that had a marked effect on our economy.
I should not have thought that I was required to make my distinctions on a party basis, or on a left wing or a right wing basis, in pointing out the very cruel injustice that inflation creates, favouring big business and crucifying the man with small savings. Once there is a boom, there is a great possibility of an immediate depression. Surely that chance quotation from a typescript that is apparently nauseating to my colleagues cannot be isolated from themes that we have developed ourselves and of which our own Prime Minister has been a potent expounder. Surely inflation in America has got to the stage where it is creating apprehension and anxiety. I referred recently in this chamber to the anxiety of the British Cabinet as to the progress of its battle against inflation. Here in Australia, we have wage adjustment machinery that facilitates inflation much more than anything that exists in America or England. In view of the low profitability, to put it at best, of Australian export industries, these increases, having regard to their possible effects, are an unwise act of government.
I come to the final aspect of this bill with which I propose to deal. Reference has been made in the report of the Richardson committee to the fixing of remuneration for members of the Parliament on the basis that they are engaged full-time upon parliamentary duties.
– Hear, hear!
– Senator Anderson applauds that view. 1 hear applause from the other side of the chamber too. The remuneration of junior Ministers is fixed at £7,100 for full-time services, whilst the remuneration of members, also on the basis of full-time services, is fixed at £3,600. The remuneration, with allowances, of senior Ministers is fixed at £8,300. I find that very ironical. I have told honorable senators what the relative positions are in the United States of America. There, members of Congress, in the words of a graphic recent article, have to find something to exhaust their energies on. They have set up their own secretariats and have their residences in Washington - very like Ministers - and their remuneration is within £1,000 of that of Ministers. But that is just by the way.
The Richardson committee, 1 suggest, is the first authority which has said that any British parliament should be composed of members whose only occupation and only interest is parliamentary service. We know that under those circumstances members of Parliament become completely dependent upon the existence of their membership of Parliament and the emoluments that flow from it. Therefore, thoughtful people - people much more thoughtful than the members of the Richardson committee - have insisted that parliaments will lose great sources of strength if the members do not continue to be interested in the workaday affairs of the people - if they do not continue to maintain practical contact with the people’s affairs.
– Can they not do that without getting paid for it?
– Senator Marriott makes an interjection which may give him some comfort. If that was a personal insinuation, it can be answered in committee. I reserve the opportunity in committee to deal with insinuations, assertions or accusations.
– Is that a threat?
– No. I am merely indicating how I conceive that the debate on parliamentary salaries should be conducted, lt is only my own view. But I am very strongly of the opinion that, for the purpose of retaining the practical skills that represent people and for the purpose of preventing oneself becoming dependent upon executives, parties or Richardson committees, it is essential to retain one’s activities outside the Parliament to the extent to which they are consistent with parliamentary duties. Therefore, I find it both fallacious and 1 would go so far as to say subversive of the true interests of a British parliament to adopt the idea of the Richardson committee and make every member a full-time member of the parliament during his term of office. I have said that before and since the beginning of my term here, as those who have led the Liberal Party in the Senate from the day I arrived in Canberra would be able to vouch.
– But you have said so many things.
– Which you did not understand! I could have got a lot of applause by pursuing the line that was popular. But the position is that a debate on salaries demands in the Parliament, as Senator Maher said, not the adoption of any committee report or Cabinet decision, but an individual, independent decision as to what is the merit of the measure in the public interest. I find little profit in discussing the price I last paid for a haircut. An honorable senator suggests it was a long time ago. I find little profit in discussing the time I last bought a suit; I should have thought that would cause much more humour than my reference to a haircut. I think that, if you refer to the national issues and you are directing your own draft on the Treasury for parliamentary emoluments, you get a more objective guide, and in my view that guide would require a vote against the bill.
– Mr. Deputy President, I have listened to most of the speeches that have been made in this chamber during this debate, including that of Senator Wright. I listened to his speech with great interest, because apparently he intends to oppose the bill. The honorable senator did not say how he would go about fixing the allowances and salaries of members of Parliament. We as members of the Federal
Parliament have a responsibility to see that the right kind of people are encouraged to seek election to the Parliament to represent those who are outside.
At the commencement of the present regime, the Government decided to appoint an independent committee to examine the whole question of the salaries and allowances of members of the Parliament. Three such committees have been appointed. The first was the Nicholas committee, which was appointed in 1952; then there was the first Richardson committee, which was appointed in 1955; and later there was the Richardson committee of 1959.
Section 48 of the Constitution provides -
Until the Parliament otherwise provides, each senator and each member of the House of Representatives shall receive an allowance of four hundred pounds a year, to be reckoned from the day on which he takes his seat.
That provision obtained in 1901, when the first Parliament met. Five years later, the Parliament decided to increase the allowance from £400 to £600. It was at that time that the press first took to parliamentarians about this salary business. It said, in effect, “ Fancy the parliamentarians having the hide to fix their own salaries to the extent of increasing them by £200 a year “. There was a similar outcry in 1920, when salaries were raised to £1,000 a year.
The only occasion on which the Parliament has had the press behind it was in the depression days of the early 1930’s, when the salaries of senators and members of the House of Representatives were reduced from £1,000 to £750 a year. Then the various newspapers said on the front pages what a great thing the politicians were doing. That has been the only time in the history of the Commonwealth Parliament when salaries have been fixed that we have had the full acclaim of the press. We were popular with the Australian press in the early 1930’s. The salary of £750 a year was increased by dribs and drabs in the mid- 1930’s, until the remuneration of £1,000 was reached in 1938.
When the Government considered the outcry in the press about what were called salary grabs and about our taking money from the Treasury every time salaries and allowances were increased, it decided that a much fairer way to fix salaries would be to appoint an outside body. So it appointed the Nicholas committee. When the report of that committee was presented, the press again condemned the action taken by the Government. It does not matter what we do, we will never meet with the approval of the press. At least, when we appoint an outside committee to inquire into salaries and allowances we have justice on our side, because we know that the kind of people whom we appoint will adopt a fair basis for assessing those salaries and allowances.
– What do you call a fair basis?
– If you get such outstanding people as Sir Frank Richardson, Mr. Cowper and Mr. Fitzgerald on the committee - one is a business man, another an accountant, and I understand the other was a legal man - they, because of their business experience, are able to look at all phases of what is required of a member of Parliament. Having examined all those angles, they can bring forward recommendations as to what the salaries and allowances of members of Parliament should be.
– The honorable senator says that that is beyond question?
– That is beyond question, yes. That is why this Government is quite happy to stand up for the Richardson report, with slight amendments. The report states, and 1 believe that it is correct, that every senator and member of the House of Representatives who does his job properly is employed on a full-time basis. If a member wishes to have the endorsement of his party, or if he wishes to hold his seat, he must devote the whole of his time to his duties.
– Does that happen?
– I believe that it does. I know that all the members of this Parliament from my State are working on a fulltime basis. I do not know what happens in Tasmania, but we Western Australian senators are employed and are working on a full-time basis.
– Does not the honorable senator think that Senator Wright, as a private member of this Parliament, does more work than any ten of his colleagues put together?
– I was not speaking about Senator Wright. I did not mention his name. The honorable senator asked me a question and I said that as far as I knew, every member of the Parliament from Western Australia, whether a supporter of the Government or of the Opposition, devoted the whole of his time to parliamentary duties. The reason I mentioned Tasmania was because Senator Cole lives there. I cannot say what people are doing in other States.
The Richardson committee went on to say in its report that if we wanted to have only people of a certain kind in the Parliament, such as people with business interests and farmers with additional income, it would be possible to consider for members or Parliament a salary that was sufficient to cover their expenses on a part-time basis. But would it be fair to keep the salary of an ordinary member of Parliament down and preclude those who have no outside income from entering the Parliament? I am speaking here to-night, Sir, because I believe that the salaries and allowances of members of Parliament should be sufficient to encourage all sections of the community to be interested in becoming members of Parliament. No one should be precluded because the remuneration of members is not sufficient to allow him to come here.
We all know that there are heavy expenses involved in being a member of Parliament. Many expenses are incurred while we are here at Canberra, but so far as I can see, by far the greater proportion of a member’s expenses is incurred when he is hack home in his electorate, or in his State in the case of a senator. That is particularly so in the case of senators who represent big States. I understand that the Parliament will rise on about 15th May. During the month of June, I have commitments on fourteen days. Those are commitments in relation to parliamentary committees which will be meeting and at which I shall be present. I will not be able to do that without incurring a terrific amount of costs. One of those committees of which I am a member is the Mining Committee, which intends to travel throughout the State of South Australia and to visit the gold-fields of Western Australia. Those visits will cover fourteen days, and the committee will be meeting for ten days. The other four days will be taken up by meetings of the Foreign Affairs Committee, for two days in Melbourne and for two days in Sydney. So, fourteen days of the month of June are already committed, so far as I am concerned. I do not know what will happen during the rest ot that month, but the Senate may rest assured that every day will be occupied in parliamentary duties, involving a great deal of travelling throughout the State.
