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Thursday, 4 October 1984
Page: 1190

Senator JESSOP(11.43) —I want to speak briefly to the schedule of the Bill and refer to my concern that salaries of statutory officers and public servants should be increased at a time when the rest of the community is expected to exercise some restraint. The Government has claimed credit for a reduction in inflation simply because it has followed the policy that was established by the Fraser Government is suggesting that a wage pause should persist. I register an objection to the fact that we have set up an elitist section of the community that will be provided with an 11.7 per cent salary increase from 1 January next year. I have no quarrel with providing additional allowances or travelling expenses which are necessary, but I object quite strongly to the fact that while the rest of the community is expected to exercise restraint-as have members of parliament and others-we are providing statutory officers and heads of department with considerable salary increases.

The numbers of people involved extend from page 105 to page 184 of the Remuneration Tribunal 1984 Review. This represents a considerable number of people at a considerable cost to the Government. I cannot let this go by without saying that I had in mind to move that the Senate disapprove these salary increases because they are unfair to the rest of the community. The Australian Council of Trade Unions and others may well bring pressure to bear on the Government to concede to them the same sort of treatment that we are meting out to the people referred to in the Tribunal report.

I believe that the Government should have another look at the Remuneration Tribunal, its cost to the community and its effectiveness. Time and again we in this Parliament have rejected the recommendations of the tribunal. It seems to me that we should return to a sensible situation in which we make a determination in respect of parliamentary salaries, for example, to tie them to a division of the Public Service. When the economy permits salaries should all go up together in a responsible way, rather than isolate tribunal determinations in respect of members of parliament and others referred to in this review. I register that disapproval personally. This view is held by a number of people throughout the community and I suggest that the Government give some consideration to reviewing the whole question of the existence of the Remuneration Tribunal from now on.