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Thursday, 20 May 1920

Mr TUDOR (Yarra) .- I expressed my opinion on this subject last week in speaking to the motion submitted by the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford). Although, on the last occasion on which the question of the parliamentary allowance to members was raised, there was criticism to the effect that the proposal was brought forward and rushed right through, the press and others all over Australia, who are opposed to this measure, have had on this occasion at least a week to deal with it. Many persons have assumed that the carrying of the motion of the honorable member for Herbert settled the question. I stated distinctly last week that a Bill would have to be brought forward to give effect to the motion. I also stated, as the Prime Minister has said to-night, that this is not, and cannot in any way be made, a party measure.

Mr Hughes - Or a Government measure..

Mr TUDOR - Or a Government measure. In the division which was taken last week, there were members of the three parties on each side. That is the exact position. No member can be criticised for his , vote by those who were- opposed to him. While I have been in this Parliament, I have never been afraid to give a vote in the way I thought was right. I shall vote for this Bill because I believe that the proposal is right. Since 1907, when the last increase took place, it is only fair to state that there have been five elections in less than ten years, and at each election each member has been out of Parliament for at least six weeks, so that, since 1909, we have been out thirty weeks in all. I believe that it means a loss of salary to each member of £70 or £80 on each occasion. It is not generally known by the people outside that our salary stops immediately the dissolution takes place.

I agree with the Prime Minister that some of the people, if they had an opportunity, would make it absolutely impossible for some of us to come to Parliament. The wages earned by the men in the trade which I followed before I entered this House have more than doubled since I have been here, and the same thing applies to a great number of other trades. Although I am a great deal older than I was when I entered Parliament, I still flatter myself that I have enough skill to go back and earn a few shillings at my old trade, if the people turn me out of Parliament.

Mr Jowett - They will never do that.

Mr TUDOR - Whether they do or not, I have never been afraid to take what I think is the right attitude upon any question, and I have not consulted other people before giving expression to that attitude. I was criticised some time ago, when the Prime Minister and I disagreed upon a certain measure, but the honorable gentleman will bear me out in the statement that the first man in Australia to whom I defined the attitude I would take up on that question was himself. I did not go about, as the papers said I did, waiting for instructions from other people, nor have I waited for instructions on this matter. It is not a party matter. No member is bound, and no bargain has been entered into, so far as I know, between any honorable member of this party and any honorable member of any other party regarding it.

The Prime Minister alluded to a provision in the Bill touching a matter referred to last week by interjection by the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney). That honorable member said then, when I was speaking, that I was the only Leader of an Opposition in Australia who did not obtain an allowance, and I was assured afterwards by honorable members sitting on both sides of the House that they had had an idea for years that the Leader of the Opposition in this Parliament was paid an allowance. That has never been done in this Parliament. I am confident that, although the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) and I disagree on many subjects, he will confirm my statement that the work he did as Leader of the Opposition was greater than he would have bad to do as an ordinary private member. I say deliberately that I shall take the liberty of voting for the salary of £1,000 for members, as proposed by the Prime Minister. I shall not vote on the question of the allowance to the Leader of the Opposition, as I will be the only person affected by it. That will be a matter for the House itself to decide, but I shall vote for the second reading of the Bill, believing that it is a step in the right direction.

When the discussion on the Bill to provide for payment of members took place in the House of Commons, the members of which had never been paid before, one member said, " Why, we will be accused outside of fixing our own salaries." Mr. Arthur Henderson, who, I think, was then the Leader of the Labour party, replied, " Who else can fix them except ourselves?" Why did the framers of the Australian Constitution deliberately allow Parliament to settle this matter for itself ? I did not know all the members of the Federal Convention, but I have a fairly good recollection of its personnel, and I do not think there was one delegate there who was not a member of Parliament. They knew that it was a matter that Parliament should decide for itself, and they deliberately left it for the Parliament to settle. The late Sir George Reid and others who were members of the Convention said in this House afterwards that had the Convention sat later the salary would have been fixed, not at £400, but at the amount which the Prime Minister proposes to-night. As I said the other day, I believe this is a matter which Parliament itself can decide, and the Prime Minister has deliberately thrown on Parliament the responsibility of fixing the salaries to be paid to its members.

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