– And hotel expenses, too.
– And hotel expenses, as Senator Hannaford reminds me.
It is not generally recognized by the public or the press that a member of Parliament who has to travel about a big State like Western Australia must cover a huge mileage. Sometimes, to attend a naturalization ceremony, we travel up to 500 miles a day. It is nothing for a member of Parliament to travel from Perth to Geraldton, from Perth to Manjimup, or from Perth to Albany, all distances of more than 300 miles, to attend naturalization ceremonies. That is most important work and has usually to be done by motor car. The cost of running a motor car to-day is about 8d. a mile.
– That is the cost for a motor bike.
– I think that 8d. a mile would cover the normal expenses of running a motor car. We do not travel on motor bikes, although some of us travel on push bikes. However, I cannot push a bike. I am married and I drive a car. I attend functions, to which I have been asked, by driving my car, and I believe that it costs me 8d. a mile to do so. On many occasions, I travel 300 miles to a function. If we work out the cost on the basis of 300 miles there and 300 miles back, at 8d. a mile, we shall see that it comes to £20. That is all in the matter of a day or two.
I have kept a record of the number of miles I have travelled since I have been a member of this Parliament. T can assure honorable senators that the allowance which has been recommended by the Richardson committee, of £800 a year for a senator, will not nearly cover the cost of my travelling by car, let alone hotel expenses and the cost of entertaining. It must be remembered, too, that there is the cost of stamps to come out of that amount, and there are also donations to various organizations. A member of Parliament has his hand in his pocket all the time. He may meet a group of people to-day and receive their hospitality, and then he returns it. He may meet a different group the next day. All this on £800 a year. As far as I am concerned, that would last about six months.
– It is sarsaparilla one day and champagne the next.
– That is right, and when it is champagne it is too expensive.
No account is taken, Mr. Deputy President, by the various people who have spoken in opposition to this measure, of what a member’s wife does to help him retain his seat. Being a member of Parliament entails a dual job. The wife of a member is occupied for practically 50 per cent, of her time in going to various functions and looking after her husband’s interests while he is away. That is a big job, for which she receives no credit. I believe that there are many people in this place to-day who would not be here if it were not for the help of their wives. Therefore, I think that the salaries and allowances we are to receive will be adequate only for the next couple of years. As I have said before, I am one who thinks that a member’s salary should be adequate to cover all his expenses and help him raise his family in a decent manner. This increase, I believe will just do that. The bank balances of many members of the Parliament have dropped since their election to the House of Representatives or the Senate. I believe that whilst we cannot tolerate people wasting money, a person who is doing his duty in a thoughtful manner and in a husbandlike manner, who is looking after his seat and who travels throughout his State, and sometimes throughout the Commonwealth, should get a salary adequate to recoup the expenses he incurs. Do not you think, Mr. Deputy President, that it is the duty of every member of this chamber and the other place to travel throughout the Commonwealth and its territories to see what is going on, at least once during the lifetime of each parliament? Should he not go to New Guinea to see the progress that is being made under the Administration there? Should he not go to Norfolk Island and to other territories of the Commonwealth for the same purpose? Should he not see something of what is going on in other States in order to compare that with the development in his own State? He is expected, when he travels through his own State, to explain to the people the developments that are taking place in other States. Therefore, Sir, I believe that the salaries and allowances as at present fixed, particularly when we take into account the parliamentary salaries and allowances that are paid in other parts of the British Commonwealth, are not too high. I would say that a member of this chamber should receive approximately the amount of allowances that are paid in Canada, where the population is a little larger than ours, the size of the State is practically the same, and the responsibilities of a member are almost the same. In Canada, members and senators are paid a total amount of £4,570 Australian in salary and allowances. Under the bill now before us, Australia will pay its members and senators £3,550 for doing the same type of work. Canadian parliamentarians are receiving £1,000 a year more than we receive. Therefore, I say that the proposed increases are not excessive, and that if members of the Parliament do their duty as it should be done they will still have to dip into their pockets. I have much pleasure in supporting the bill.
.- I spoke on the Ministers of State Bill last Thursday evening and outlined a number of points. Therefore, I think it right that I should say something also on the measure now before us relating to salaries and allowances of private members, even if in doing so it is necessary for me to re-emphasize some aspects. I said on Thursday evening that the time factor in relation to recommendations for increased salaries and allowances to parliamentarians is important. I think that the present is not a suitable time to increase parliamentarians’ emoluments. I mentioned on Thursday evening my reasons for this contention. Senator Wright, in a very forthright and excellent speech, has also stated reasons in support of that argument, namely, that there is a claim before the Arbitration Court which could be of tremendous importance to this country from both the industrial and exporting points of view. There is also a claim before the court from the Public Service. I think the figures that Senator Wright mentioned show how small have been Public Service rises over a certain period of time compared with the proposed rises to politicians on this occasion.
We would be blind if we did not take cognisance of the dangers which could lie ahead. As I have said before, it is difficult for one to prophesy. One may do so and be entirely wrong; nevertheless, it is wise to look ahead and try to see the dangers. If we do not do so and we do not regard the economic aspect of this country as of prime importance in considering our own salaries and allowances, I think we fail in our duty. Human nature being what it is, when it is possible for people to get additional income, their natural desire is to accept any increases. But we, as responsible people in this democratic Parliament, must take a very serious view of these things. Because of the circumstances at present existing, it is very unwise for us to move in this matter. I think that the whole manner in which this matter has been handled has been unwise. The report of the Richardson committee was received by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), and it burst forth in the press while the Parliament was in recess. When the Parliament resumed, a controversy over the recommendations was raging throughout the Commonwealth. I cannot understand why the report was not put into a safe and kept there for some time until things had cooled down and the situation as far as certain factors were concerned had become more settled, and a decision then made.
It is all very well for us, as parliamentarians, to say that these criticisms have no relation to parliamentary salaries, but I point out that the members of the unions and of the civil service are human beings. The pensioners, also, have come into the picture. All of these people are not logicians, nor do they think in terms of the highest forms of budgeting. They consider how the matter relates to them and to their position. When we realize that these people have become resentful of mind because of what the parliamentarians are doing for themselves, we can understand that they will become bitter and more bitter, and this may lead to disaster in this country. On Thursday evening I mentioned the possibility of strikes occurring. I know that I am not the only member of this Parliament who has thought of that possibility.
I have read the report of the debates that took place in this Parliament in June, 1947, when the Chifley Government brought in a bill to increase the salaries and allowances payable to ordinary members from £1,000 to £1,500 a year. Mr. Menzies, who was then the Leader of the Opposition, made some very forthright statements about the proposal. I shall quote from his speech - I think this is the first time 1 have made a quotation, because J believe in expressing my own thoughts - because he illustrated very clearly what was then in his mind. He said that the basis of his objection was the fact that wages were pegged. Of course all wages were not pegged, but only a small percentage of them. He mentioned that there were dangers ahead, that some industrial turmoil could take place. On each occasion that parliamentary salaries and allowances have been increased there has been an outcry, but the outcry in 1947 was not nearly so bitter as is the present outcry. Senator Maher described the position accurately when he said that the feeling of the people on this occasion is far, far deeper than it has ever been before; there is not just criticism, but a very deep resentment. I know that many people who have been staunch supporters of the Government parties will not work for them again, and no doubt honorable senators opposite ;ire aware of the same feeling towards their party by people who have supported it in the past. That is because of the depth of feeling about the present situation.
There can be all the logic in the world, but we must acknowledge that human beings elect us to this Parliament; ordinary human beings make their judgment on election day. Let us look at what the Prime Minister said on the occasion I have mentioned when he, as the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, and all other Liberal members voted against the projected increase of parliamentary salaries and allowances from £1,000 to £1,500 a year. The right honorable gentleman said -
We know that a vigorous campaign has been conducted against wage-pegging. As the result, people like myself, who have been more involved than most, have rebuked the strikers and have -undertaken to say to them, “This is not a proper industrial dispute. This is a strike against the law of the land. You are not to indulge in a strike against the law of the land. Indeed, if we had the power to do it, we would alter the indus trial code in order that your leaders, your agitators, might be punished for stimulating strikes against the law of the land, strikes against wagepegging.”
How can any one of us, on top of that experience, turn round and say, “ Although that is the position for you, it is not the position for us. We are giving ourselves what we regard as an eminently justifiable SO per cent, increase. If you, Mr. Engineer, have an eminently justifiable claim for an increase of your margins, as perhaps you have, you must still obey the wage-pegging law.” There is enough cynicism in the public mind to-day without our increasing it. There is enough capacity for bitterness in the industrial world without our increasing it. What would any one of us have in our minds if wc were leaders of a militant union urging our men to strike, to challenge these laws by direct action, if we opened our papers and saw that the Parliament had done something that we knew perfectly well would give us a most powerful argument in inciting our men to take the law into their own hands?
