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Tuesday, 15 February 2000
Page: 13469

Mr BEVIS (6:00 PM) —The opposition welcomes the Ministers of State and Other Legislation Amendment Bill and will be supporting it. Essentially the purpose of the bill is to facilitate payment of parliamentary secretaries for the very substantial extra responsibilities they bear. Since the office of parliamentary secretary was first established in 1980, the duties which attach to the office have grown significantly. As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration has pointed out in his second reading speech, these include responsibility for handling legislation and taking on statutory and representational responsibilities on behalf of the minister. Parliamentary secretaries also attend to many administrative and departmental matters.

The opposition has been of the view for some time that these additional responsibilities are worthy of financial recompense. The Remuneration Tribunal, in its report of 7 December 1999, recommended that parliamentary secretaries be paid a loading of 25 per cent of their base salary or $22,500 annually. The bill will facilitate this by amending the Ministers of State Act 1952 to enable the 12 parliamentary secretaries appointed under section 64 of the Constitution to be covered by that act. The bill will also increase from $1.622 million to $2.3 million the maximum annual sum for the payment of ministerial salaries, to give effect to the Remuneration Tribunal's recommendation of 7 December.

I might also make a few observations, as a parliamentary secretary in a former government. The development of parliamentary secretaries has seen individuals who hold those responsibilities take on responsibilities in policy and administration in personnel mattersin budgetary terms an area of responsibility that would equate and in many cases exceed the responsibility held by state ministers in many state governments. Parliamentary secretary is an important position. It has aided and assisted both the function of government and the function of parliament and has developed over the last two decades to provide additional services and support in the delivery of programs and in the development of policy. This is, I think, a long overdue alteration. The opposition is happy to see its passage through the parliament. We regard the levels of remuneration as commensurate with the heavy responsibilities of ministers and parliamentary secretaries and support the bill.