Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 19 May 1920

Sir GRANVILLE RYRIE (North Sydney) (Assistant Minister for Defence) . - The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) is quite right in expressing the belief that my sympathy is with the rank and file of our military forces, more especially with our returned men. I should be a peculiar sort of man if I had not that sympathy. I realize and recognise, above everything else, that had it not been for 'the loyal support and co-operation they rendered me in the field, I never could have gained those distinctions and honours of which I am so proud. I could not have done what I did but for the magnificent work of these Australian soldiers in the field. I can assure the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, »and honorable members generally, that my experiences in the war have broadened my outlook, if it required broadening, in the direction of taking a democratic view in these matters.

Mr Tudor - It was necessary, politically.

Sir GRANVILLE RYRIE - I do not know that. When I first came into this House I was looked on as one of the " fat squatocracy " of Australia, who had no sympathy at all with working men; but I think that the few years I have been here have dispelled that idea from the minds of honorable members.

Mr West - You have undergone an intellectual re-adjustment.

Sir GRANVILLE RYRIE - Probably that is due to my having listened to some of the speeches of the honorable member. However, I had command of a brigade of 2,000 composed of men of every social grade, every political belief, and every religion; and I know that they were absolutely in loyal co-operation with me; I had the feeling that every one would be prepared to risk his life in order to protect mine. That being so, it is perfectly right to say that my sympathy is with the men of the permanent forces who have been referred to.

A good deal has been made of the assertion that the men of the forces are not to-day receiving a living wage as understood in outside employment. In Australia the pay of the forces has never been equal to wages outside, but the present rate under the new scale, - which is called " Ryrie's rise" or "Paddy's rise," whichever honorable members like - is nearer to the outside living wage than ever before. In no country in the world is the military pay of the permanent forces the same as those engaged in outside occupations ; and there is something to be said in justification of that fact. The pay of permanent military men is for every day in the week, wet or dry, and holidays included - they have a constant job. At the same time, I am prepared to admit that the new scale does not work out to my satisfaction ; but that was not foreseen at the time it was arranged. The Acting Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) has told honorable members of the two advances of £35,000 odd for the purpose of increasing the pay of the permanent forces; and it seems a curious thing, in view of that fact, that according to some honorable members every man is getting less pay than before.

Mr Austin Chapman - Not everybody - not highly-paid officers

Sir GRANVILLE RYRIE - The honorable member suggests that - the highlypaid officers are receiving the bulk of this £35,000 odd'; but he may be surprised to hear that of this amount only £8,000 goes to the officers. I am not speaking merely of the highly-paid officers, but all the commissioned officers ; and this means that £27,000 has gone to the non-commissioned officers and rank and file.

Mr Fenton - How do the numbers of the two classes compare?

Sir GRANVILLE RYRIE - The officers, of course, are fewer in number; but it will be observed that the amount that goes to them is considerably less than the amount given- to the rank and file.

Mr Austin Chapman - What is the percentage of officers?

Sir GRANVILLE RYRIE - I have not that information with me.

Mr Mathews - Is this £35,000 odd an addition to. the pay ?

Sir GRANVILLE RYRIE - It is an increase to that amount over the old scale.

Mr Austin Chapman - There is 5 per cent, of officers.

Sir GRANVILLE RYRIE - I think the percentage is greater ; all officers must be taken into account^ and not only the seniors. I wish to show, further, that this £8,000 has. not gone to the highlypaid officers. The salary of the InspectorGeneral was £1,500; the Chief of the General Staff received a similar amount; and the pay remains the same to-day. A similar remark applies to a great many of the senior officers. I may say that my own brother is one of the officers who might, perhaps, be described as highly paid.

Mr Tudor - Would you call him a highly-paid officer?

Sir GRANVILLE RYRIE - No ; but I am showing that this money has not gone to those who are supposed to be highly paid. The increase in the pay of my brother, who is a temporary LieutenantColonel, is only £25. In face of these facts, it cannot be said that the bulk of the increase has gone to the officers. When the honorable member for Eden- says that there are some men who are getting less pay than before he must be labouring under a delusion.

Mr Austin Chapman - I can prove it, and will give their names.

Sir GRANVILLE RYRIE - The honorable member might prove it in a way, and I shall show how. When the men were in camp as militia, before going to the war, they were put on a war footing as regards pay. To prevent dissatisfaction the whole of the Permanent Forces were given a war bonus to bring their pay up to that of the militia. That state of things' lasted throughout the war, but when the war finished the war bonus 'was abolished, and a committee of officers was appointed to decide what the new scale should be. The Minister for . Defence (Senator Pearce) asked the Cabinet for a certain sum, and this £35,000 odd was granted, the committee of officers being left to work out the details. As I have already said, the scale has not worked out in a way quite satisfactory to myself. £27,000 went to the rank and file and noncommissioned men, but the increase given to the privates, particularly the single men, does not in some cases amount to as much as the war bonus, which has been abolished. On this account they say they are getting less than before, forgetting that they are receiving, in some cases,- 80 per cent, more than in 1914. It is not peculiar to this Government that the pay does not equal the living wage paid out side; but if it be a crime, it is one of which every Government in Australia has been equally guilty. My honorable friends opposite were in power in 1914, when, as 1 say, the pay was 80 per cent, lower than it is to-day.

Let me tell the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) that the proposal for a superannuation fund has not been dropped, because such a fund will be brought into existence, and I hope it will prove satisfactory.

Mr West - There ought to be a superannuation for the whole of the Service, if one is founded for the military.

Sir GRANVILLE RYRIE - Honorable members must consider the general taxpayers as well as the military, and the Government must do its best for the people as a whole. I heard the Prime Minister say the other night that the Acting Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) was not in control of a bottomless financial pit, and that he could not find money where there was none to be had. The proposal to distribute this £36,000 amongst the Permanent Forces was arrived at before my return from the war, and I believe that the committee of officers were perfectly honest in their intention that a substantial rise should be given to the men. The committee of officers who framed the scheme ought to have been able, as experts, to arrive at what was a satisfactory rate of pay for every man.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - The principle laid down was that, the bonus included, every soldier should receive what was the ruling rate of pay outside.

Sir GRANVILLE RYRIE - Quite so. The scheme might not have worked out exactly in that way, but it gives every man what is approximately the ruling rate outside. The pay of the Permanent Forces to-day is. nearer the ruling rate outside than it has ever been before. No married man in the Forces to-day can say that he is getting less than he was receiving during the war. Every man is certainly getting a great deal more than he received in 1914. The lowest rate of increase granted to single men is 40 per cent, in excess of the pay received in 1914. In some cases the increase amounts to 80 per cent. I am sorry that I have not at hand the tables which I have had worked out in regard to the pay of these men; but I can assure honorable members that -the increase, as compared with the rates prevailing in 1914, ranges from 40 per cent, to 80 per cent. The complaint of these men is largely due to the fact that the war bonus has been, knocked off. They had been receiving it for some years, and had come to regard it as part of their ordinary pay. With the re-adjustment, although in some cases they receive 80 per cent, more than they did in 1914, they are paid less than they received during the war, and they, therefore, complain that instead of getting a rise they have been subjected in some cases to a deduction. Having regard to the fact that the Treasurer has not at his disposal an inexhaustible fund, the Government have done everything possible to arrive at a satisfactory solution of this very difficult question. The Minister for Defence and I are discussing a scheme under which something further may be given to married men with families, in the Permanent Forces, and that,s with the superannuation scheme which will certainly be brought in, ought to satisfy the Permannent Forces for the time being.

Suggest corrections