Those words show that a lot of thought was given to the possible consequences that could flow if the proposed increases were granted. The statement continues -
Consequently, I believe that this is unquestionably the wrong time to be doing this. I believe that we are striking a blow at industrial peace because we are setting a bad example. I believe that we are inciting militant trade union leaders to be more militant. I believe - and I am now talking about not extravagant partisans to whom I referred earlier, but many sober-minded people in Australia with a sense of balance and fair play - that we are taking a grave risk of lowering respect for the Parliament at a time when the authority of the Parliament was never more important and at a time when the Parliament still maintains, after a period of years, a system of economic controls that we have always said was designed to benefit the people of Australia. All those things are extremely dangerous things to do. I am bound to say that I do not desire to discuss this matter in any holierthanthou attitude, as honorable members will agree, but I cannot persuade myself, although I have some personal interest, particularly in one provision, that I could be justified in improving my own position, however much it needs to be improved, if, at the same time. I was saying to the industrial workers of Australia, “ Please understand that wage-pegging is the law of the land and you must go on obeying it “. To do that would be to forfeit all moral authority, and, indeed, all moral right to talk to those people.
The then Leader of the Opposition was referring to the wage-pegging regulations as they affected the workers of this country, and stating the effect that the proposed increase in salaries and allowances would have upon the economy of Australia, which could lead to industrial turmoil.
Wage pegging is not in existence now, but quarterly adjustments- of the basic wage were discontinued some considerable time ago. As a consequence, the trade unions approach the court from time to time seeking an increase in the basic wage. Honorable senators would do well to remember the statement made by the then Leader of the Opposition so many years ago and bear in mind the possibilities that might arise if this proposed legislation becomes law.
On this occasion I am certain that the people feel a greater opposition to the proposals than previously. As I have travelled through my own State of Queensland I have spoken to many people, and they have exhibited a deep feeling of resentment. Indeed, certain people in this Parliament who have been highly regarded now unfortunately have lost a great deal of prestige. That is a serious matter. We know that the trade unions are not at all happy with members of the Australian Labour Party. Any honorable senator who can read the signs must see the serious opposition and resentment exhibited by the people who comprise the trade unions. We know that people in factories have held meetings and have sent directions to their union leaders voicing their bitter opposition to these proposed increases. How much deeper will be the feeling of resentment if the trade unions, which now have claims before the court for wage increases, do not receive as much as they hope to receive? How will they feel about the Government’s proposals then? Does any honorable senator really believe that the possibility of industrial disturbance will not exist?
– There is nothing surer.
– Senator Cameron has stated that there is nothing surer. He is a person who has been associated with the Labour movement for many years. If that is his view, and the view of the people associated with the trade unions, do honorable senators opposite think that the risk of injuring our economy is worth taking? I believe that this Government has never before done anything that will give the Communists a bigger stick to wield, and greater assistance in the development of their influence in Australia. 1 know that a case for an increase has been made out. I know also that a number of back benchers are finding difficulty in meeting their commitments at present.
That situation always arises, but every member of Parliament is not on the same basis. Some members might be making money; others might not be able to make ends meet. The situation depends upon the circumstances affecting each individual. However, if we live in a democracy in which we have faith, we must compromise and make sacrifices, if only temporarily, in order to overcome a situation that might well develop. I express that thought in all sincerity. As I stated during the debate on the Ministers of State Bill, 1 believe that we could do great harm to the economy of Australia even though vc, as parliamentarians, might benefit individually. I believe that the nation a:; a whole could well be affected detrimentally. I remind honorable senators of the statement made by the then Leader of the Opposition in 1947.
Dealing with the Richardson report, there are indications that the committee did not give sufficient consideration to the evidence before making a decision. Some people might ask, “ Who are you to condemn the conclusions of the men who comprised the committee? “ But any person who studies the results of the deliberations of the committee must see the results that could follow the implementation of its recommendations.
During the debate on the Ministers of State Bill on Thursday last I referred to the proposed allowances for honorable senators and honorable members to assist them to carry out their parliamentary duties. 1 stated on that occasion that a member of the House of Representatives representing a city electorate will receive an allowance of £850 a year. One could walk round a city electorate in an afternoon. If the member representing a city electorate visited any part of his electorate, he would be at home sleeping in his own bed at night without incurring any hotel expenses. Members representing country electorates such as the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe), to whom Senator Maher referred, will receive an allowance of £1,050 a year, that is, £250 more than the allowance to be paid to a senator. In other words, a senator will receive £250 less than a member representing a country electorate in the House of Representatives. Senator Scott said that if a member of Parliament does not do his job properly then it is a matter for his party to see to it that he mends his ways. I have said that already in a previous speech, and 1 repeat that if the committee had gone into that aspect thoroughly it could not logically have recommended that a member of the House of Representatives, who is required to travel only through his electorate, which represents only a small portion of a State, should receive £250 a year more for expenses than a senator who represents a whole State. I emphasize that I am not arguing that anybody should be paid more. I merely make the comparison to show that the committee has been entirely wrong in some of its recommendations. If the committee really thought that members representing larger electorates required more expenses then I suggest it should have carried the argument to its logical conclusion and recommended allowances for senators according to the size of the States they represent. For instance, no one could argue that the travelling expenses and the cost of accommodation met by a member in traversing Tasmania would be as much as the cost of travelling through Western Australia or Queensland. 1 submit that there is no sense in the recommendation made by the committee on this matter.
Despite what some honorable senators say, this committee is not infallible, and it has certainly shown that it is not accurate in every respect. If honorable senators have any pride at all in their chamber, they certainly would not accept this legislation which discriminates against the Senate in favour of another chamber. It is up to the Senate now to say whether senators, if they are doing their work properly, find it more costly to travel over a whole State than to tour merely an electorate of a State. I say to honorable senators, “ By your decision to-night on this legislation you will indicate to the people what you think about your work as senators representing the various States “.
I do not propose to go into the question of whether members and senators are being paid enough by way of allowance for expenses. My purpose to-night is to enlarge a little on the subject about which I was chastized or checked by one or two of my colleagues on this side. I refer to the principle by which we should be guided in deciding what we should receive by way of allowance for expenses. It is clear to me that these allowances should be adequate to cover the carrying out of parliamentary duties and the rendering of service to the people as their representatives. If the amount is fixed on that basis, then it is for the parliamentarian himself to say whether he will limit himself to that amount. If he wants to spend more, that is entirely his business. I emphasize that parliamentary service is something quite distinct from electioneering, something quite apart from doing things calculated to ensure one’s re-election.
– The last time I spoke in this strain, Senator Buttfield objected. I was interested to read an article in the Sydney “ Bulletin “ on this point over the week-end. Should we expect to receive an expense allowance sufficient to enable us to nurse our electorates in order to ensure that no one else will win the seat from us? I well remember a Tasmanian senator under the Chifley Government being paid an extra allowance to enable him to get round his electorate with a view to winning more votes. On that occasion, honorable senators now on the Government side objected most strenuously and the allowance was cancelled. On that occasion, they argued that by receiving this extra allowance the honorable senator in question was being helped to hold his seat and was being favoured to the disadvantage of others. We are now dealing with legislation relating to parliamentary salaries, and we should follow the same principle now as guided us on that occasion. If honorable senators on this side thought it was wrong on that occasion for a special allowance to be paid to one honorable senator for the purpose of enabling him to hold his seat, then it is equally wrong now to pay every member of Parliament an allowance with that end in view.
– But it was paid to only one senator.
– Of course it was, but the same principle was involved! The reason honorable senators on this side objected to the payment then was that it gave the person concerned an opportunity to nurse his electorate to ensure his reelection.
– It is not nonsense. I am not one of those people who become confused; I have a clear mind on this matter. I remember the occasion well. My point is that the expense allowance is paid to enable members of Parliament to render service to the people as their representatives, not for the purpose of ensuring that one retains his seat in Parliament. The allowance is not paid to enable one to throw money right and left, to enable one to become a little messenger or to make a good impression so that the electors will feel that one is a good fellow and must be retained in Parliament.
– What nonsense!
– Apparently Senator Buttfield cannot differentiate between parliamentary service and political propaganda. We must get it firmly in our minds that we are the people’s representatives, and we must have a clear idea of what parliamentary service means. I have a clear mind about it. There is a limit to what the Commonwealth Parliament should pay senators and members for rendering parliamentary service. They should not be paid an amount that will enable them to entrench themselves politically so that nobody else will have a chance of winning a seat.
– Do you suggest that the proposed allowance does that?
– I am not suggesting that it does. I am pointing out that there are some who say that a great deal more is needed. Why, only last week I heard one member of the Government say over the radio that in less than six months he had spent his allowance of £900. That means that the cost in his electorate would probably be about £2,000 a year. Where will we finish if this sort of thing goes on? There must be a limit to these things. These allowances should be based on parliamentary service and should not be for the entrenchment of individuals in Parliament for a lifetime.
