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Thursday, 13 May 1920

Mr BLAKELEY (Darling) .- I am pleased that this matter has been brought before the House, because I was anxious that honorable members should express their opinions upon it. There are several honorable members who are fortunate enough not to need to bother about what salary is paid to them., but 95 per cent, of us depend exclusively upon our allowance, and our time is taken up in such a way that we are practically prevented from following other businesses which might augment our incomes. In 1916, when I submitted myself for selection for the Darling seat, it cost me £76. The election which followed cost me £270. The 1917 conscription campaign co3t me another £S0. My other visits to the electorate during the two and a half years have cost me another £140. It was not until twelve months after I became a member of this House that I suddenly discovered from my cheque butts that it was a losing proposition for me. I am not at all given to spending money needlessly. Twelve months' experience in the House of Representatives or the Senate makes a man very careful indeed. But notwithstanding how careful one might desire to bo, I cannot go into my electorate under a cost of £8 to £10 a week. That is what it generally' costs men to go into the country electorates. The Darling electorate covers an area of about 53,000 square miles. My work in the electorate itself during the two and a half years, including the expense of preselection, cost me £566, apart from any expenses I incurred in visits to Melbourne during the same period. My total receipts during the period were £1,563, giving me a net income of £997 for the whole of last Parliament, and had it not been for a fortunate occurrence by which a syndicate in which I was interested drew £1,200 in a Tattersalls sweep, my share after taxes had been paid amounting to £350, I would not have been in a position to pay my election expenses. I I'.ad to go into debt to carry on the campaign, and I had not quite cleared that debt when the last election was held, and again I had to seek means other than my parliamentary allowance to fight the campaign.

Mr Gibson - Not through Tattersalls again ?

Mr BLAKELEY - Unfortunately, something seems to have gone wrong with Tattersalls since then.. Two cases have come under my notice recently relating to members of .the Federal Legislature. One is that of a man who had been in State and Federal Parliaments for twenty-seven years, and in the other case the period of service has been twentyfive years, and had they not succeeded at the last election they would have had to seek employment at their former trades. That would have been a tragedy after they had given the best of their lives to the service of the State. I hope that at the end of twentyseven years, if my parliamentary career lasts so long, I shall not be in the same position as they occupied. I have not the slightest doubt that there will be columns of economy preached to honorable members by the "newspapers. "We, unfortunately, are not in the same position as are newspaper companies; we cannot without reference to anybody else increase our salaries by 100 per cent., as the newspaper proprietors have recently increased the price of newspapers. It may be truthfully said by them that, whereas printing paper cost from £11 to £13 a ton in 1914, to-day it costs £80 per ton, and that in order to keep their newspapers going the proprietors must increase the price. It may be that some of the fair-minded newspapers will point also to the enormous increase in the cost of living and of boot3 and wearing apparel. The cost of the suit of clothes I am wearing has increased over 100 per cent, in five years. Similar increases have taken place in the prices of all the things we consume and wear. I am mot at all concerned with what the press may say about me in this regard. There seems to be an unfortunate curse placed upon those who oppose increases in salaries. .So far as I can learn, there are left in the two branches of this Legislature only two of those who voted against the last increase in salary. It appears that the people do not regard with favour men who oppose legitimate increases in. the payment for services rendered. The honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Bell) has declared that he i3 not yet in a position to say whether or not £600 per annum is sufficient. I am positive that within twelve months, irrespective of the fate of this motion, the honorable member will know definitely that this is .not a payable billet. My parliamentary position will not return me more than £270 per annum, but I was receiving £325 before I entered this House. Recently the jurymen in New South Wales asked for an increase from 8s. to £1 ls. per day. Everybody is asking for more pay. We are moving in. a vicious circle, and I hope that' the Parliament of this Commonwealth will not 'be at the tail end of the circle. I have in this House advocated the fair payment of the servants of the Commonwealth. As an official of the Australian Workers Union, and prior to becoming an official, I have always advocated fair payment for services. To-day I am advocating the same thing for my parliamentary colleagues and myself. I believe that the Commonwealth can afford to pay its members, and that it should do so. It is not right that any man should be merely existing; but a member who receives only £600 per annum, and has to travel between his State and Melbourne, and from his home to his electorate, cannot possibly do more than exist.

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