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Thursday, 20 May 1920

Mr NICHOLLS (Macquarie) (2:37 AM) . - I have no desire to take up the time of the House, but I am anxious to record my views on! this important measure. I do not want to go into my electorate, and allow my constituents to believe that I accepted, an increase without desiring to shoulder the responsibility, nor do I want the electors who have supported me in the past, and who may give me their vote in the future, to think that I am anxious to score off the bat of my colleagues, as I have always been in favour of an additional allowance being granted to members of the Federal Parliament. Questions concerning the salary, of members were not addressed to me during the election campaign, and I did not, therefore, make any pledges. But honorable members may rest assured that my constituents could easily imagine that if an opportunity presented itself for me to assist in increasing my remuneration, I would gladly do so. I would like honorable members to realize the position in which some country members are placed. I reside in Bathurst, in my electorate, and have to travel 700 miles each week to and from Melbourne. I cannot do that on less than £4 a week, and only £8 remains to me for the . maintenance of my family, contributions to various charitable calls, and the meeting of other financial obligations. I have a particularly large electorate, in which scores of the centres of population are from 45 to 50 miles from the railway : and as I am expected to "pay periodical visits to all of them, I have to hire motor cars to do so, and with my present allowance cannot give the attention to every individual that T would like to give. I shall vote for the proposed increase, and all my electors would expect me to do so. They would censure me if I did not do so. For ten years I was paid to advocate higher wages and better conditions for the workers, and naturally, when the opportunity presents itself for getting an increase to my own salary, I gladly accept it in justice Cb myself and to my constituents. The Melbourne newspapers have commented strongly on the actions o? those who support the Bill, and in this morning's Age a number of letters of protest are published, signed " Gunpowder," " Pink Pills," " Hot Indignation," and so on. ' I would point out, however, that the proprietors of the newspapers did not consult the public before increasing the price of their journals by 50 per cent., or before increasing their advertising rates by about 200 per cent. The Age, which is particularly loud in its condemnation of the proposal' under discussion, professes to be strongly Protectionist, and yet insists that everything it uses shall be admitted free of duty. Were the proposed increase even larger, I should still vote for it.

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