Frequently during this debate we have heard talk about percentage increases for parliamentarians in comparison with the basic wage and other salaries. That is not a fair comparison. For instance, the pen sioner has been mentioned. An increase of 10 per cent, in the age pension would not be a large sum.
– Get off the pensioner’s back!
– I am merely pointing out that such an increase would not be a big amount. Senator Aylett has talked enough about pensioners at different times, but, to please him, I shall refer to the basic wage. According to the stuff his party puts over, honorable senators opposite are supposed to represent the man who is in receipt of the basic wage. An increase of 10 per cent, in the basic wage would not amount to a great deal - it would not give the wage-earner so much more to play with - but 10 per cent, of a parliamentarian’s salary and allowance is a considerable sum. It would certainly give the parliamentarian a lot more to play with, a lot more to do things with, even though he may be living on a higher standard, than 10 per cent, of the basic wage would give to the wageearner. When we make these comparisons we should try to achieve relativity, common sense and fairness, and not attempt to indicate that we should be receiving more than we are.
Senator Wright referred to Ministers’ salaries and allowances. I have read in the newspapers, .and heard it said quite freely, that when senators and members last received an increase no increase was received by Ministers. I may be wrong, but I understand that the Ministers did get the increase received by back-benchers. Is that not correct?
– It has never been expressed in that way. That is misleading the public. The Ministers did receive an increase. That is a point which I, as a back-bencher, want to make quite clear. Senator Wright gave some interesting examples of the amounts to be paid to Ministers under the recommendations, as compared with the amounts to be paid to back-benchers, and quoted figures from the United States of America. Honorable senators realize that the United States of America is a very big country, both in area and population. Its size and population give us some idea of the business that must be handled by the people who control the destinies of that great nation. Senator Wright showed clearly the small difference that exists between the salaries of Ministers and those of ordinary members. However, when we talk about American dollars and compare them with the Australian £1 we tend to convert the dollar into our own currency. I believe that the right way to make the comparison is to consider the money at par value in each country. If you take the money earned in each country at par - and, after all, it is being spent in each country - you will find that a building which cost 5,000,000 dollars in America would cost about £1,000,000 in Australia.
Let us take the American situation, The dollar, at par, was equal to about 4s. 2d. On that basis a Cabinet Minister there would be receiving 25,000 dollars a year. It is rather illuminating to consider that he would be receiving the equivalent of £5,000 in our money. Suppose that, overnight, Australia’s exports enabled us to get on a par with the United States of America. We could then say that their Ministers were receiving £5,000 a year and their backbenchers £4,500 a year. It is suggested that honorable senators will now receive £2,750, plus expense allowances; and that Ministers will receive between £7,000 and £8,500 in all. Based on that calculation, the Richardson report would appear to have been very generous indeed. As I have said, in some respects it has been lavish.
I want to make it clear that this Government had indicated in its last Budget that economic circumstances were such that we created a certain atmosphere. We told the people that things had more or less to remain as they were; that we could not give concessions in this field, or grant increases in that field. As I said on Thursday night, we are the people who should set an example in maintaining the principles laid down in the Budget for the last half of last year and the first half of this year. Let us practise what we preach to the people of this country.
Let me conclude by saying that this is the Parliament of a democracy, and that Parliament should be the highest forum in the land. It should be something that the people can look up to. Any fight that it puts up, or anything that it fights to defend or protect, should be really worth while. In the last few days we have had the spectacle of the Opposition apparently seeking to prevent the passage of this legislation. It was the greatest sham fight ever put on in this Parliament. I think it is a disgrace to our democracy that the people were led to believe that Labour was fighting against the Ministers of State Bill. It was doing nothing of the kind. It had made up its mind that, no matter how many people crossed from this side, the measure must not be defeated; that the Government had so arranged it that if the first bill was rejected Labour would not get this bill. Labour was anxious, irrespective of the consequences to this country, to get the increase, lt is little wonder that it was not prepared to put up a genuine fight of the kind that it led the people to believe it was fighting. A swifty was put over the people of this country and it is to the disgrace of Labour, and of this Parliament, that that sort of thing should take place. If we believe in something we should stand up and say so. If we do not believe in it let us fight hard against it, but what has been going on here has been a disgrace to Parliament, the focal point of our democracy. That is all that I have to say on this bill at the secondreading stage. I repeat, I intend for the various reasons which I have given to oppose it.
– I found two points of interest in the speech of Senator Wood, though I did not find them convincing, and it is with those alone, in regard to this particular speech, that T should like to deal. It seemed to me that a good deal of what he said stemmed from an acceptance that one could apply now words spoken by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) over a decade ago - twelve years ago - tin conditions which were entirely different from those which now obtain. Honorable senators will recall that this was then a country where there were shortages of al! kinds, rationing of all materials, great industrial unrest and no clear way in which those shortages could be met - as they have been since. The conditions were different, but before I leave this point ! would say that the Prime Minister, in those different conditions, believed that it wy; not right that a rise in the salaries and allowances of members of Parliament should take place. Because he believed that, he executed a deed of disclaimer and refused to take the salary approved by the Parliament. I do not believe that those conditions obtain now, but if anybody does believe that they still obtain and quotes words spoken over a decade ago in support of his belief, I suggest that the example shown by the Prime Minister then could well be followed by those who quote his words now.
Another point with which I should like to deal is the odd conception that allowances granted to the members of Parliament who use them are allowances granted to allow those members to buy their way back into Parliament and give nobody else a chance of beating them. I look at the electorate in which I live, which is not represented by a member of my own party. It is a country electorate. The man who represents it in the House of Representatives goes round the electorate twice a year. He does so because the people of the electorate want him to do so in pursuance of his parliamentary duties. They want him to listen to the problems that they have to put to him. They want him to attend conferences of wheat and wool producers. They want him to go amongst the people and find out what the people need. The only way in which he can do that is by travelling round his electorate in pursuit of his parliamentary duties. I have worked out that the mileage he does in his car on those trips alone, working on the basis of the mileage allowance that we used to pay to the shire engineer when I was a shire president, would cost him £700 a year. That would leave him £100 to cover the cost of stamps - because he has correspondence to attend to - hotel accommodation and Other incidentals. Is that buying his way into Parliament or is that doing the job he he was elected to Parliament to do? I think it is doing the job he was elected to do.
If there are members - and there are - who do not use their allowance for that purpose, that is a matter for them to square with their consciences. I am sure that although they accept the allowances, they do not show them as a part of their taxable income. That is a matter for them to square with their own consciences, or a matter for the people to deal by getting rid of them because they are not doing their jobs properly. When we approach the subject of allowances surely we must do so on the basis of giving a member of Parliament who is prepared to do his job enough money to do it, and not more than enough. We should not be swayed from that thought because some members of Parliament find their time too occupied, or because they have electorates which are too small to warrant the full tax-free allowance which they get and keep.
During the course of this debate some ammadiversions have been made from time to time upon the personnel of the Richardson committee, the manner of the appointment of the committee and the way in which it went about its work. All I have to say now is that none of that criticism was heard at the time the announcement was made that the committee would be appointed. None of that criticism of the personnel was heard at the time the personnel of the committee was announced. If criticisms are made now of the way in which the committee went about its work, it is apparent that those who were silent previously are now attempting to set themselves above the committee and make themselves arbiters, without having heard the evidence which the committee heard and which it was appointed to hear.
– If you are referring to my criticism, let me inform you that I broadcast my criticism on the day after the announcement of the appointment of the committee.
– I would be glad to hear later a detailed report of your criticism made at that time. But you are not the only member of Parliament who criticized the committee.
The committee has put forward various reasons for its recommendation that the private member of Parliament should receive a rise in his salary and allowance. I must say quite frankly, and with some measure of detachment, that I believe the case for a rise in the salary and allowances of private members is an unanswerable one, but I shall deal first with an argument which the Richardson committee put forward with which I do not entirely agree. The committee pointed out that members of Parliament have to leave their homes, wives and families for long periods and that they are rarely home at night because of the necessity to attend meetings which continue sometimes until 11 or 12 o’clock. That is true, but I do not find that argument particularly convincing because, after all, nobody twists our arm to get us into Parliament. We go into Parliament because, for one reason or another, we want to Some of us, perhaps, go in for reasons of egotism and others, perhaps, because (hey think they have something to contribute. Al] of us probably enter Parliament for a mixture of those two reasons and for others. That being so, and knowing the conditions of service, we must Se prepared to accept the bad - and it is bad to have such little home life - with the good. But that is by the by.
Surely the questions that ought to be asked in this matter are: What are members of Parliament paid? How do their salaries compare with the general level of wages in the community? Is the salary of a member of Parliament enough for a man with no other source of income who devotes his time to the job for which he nas been elected? The answer to the first question is surely purely factual. He was, and. he is, paid £2,350 a year. After deductions for superannuation and taxes, he is. left with’ £1,700, £1,800 or £1,600, depending on what his taxation bill is. That compares, I suppose, with the general level of wages. I understand the average wage in- Australia is about £21. That means that a member of Parliament has take-home pay equivalent to one-and-a-half times the take-home pay of a plumber or other skilled tradesman, but much less amount than that of even a moderately successful member of a profession.
– What about the unemployed?
– Would you mind if we- bring in the irrelevant parts later on? That is how the pay of a member of Parliament compares with the general level of wages paid to skilled tradesmen or members of professions. Is that enough for a married man with a family, without private means, to enable him to carry on his work and give a proper amount of time and a proper amount of brainwork to the running of Australia? I suggest that it is not. Certainly it is enough, and more than enough, for those who have private means, for those who are lucky enough to be high in a profession, for those who have had some land left to them or have inherited money. Those people would be prepared to do the work they like for far less, or, indeed, for nothing.
Do we want to have a parliament which is composed only of those who have inherited wealth or who have been given the advantages of education, or a parliament which includes others who cannot earn £1,600 a year in the ordinary labour market? Perhaps there would be some others with a wife and family who would1 condemn them to a certain amount of penury because of their great desire. But there are many others whom we ought to have in the Parliament who have not inherited wealth, who have what is required to run a parliament and a country properly, but who will be debarred from serving on the present level if this bill is not agreed to.
I have already dealt with the difficulties that confronted the Richardson committee and which will confront any committee when it is trying to deal with members of parliament who represent electorates of different sizes, who have a different idea of the amount of work that ought to be put in both inside and! outside the Parliament, and who have different abilities to do that work. On any determination on this matter great anomalies could be pointed out in certain cases, but I reiterate that the salary and allowance, quite apart from any anomalies, ought to be sufficient to enable a man who has no great private means of his own, who has a wife, who has a family to educate, and who is prepared to take the insecurity which this job offers, to earn something like what a professional man of no great stature in the community can earn.
There has been talk again to-night of the inflation that it has almost been taken for granted this increase will bring about. There has been talk of applications that will be made by public servants, one gathers, as a- result of the Richardson report, in spite of the fact that applications were made long before the report was presented and are in fact before the court at the present moment. Still, those things are supposed to be likely to flow from this report. In support of that assertion, we have had quoted to us to-night, as from the “ Washington Post “, a paid advertisement inserted in all sorts of American newspapers by a representative of big business in the United States of America - surely something which is completely irrelevant to the matter at present under discussion.
Why should it be thought that, when m this case an independent tribunal is appointed to examine these things and come to a dispassionate judgment, and when independent tribunals are appointed in the Public Service and in other fields to examine evidence and come to a dispassionate judgment, the one should necessarily affect the other? It cannot be claimed, I hope, that the amount of money involved in the increases recommended in the Richardson report can set off inflation in this country. The amount of money involved is minuscule when compared with the whole national economy. I should have thought that to claim that the Richardson report, reasoned as it is and bringing up a parliamentarian’s salary, as it does, in proportion to the way other salaries have risen since 1939, would tend to influence the mind of an arbitration court or any other independent body would be casting a reflection on that arbitration court or independent body and would be saying that it was scarcely competent to do its job.
They are the points that have been made in this debate so far which I wish to answer. In conclusion, let me say this: It has been suggested overtly or covertly that the Richardson committee makes every member of the Parliament a fulltime member. It does not do anything of the kind, nor does it pretend to do anything of the kind. What it has done has been to allow a member to become a fulltime member and to do his duty if he has nothing which appeals to him more or pays him more, and which takes his mind off the parliamentary work that he has to do. T think the attack on this bill in particular is completely without reason; in my view, it is quite despicable. I support the bil!, and I know the majority of honorable senators will agree with me in doing so.
. I rise to address the Senate briefly on this measure. In the early hours of last Friday morning, I took part in a debate which, in effect, was a second-reading debate on this bill and the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Bill. I wish to emphasize to the Senate that my opposition to the pay and allowances bills now under discussion stems from a firm belief that a parliament should not legislate for an increase of the pay and allowances of members to take effect during the life of that parliament. I believe it was Sir Winston Churchill who said that swallowing words never gave him indigestion. But I have no desire to swallow words that I have uttered in this chamber, in which, as I reminded the Senate last Friday morning, I still believe and which I have repeated since 1956.
Upon reading the “ Hansard “ report of my remarks I found that “ Hansard “, as usual, faithfully reported me; but, perhaps owing to the stress of the time and lateness of the hour, I did not inform the Senate that I would be voting against this bill at the second-reading stage. I did imply opposition to it, and I did have circulated to all members of the Senate, I hope, an amendment that I shall move at the committee stage. I had hoped that the Government would accept that amendment and, as my colleagues know, I tried to have my belief accepted in another place. But when I realized the Government would not accept the amendment, I found it necessary to try to prove my faith in the principle I enunciated by indicating that I would vote against the measure and that, if the bill passed the second-reading stage, I would plead with honorable senators at the committee stage to agree to my ideas and defer the date upon which the legislation would come into effect.
I find that within the party rooms of honorable senators from both sides of the chamber, and I think within the splinter group, there is not much support for my belief. Therefore, I fear the bill will become law as it is now printed. But I have a sincere belief that, if a gallup poll was taken of the electors of Australia at a time removed from the vicious press campaign to which we have been subjected, those electors would say to the Parliament, “We recognize your constitutional right to fix your pay and allowances; we do not query that. But fix them so that they come into effect at the commencement of the next Parliament.” The Senate, and indeed the whole Parliament, not just the Government alone, should start to consider the future position. The reputation of the Parliament has been scarred and deeply affected. The stature of Parliament in Australia has been lowered, and the Communists are enjoying every bit of it. lt is obvious to all of us that the pay and allowances of members of Parliament will not be altered for many years to come, whichever party is in government in the future. I believe that it is our right, our bounden duty and our responsibility to get together in a sensible manner with a view to evolving a system which will take this difficult question out of the sorry plight in which we now find it. The Parliament is responsible, and for the sake of parliamentary government the Parliament must make its policy clear. The people of Australia will respond and applaud any sensible action that the Parliament takes in that atmosphere. 1 remind you, Sir, that 1 have circulated an amendment to put into effect what I believe, quite sincerely, to be true. If, in spite of my voting against this bill on the motion for the second reading, the second reading is approved, I shall move in committee that the act shall come into operation on the day on which is held the next general election of the House of Representatives after the day on which the act receives the Royal assent. I believe that the people of Australia would applaud the Parliament for taking such an attitude. If that were done, the people would not unduly criticize the increases of pay and allowances that are set out in the bill under discussion, and I think that we should be doing the Parliament a very great service.
I have only one other reference to make to the bill, and in this connexion I find myself in conflict with my friend and colleague, Senator Wright, which is a rarity in my experience. I refer to the question of the full-time duties of members of Parliament. In my opinion, it would be a shocking thing for Australia and for the democracy that exists in this country, if it were not possible for employees to enter Parliament and for them to exist, as they should, in economic security solely on the pay and allowances that they drew as members of the National Parliament. I think that this Parliament would be greatly weakened if it consisted only of the wealthy, or of those who had professions, businesses or properties, that brought them in an income in addition to their parliamentary allowances.
– The committee says that in its report.
– Then I could not agree more with the committee. This Parliament gains strength through having members who are fully employed on political purposes. I must admit that, originally in 1951, when 1 went before the endorsement committee of the Liberal Party in Tasmania, I then said that it would be my ambition, and that I would make every effort, to seek another job from which 1 could earn an honest income. I would not decry anybody who entered Parliament and sought another job and obtained one; but if past experiences are worth while, I sincerely believe that an employee who gets into Parliament, be he a Liberal, a Labour man, or a member of a splinter group, finds it very difficult to get any other occupation that will give him an income. So, in opposing the views of my colleague, Senator Wright, as I heard them expressed, I say that it is my firm belief that the pay and allowances of members of the National Parliament should be such as will enable a man with no other income to carry out his duties and live up to the job that he is elected to do.
Sentaor Wright. - I have not said anything to the contrary.
– Then 1 have again misunderstood the honorable senator. I misunderstood him in 1956 and perhaps I am not right on this occasion also. However, I shall not labour the question further.
It will be a matter of regret for me if this bill is to take effect before the date of the next general election, and it will be a matter of very great regret if the increases that have been recommended are made retrospective. I referred to that matter early on Friday morning last and I shall not repeat what I said then. I think that we are doing a great wrong in back-dating this legislation. I shall oppose the bill and move my amendment in committee.
– Senator McManus and I have already set out our objections to this bill, but I have been brought to my feet by certain references to myself during this debate. I read recently that a person in another place - 1 think his name is Dr. Cairns - had stressed very strongly the allegation that 1 was before the Richardson committee for one and a half hours. A similar allegation was made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Kennelly) in his speech during a previous debate. 1 can understand Dr. Cairns’s objection. As a pro-Communist - I am told he believes in that ideology - he no doubt thinks that if he repeats a lie often enough people will come to believe it, and that that is a legitimate means of propaganda. Senator Kennelly has been in politics for so long that untruths of this kind come as second nature to him.
I shall tell the Senate what I said to the Richardson committee. 1 put forward our views regarding pensions; that is to say, that there should be no increases of parliamentary salaries and allowances until pensioners and those in receipt of other social service benefits had received a decent living standard. I put that to the members of the committee, but naturally they wiped it out. They said, “ It has nothing to do with us. That is for you people in Parliament to deal with.”
– Quite right, too.
– It is quite right, and that is the reason that we are taking the attitude that we have adopted. I did not disagree with the committee. All that happened thereafter was that we had a nice, quiet chat about the social and financial position of the various members of the Democratic Labour Party who had been defeated at the election. I told the committee all that I possibly could of the conditions of those people, and may I say that in some cases their financial position is not very strong. I told the committee that, too.
For some reason or other, Dr. Cairns and Senator Kennelly see some sin:ster implication in my appearance before the committee. They say that I was there for one and a half hours. T am telling them now, and putting it on record, that I was not. I did not go into the committee room until about half-past nine, after I had come from Tasmania. I had sent a note to say that T would not be going before the committee, but when I arrived by plane from Tasmania that night I had a ring from the secretary, and he asked me to go down. So I went before the committee without any preparation whatsoever. That, Mr. Deputy President, is the sinister implication that our opponents try to give to this one and a half hours before the committee. The truth is that they are trying to get away from the fact that we are not saying that politicians should not get some increases. We are talking about a principle in this, a principle that we intend to follow out.
There is one other point 1 wish to make. It concerns Senator Marriott’s amendment. If ever I have seen a sham fight, this is it. The first indication we had of the great fight that was to be staged in this Parliament was a statement from Senator Marriott that appeared in the Tasmanian newspapers. Senator Marriott proposes to move an amendment in committee. I asked him last Thursday night why he did not move the amendment to the Ministers of State Bill.
– 1 had one printed, and I knew the Labour Party was walking out.
– You knew that the Labour Party was opposing the Ministers of State Bill and that if you had come over the measure could have been defeated. You knew also quite well that the Labour Party would support the bill now before us. and you had no worry whatsoever about numbers. So, Mr. President, I say that this is a sham fight on Senator Marriott’s part. If he wanted a fight on this issue, why did he not come over with his two mates, as we call them?
– Why do you not admit that you are telling a lie?
– I am not telling a lie at all. I reiterate that my parly is against this bill and the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Bill, as we were against the Ministers of State Bill, and we will oppose all of the amendments that will be moved at the committee stage.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 40
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate. I formally put the question -
That the Chairman do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the negative.
Clause 2 -
This Act shall be deemed to have come into operation on the first day of March, One thousand nine hundred and fifty-nine.
– I move -
Leave out the clause, insert the following clause: - “ 2. This Act shall come into operation on the day on which is held the next general election of the House of Representatives after the day on which this Act receives the Royal Assent.”.
I have already proclaimed my reasons for proposing this amendment, and have stated why I voted against this bill being read a second time. Since that time the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labour Party (Senator Cole), in order to gain for himself the right to speak after I had concluded my speech, accused me of putting up a sham fight. That accusation may be answered quite easily. Senator Cole and the Deputy Leader of the Australian Democratic Labour Party (Senator McManus), who is also the party Whip, have proclaimed their disagreement with this proposed legislation. Then, in the hope that the bill will become law, they have said, “ We will not accept any amendments, because acceptance of amendments gives support to the bill “. We have heard a lot of nonsense spoken in this chamber, but King Cole takes the crown to-night. By not supporting my amendment, he is trying to provoke the pensioners into supporting his beleaguered garrison. However, if he and his deputy have one tittle of sincerity in their opposition to the legislation - I doubt it - they will support my amendment which, if accepted, at least will delay the operation of the legislation for well nigh three years because it does not seem probable that a double dissolution of the Parliament will take place in the intervening period.
The sentiments I have expressed on this occasion are not new. I proclaimed them in 1956, in 1957 and throughout the election campaign last year. If I were of the opinion that this is the time to increase the salaries and allowances of members of the Parliament, I should be prepared to risk indigestion by eating my words. I firmly believe that if this bill becomes law its provisions should not become effective until the commencement of the next Parliament. No Parliament should increase the pay of its members, such increase to take effect during the life of that Parliament. If Senator Cole was at all sincere in his attitude, he would support my amendment.
– Why did the honorable senator not submit an amendment to the Ministers of State Bill?
– Senator Cole has queried my action. I shall give him the facts which can be proved in writing. When I was informed that members of the Australian Labour Party in another place and in this chamber intended to support this bill,
I told the Leader of the Government in the Senate that, in order to attempt to defeat this measure, I would oppose the Ministers of State Bill. After hearing the speeches of Opposition senators I decided that if the bill scraped through the second reading as the result of the support of D.L.P. senators, I should propose an amendment during the committee stage. Therefore, I prepared amendments to both bills in similar terms. Although I had no opposition to the Ministers of State Bill, as I mentioned on Thursday last - because I agreed with the recommendations contained in the report of the Richardson committee - I intended to oppose it in an endeavour to defeat the measure now before us. Incidentally, Senator Cole might be interested to know that I circulated too many copies of my proposed amendment to the Parliamentary Allowances Bill and left myself without a copy. In my own use, in my own fair hand, I have changed the name of the Ministers of State Bill to the Parliamentary Allowances Bill in the copy of the proposed amendment that I now hold in my hand.
– The honorable senator should have proposed his amendment to the Ministers of State Bill. He should not be hypocritical.
– That was useless. I do not wish ever to be hypocritical in Parliament. The honorable senator would do well to follow my example. If he did so, he would support the amendment.
– I support the amendment proposed by Senator Marriott, but I do not wish to enter into any of the exchanges that have been taking place. Senator Gorton, during his speech, referred to the report of the Richardson committee. On the day after the announcement was made that a committee had been appointed to review salaries and allowances of members, I made a broadcast and, with the consent of the committee, I shall incorporate the full text of the script in “ Hansard “. It reads -
The Government has announced that, after discussions with the Opposition, a committee has been appointed to review salaries and allowances. The committee consists of Sir Frank Richardson, Mr. G. Fitzgerald, Mr. Cowper and Mr. Herde of the Prime Minister’s Department. Mr. Herde is a public servant, and his membership should be regarded as only secretarial. But the absence from the committee of any person of outstanding constitutional knowledge, and the absence of representation of primary producers is a serious fact.
Sir Frank Richardson holds no government post. Mr. Fitzgerald is a prominent chartered accountant. Mr. Cowper is a Sydney solicitor. These three gentlemen, of course, should have close contact with business trends. But the fixation of salaries has been a problem which confronted Parliament only during the present century. In my own opinion, it can endanger the position of Parliament as a representative institution and a body of responsibility. First, I suggest that whilst parliamentary supremacy is an important facet of Parliament, it would be wise in this matter where the interests of members are predominant to have a committee of real independence and security whose acknowledged task was to make recommendations for salary adjustments on a permanent basis. Permanency would be a guarantee of responsibility. Its personnel should consist of ex-judges and great figures in the country’s public work. There is great danger in ad hoc committees whose responsibility is transitory.
Secondly, it should be a provision that no increase in salary or allowance takes place during the life of an existing parliament. An increase should take place only after a general election following its announcement. The member would then be in the position of submitting himself to election before taking the increase with a full knowledge by the country that the proposal was current.
Finally, at this time no increase should be sanctioned. The country’s trading balance is getting gradually worse; wool, our main support, is down; and we are living on the deficit of the last budget of £110,000,000 financed by treasury-bills. In my opinion, this is a time when increases in parliamentary salaries should be opposed.
I urge every member of the committee to give thoughtful consideration to the principle behind the proposed amendment. A similar proposal was advanced in the Tasmanian Parliament in 1947 when I was a member of that Parliament. That proposal was accepted by both sides of the House. A similar proposal was put forward in the Queensland Parliament in 1952 by Mr. Morris, if my memory of a conversation I had with him in Canberra is correct. I referred to that matter in my speech in the Senate in 1952, at which time I thought the circumstances warranted a departure from the principle contained in the proposal.
We can see all too plainly the way in which the people become distrustful of the Parliament when members individually advocate an increase in their own emolument - something in which they have au unequivocal interest. Surely the imputation of self-interest would be removed if any increases voted by Parliament became effective with the constitution of the succeeding Parliament. Circumstances may arise in which steep inflationary rises would cause hardship to members of Parliament, but those occasions would be rare. Senator Marriott’s proposed amendment contains a very salutary principal and, in my opinion, it warrants support.
– I should like Senator Wright’s assurance, first, that the broadcast that he made regarding the setting up of the Richardson committee was made in the circumstances he has stated, and secondly, that any criticism he may infer from my remarks is not regarded as being directed at him. In extenuation, I can only state that 1 could not have supposed that Senator Wright would have made a broadcast in the terms of the script to which he has referred because, during the debate in the Senate when the Nicholas report was presented, Senator Wright, as reported in “ Hansard “, made it abundantly clear that he did not believe that the rises proposed should be deferred until the constitution of the succeeding Parliament. I could not have known that Senator Wright’s views would have undergone such a drastic change.
.- I regret that such an inaccurate reference was made to my remarks. If the honorable senator will be good enough to refer to those remarks he will see that I enunciated a general principle in line with Senator Marriott’s amendment. I then justified, as I said just before Senator Gorton rose, my departure on that occasion because a former judge had sat on the committee.
– What were the three reasons that you gave in 1951?
– Spare me-
– I will tell you one. It was that only half the Senate came out.
– Therefore, it was not right for the other half to vote. That was one of the three reasons that you used.
– Exactly. There is no need for heat, especially from the ministerial bench.
– I do not want to pour cold water over you.
– You are not pouring cold water over me, but I shall take whatever is necessary, even though it may be only a tumbler of cold water. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty), with some heat - apparently he has looked at my speech - reminds me that I then said it would be inappropriate for the Senate to insist on that principle in relation to its own constitution. I think I would adhere to that view to-day. The principle underlying Senator Marriott’s proposal is that the Parliament should suspend the operation of the proposals of the House in which money bills originate and which it alone is responsible for originating until a general election has occurred.
– What were the other reasons you advanced?
– 1 did look to my 1952 speech and read about two paragraphs of it a few days ago. I had not time to read more.
– I read it, and I can tell you.
– Thank you very much. If the honorable senator suggests there is anything else there that is inconsistent with my viewpoint now, let me say, first, that I always reserve to myself the right, with further experience, to change or modify a viewpoint. Secondly, I should be glad if the Minister would put forward the views that I submitted in 1952 so that the committee might consider them more fully because they might assist honorable senators in deciding their attitude to the amendment.
I am sorry that I have been provoked by ministerial interjection into prolonging my remarks. All I rose to do was to correct the indirect references by Senator Gorton to the remarks I made in 1952.
– This proposed amendment is not quite in accord with what I had in mind when making my speech earlier to-night, but it probably will do something towards achieving what is aimed at, and, therefore, I support Senator Marriott’s proposal.
Senator SPOONER (New South WalesVicePresident of the Executive Council and Minister for National Development) [10.451. - I feel that I should say something in this debate. The first thing I say is that the Government is not prepared to accept the amendment. But I should like to go a little hit further than that and support what Senator Marriott has said. Senator Marriott consulted me as to what might be the proper thing for him to do in this matter, as a supporter of the Government. His position was that he had gone on record some considerable time ago as expressing certain views. He expressed the view that these increases should not apply during the life of this Parliament but should be deferred until a subsequent Parliament was elected. I could only point out to him that that might be his view - I had no doubt that he held that view very sincerely - but it would be wrong on his part to attempt to force that view upon his own political party with the aid of his political enemies. I think that was the correct advice for a leader to give.
Senator Marriott at no time expressed the view that the remuneration of members of Parliament should not be increased; he at no time expressed the view that the remuneration of Ministers should not be increased. On the contrary, he has expressed the view that it is reasonable that there should be increases of remuneration, but he suggests that it should not be done during the life of the Parliament. Not only do I disagree with that point of view but I point out to him, and to the committee, that it is wrong to commence upon the basis that proper and adequate notice was not given of the Government’s intention to approach this matter in this way.
It is over two years now since the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party sent a circular letter to every member of the House of Representatives and every Senator in which he expressed the view that early in the life of the new Parliament, an independent committee should be established to look at the remuneration of members of Parliament. Every person who was a member of Parliament in 1957 received a copy of that letter, and the view I take is that that was the time for anyone to complain, or object. There were no objections. That approach to the matter received general approval. Therefore, I said to Senator Marriott that, as he had the same notice as everybody else, it was not right for him to hold up Government business because he had a personal view which, just as the cards fall, just in the particular circumstances, he might have been able to press upon the Government with the aid of those who, to say the least, do not normally help the Government.
That seems to me to be the proper attitude for me to take. I supported him, and I advised him to approach it that way. Having said that, I repeat that the amendment is not one that the Government is prepared to accept.
– I desire to take one moment to put the viewpoint of the Opposition in relation to the amendment. The Opposition cannot support it. I have no aspersions whatever to cast upon the sincerity of the honorable senator who has moved the amendment but I point out that the Australian Labour Party, from the very first day it considered the Richardson committee’s report, and this legislation, decided that the increases mooted for members of the Parliament in both salary and allowances were desirable and that it would be unjust to many members of the Parliament to reject them. Accordingly, it would be equally unjust to postpone them for three years and still leave them, at the end of that period, in a state of disputation.
The only other point I wish to make - it is strictly relevant to the amendment at the moment - is that a bill which provides for substantial increases to Ministers of State has been carried in this place. If the amendment were successful it would mean that substantial increases would be available to Ministers, but that those of ordinary members would be postponed for at least three years. That proposition has only to be stated to be seen as unacceptable to the Opposition.
I take this opporunity, if I may, to say that it has been suggested in this place tonight that there was a sham fight by the Opposition on the Ministers of State Bill. I know that it is not proper for me to embark upon a discussion of that now. I merely indicate thatI shall deal most comprehensively with the suggestion which emanated from one honorable senator, and also the direct charge which emanated from another, at the first appropriate opportunity - which I expect will not be later than to-morrow.
.- I move -
Leave out” March “, insert “ July “.
I need not canvass the reasons for proposing this amendment. They have already been referred to in debate. I only want to add that time after time Budget proposals are brought down for the alteration of pension rates and other social services. Senator Anderson is interjecting. I am prompted by his interjection to say that when we voted on the Ministers of State bill it was quite obvious, with the majority that the Government had, that an amendment such as this would be futile. I must confess that it did not occur to me on that occasion to move for the reduction of Ministers’ allowances so as to bring them into a better proportion with those of private members. If it had occurred to me I should have done so. Therefore, I perhaps did less than my duty, in an absolute sense, although not in a relative sense, as compared with Senator Anderson, whose interjection is responsible for engaging my attention now. If I did less than my duty I shall go to the proper forum to justify myself and admit my deficiencies.
Perhaps I can proceed with brevity to the considerations that should govern members of the committee on this question. I want to put a proposition expressing my view that we are not justified in antedating the effect of a matter of this sort. There is no justification whatever for making 1 st March the date from which these allowances shall begin. I have been impressed by several suggestions advanced by my colleagues, though not on the floor of the chamber, to the effect that the proper date would be 1st July. That view appeals to me. Therefore,I move accordingly.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 11 - by leave - taken together.
Clauses 5 to 10 -
Section six of the Principal Act is amended -
Section seven of the Principal Act is amended -
Section eight of the Principal Act is amended -
Section nine of the Principal Act is amended -
Section ten of the Principal Act is amended -
Sections proposed to be amended -
– I ask for leave to move several amendments, which have been freely circulated over a considerable period, as a single group. They are all directed to the one purpose. They affect clauses 5 to 10.
– I am obliged to the Senate for sparing me the boredom of reading 15 repetitious amendments at separate stages of the committee’s proceedings. Accordingly I move -
That clauses 5 to 10 be amended as follows: -
Clause 5, paragraph (a), omit “ ‘ Two thousand two hundred and fifty’”, insert “‘an amount to be determined by the Governor-General less than Two thousand Two hundred and fifty’”.
Clause 5, paragraph (b), omit “ ‘ Five hundred ‘ “, insert “ ‘ an amount to be determined by the Governor-General less than Five hundred ‘ “.
Clause 5, paragraph (c), omit “‘One thousand ‘ “, insert “ ‘ an amount to be determined by the Governor-General less than One thousand ‘ “.
Clause 6, paragraph (a), omit “‘One thousand five hundred ‘ “, insert “ ‘ an amount to be determined by the GovernorGeneral less than One thousand five hundred ‘ “.
Clause 6, pargraph (b), omit”‘Three thousand two hundred and fifty ‘ “, insert “ ‘ an amount to be determined by the Governor-General less than Three thousand two hundred and fifty ‘ “.
Clause 6, pargraph (c), omit “ ‘ Five hundred ‘ “, insert “ ‘ an amount to be determined by the Governor-General less than Five hundred ‘ “.
Clause 6, paragraph (d), omit “ ‘ One thousand five hundred ‘ “, insert “ ‘ an amount to be determined by the GovernorGeneral less than One thousand five hundred ‘ “.
Clause 7, omit “ ‘ Five hundred ‘ “, insert “ ‘ an amount to be determined by the Governor-General less than Five hundred ‘ “.
Clause 8, paragraph (a), omit “ ‘ One thousand five hundred ‘ “, insert “ ‘ an amount to be determined by the GovernorGeneral less than One thousand five hundred’ “.
Clause 8, paragraph (b) , omit “ ‘ Five hundred ‘ “, insert “ ‘ an amount to be determined by the Governor-General less than Five hundred ‘ “.
Clause 9, paragraph (a), omit “‘Seven hundred and fifty’ “, insert “ ‘ an amount to be determined by the Governor-General less than Seven hundred and fifty ‘ “.
Clause 9, paragraph (b), omit “Two hundred and fifty “, insert “ an amount to be determined by the Governor-General less than Two hundred and fifty “.
Clause 10, paragraph (a), omit “ ‘ Four hundred ‘ “, insert “ ‘ an amount to be determined by the Governor-General less than Four hundred ‘ “.
Clause 10, paragraph (b), omit “ ‘ Five hundred ‘ “, insert “ ‘ an amount to be determined by the Governor-General less than Five hundred’”.
Clause 10, paragraph (c), omit “‘Four hundred ‘ “, insert “ ‘ an amount to be determined by the Governor-General less than Four hundred ‘ “.
The purpose of the amendments is to cut down the amounts recommended in paragraphs 8 and 9 of the summary of the Richardson committee’s report. They deal with allowances and salaries for the President and Speaker, Chairmen of Committees. Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Leaders, the Leader of a third party, and Whips. The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that the Government will look at the tabled figures quoted in each case and revise them with a view to some scaling down, the exact nature of which in all the varied categories we do not attempt to specify. Separate considerations would doubtless apply in respect of each matter.
Of course, the situation has changed somewhat since the passage of the Ministers of State Bill. Standards have been set which must, if the legislation is to stand, influence the remuneration in respect of other positions. However, because of the stand we took in relation to the Ministers of State Bill, we persist with our amendments, recognizing that if certain emoluments are to be made available to senior Ministers, the Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament has work and duties of a nature quite as onerous and, may be, quite as arduous as they have. He must address himself to all the major issues of the day. Accordingly, with a view to registering objection to the extensiveness of the emoluments provided, we propose these fifteen amendments.
– The Australian Democratic Labour Party will vote against all these amendments because, although they whittle down the amounts proposed, they nevertheless support increases - and we are opposed to increases as a whole.
.- Words fail me on this occasion in my attempt to express the subversion of the Parliament that is implied in these amendments. Is it realized and, as a result, presented to this committee by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, himself a man with some constitutional knowledge behind him, that the amendments authorize the Executive of the day to reduce to any figure less than £1,500 - perhaps to £1 - the remuneration of the President of the Senate, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives? Then - and this shows the intelligence of the present Labour Opposition - he invites the Senate to vote for an amendment that confers upon the Liberal Executive the right to reduce to £1, or zero, the remuneration of the Leader of the Opposition in either House!
I should have thought that there was no parallel for assininity in any parliamentary proceedings since the British Parliament was constituted. To think that the leaders of the Opposition should advance a resolution whereby they say to Mr. Menzies and his Government, “ Reduce us to the value that you think we have”! I am not here concerned with the pusillanimous people who put forward a resolution of that sort. Personalities do not matter. This represents the corporate contribution of the Opposition, we are supposed to believe, virtually conceived in caucus. This is the contribution which the Opposition makes to Parliament. It seriously invites us to accept the resolution whereby the remuneration and allowances of two great officers of Parliament - the officers elected by each House to preside - should be in the hands of the Executive. 1 should have thought that that spectacle could never have been dreamed up in the wildest moments of irrationality and irresponsibility. It shows how judgment can be contorted. The leaders of the Opposition who have been before the Richardson committee and who have come under fire in secret caucus, have had to bring to Parliament resolutions for their own sacrifice, saying “ Please Mr. Executive Government, chop my head off “. Well! I should have thought that such an amazing proposition would never have passed through two minds that were worthy of parliamentary preference. 1 turn to something that fell from my own leader. Senator Spooner has suggested that when a government senator has an individual view he should withhold it if it is going to cause him to align his vote with the Opposition. I want to say quite sternly that there have been occasions in this chamber when the majority of Government senators have been against a Government proposal, and Ministers have sought the assistance of the Labour Opposition to pass the measure. 1 refer particularly to a measure which was couched in just the same language as this once - a measure the purpose of which was to allow the Governor-General to fix the salaries of the members of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. I regarded the offices occupied by the members of the Commonwealth Grants Commission - and seventeen other members of the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party sitting in this Senate regarded those offices - as being of such independence and of such a character that the Executive should not have the authority to fix the salaries. On that occasion, despite that expression of opinion, it was good enough for the Government to use the Labour Opposition for the purpose of passing its measure. I do not complain. Parliament is a great institution if the vote goes according to the individual judgment and conscience. But if the
Government can use such assistance, 1 find it not an indignity if I am identified with the same assistance when it coincides with my opinion.
Senator Sir NEIL O’SULLIVAN (Queensland) [11.5]. - I am afraid that Senator Wright’s recollection is not quite clear on this matter. 1 recollect the occasion on which the representative of the Government put the case that the Government was espousing and Senator Wright spoke against it. The Opposition, having heard both, decided that it could not support Senator Wright.
– I must congratulate Senator Wright upon the speed with which he can move from calmness and cold water to heat and hyperbole.
– It must have been something in the water.
– I was looking at it with a querulous eye and, maybe, with an envious one. But I am sure that my fears had no foundation. I am certain that it was cold water. I merely wish to make one observation in relation to the whole matter: I am prepared to believe that everybody in this chamber understands the purport of the Opposition’s amendment perfectly except Senator Wright. I think, also, that everybody will allow me to give to the Liberal Government with which he disagrees - I think with notes of contumely in his voice - more credit for understanding the very reasonable viewpoint put by the Opposition than he is prepared to accord to the same Government.
The suggestion that the Opposition was sponsoring a proposition that would result in the payment of the additional salary of £1 to the Speaker or President is unreal and fantastic. I think that everybody in the Senate, including Senator Wright, will realize that. That would be neither in the thought of the Opposition in this place nor in the mind of the Liberal Government. It is all very well for him to say that it is a possibility. It certainly is, but I think we all concede that it is the rarest form of improbability. The Opposition made it clear from the outset that it presented its proposal in its present form merely as an indication to the Government that a reduction in substance, in the view of the Opposition, was needed. It was presented in that sense and clearly understood by everybody, I think. 1 have no doubt that that was clearly understood by the Government. In those circumstances, whatever some rare mind thinks is not, from my viewpoint, of very grave significance.
– I should like to refer to the position of Senator Marriott with profound apologies to him for needing to do so. But before doing so I want to make the point to Senator Wright that Senator Marriott voted in accordance with the principles for which he stood. He voted in accordance with the arrangement that he announced and he did it without embarrassment to his colleagues. I see nothing wrong in that. I resent this atmosphere that Senator Wright attempts to create in matters such as this. Senator Marriott did nothing that he should have had any reservations about doing. He made his statement as to where he stood and what he was going to do and that is exactly what he did.
Having got that off my chest, I turn to the amendments proposed by the Opposition and I say that the Government is not prepared to accept them. The amendments are not based on logical grounds. The Opposition has voted for the second reading of the bill. The Opposition has agreed that senators and members are entitled to increased remuneration. The Opposition has gone further. It has said by its amendments that the officebearers of the Parliament are entitled to increased remuneration, but that those increases should not be as great as those contained in the legislation. The Opposition, in my opinion, offends in two directions. First, if it believes the remuneration is too high, it should say to what extent the remuneration should be reduced. It is quite wrong, by any standard of approach, to say, “ We believe the remuneration should be reduced, but Heaven help us, we do not know by how much “. The Opposition then takes another step. Having said that it does not know to what extent the remuneration of the officers of Parliament should be reduced, it goes further and says, “ We intend to take this important matter away from the decision of Parliament. We will put it, not in the hands of Parliament, but in the hands of the Executive Government.” I know that in the final result the Government has to accept responsibility, but surely in a matter like this it would be highly improper for the Government to accept responsibility without having the authority of Parliament for its decision.
The Opposition is advancing a proposition. First of all, it agrees with the basic proposals contained in the report. It did not object to the appointment of the committee at the time the committee was appointed. It does not object to major portions of the committee’s report. It accepts the findings of the committee to quite a material extent, but it then discards them in part. It discards them in circumstances which would take the decision away from the Parliament and place it in the hands of the Executive. For the reasons I have stated, the Government is not prepared to accept the amendments.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator McKenna’s amendments) be left out.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid.)
Majority . . 18
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clauses agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) put -
That the bill be now read a third time.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 40
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Senate adjourned at 11.25 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 April 1959, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1959/19590421_senate_23_s14/>.