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Thursday, 20 May 1920

Mr GABB (Angas) .- In rising to oppose this Bill, I feel that I am in a somewhat difficult position, since I am taking up a stand different from that adopted by the members of my party. The position of a member who is in and about the House three or four days every week is not very easy when he is up against a hostile Government, discovers that members on the other side are also, to a certain extent, hostile, and, on entering his own party room, finds that he holds a- view different from that entertained by his fellow members on a question which, to say the least, deeply affects them.

Mr Tudor - The honorable member, like every one else, is entitled to his own opinion.

Mr GABB - Thank you.


Mr Blundell - Will the honorable member take the increased allowance if the Bill is passed?

Mr GABB - I shall deal with that point. I am by no means a wealthy man, so that the taunt which has been hurled at opponents of this Bill who arc possessed of wealth cannot be applied to me. I am, comparatively speaking, a poor man, dependent upon my allowance as a member of Parliament for the sustenance of my family and myself. As to the question put to me by the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Blundell), I may say at once that I shall draw the increased allowance, but that not one penny of it will go to benefit me, my wife, my children, or any of my relatives.

Mr Hector Lamond - The honorable member will just use it to sweeten his electors !

Mr GABB - If the honorable member will be good enough to let me measure my corn by my own bushel, and not by his, I shall be much obliged.

Mr Hector Lamond - I should have to pay too much for it.

Mr GABB - The honorable member changed his political coat in order to remain in politics, and I do not want such interjections from a man who has done that. I do not intend, as he says, to use this extra £400 a year to sweeten my electors. In respect of the first two or three months it will go to the widow of Emil Roesler, to whom the Government, in my opinion, owes at least six months' salary, in lieu of the six months' leave that was due to Roesler before he was interned. He died in the internment camp.

Mr Blundell - 'Will that not be sweetening up your electors, who are nearly all Germans?

Mr GABB - If, in the opinion of the honorable member for Adelaide, it will have that effect, I can only say that he is a good judge of ulterior motives. I leave the matter at that.

Mr Blundell - The honorable member is going to use the money to sweeten up the Germans in his electorate.

Mr GABB - The Government put the late Emil Roesler into the internment camp, where he died, and since he had been in the Public Service for thirty years, and had six months' leave due to him, the Government should have granted his widow an amount equal .to the salary which he would have drawn in respect of that period. The Government have declined to do so, and as the chance comes to me to make good that amount by giving this Government money to the widow I shall do so. After that, if I know of any case of destitution on the part of Australian-born Germans who have been interned I shall use the increased payment to assist them, because this Government has refused to do so. If I know of any such cases of destitution, I am prepared to give something to assist, and, after that - and this is where the bulk of the money will go - I shall hand it either to the South Australian Labour party or the Daily Herald, whichever I think the more needy or deserving. I will bring the receipts for this money, month by month, and hand them to the secretary of the Australian Political Labour party, whoever he may be at the time.

In my opinion, it is unwise to make this increase, because we in this Parliament have said that there is need for economy at the present time. The other day the Acting Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook), when we were asking for a little extra help for returned soldiers, pleaded the necessity for economy, but now the same honorable gentleman, and the Government, are prepared to spend another £44,000 a year on the salaries of honorable members. The Government preach economy when the necessity for telephone lines and other public utilities are proposed; but under pressure of honorable members they have allowed economy to go to the four winds of heaven; with indecent haste they have introduced the Bill in order that the parliamentary allowance may be augmented. The proposal is unwise, not only because it is a discouragement to the practice of economy, but also because it is an encouragement to those in Government employ to act likewise. Perhaps I am not correct in saying that, because, as & matter of fact, if Government employees acted in a similar way they would be sent to gaol. If our salaries are increased, it will be perfectly justifiable for public servants, whose wages afford a bare livelihood for themselves and families, to come, as they doubtless will, and rightly, and endeavour to have them increased. Further, this proposal is unwise because it will encourage the community to do as it is proposed we shall do - whenever they think they ought to have increased payment, to take it. Nearly every honorable member opposite condemned the engineers for striking; but what was that strike compared with the attitude of some of those honorable members now? This Parliament is set up before the people as an example - that is, if they want anything and can get it, they should take it, regardless of the fact that, as has been said in the course of this debate, it savours of " sharp practice." Honorable members opposite can now have nothing to say- against any unionist who takes direct action in order to increase his wages. Then, the proposal is unwise, because it is belittling the political world. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) the other day had a " shot " at the newspapers of this State, and told them that when they held up politicians to ridicule, they were assisting to overthrow political institutions. Not all that the Melbourne press has written in. twelve months could make political institutions stink in the nostrils of the people more than does the proposal of the Government to-night. It would have been altogether wrong for me to support this Bill, considering that, in my maiden speech here, I contended that what is necessary, if we are to solve the problems ahead, is sacrifice on the part of the whole community. That opinion I. still hold; and the proposal before u3 is certainly no encouragement to sacrifice. My next objection to this so-called "salary grab" is that it is unfair. "We are public servants, and there are other public servants; there are employees in this House who are paid £3 lOs. a week, which is insufficient to enable a man with a family to make ends meet. Honorable members have spoken on behalf of these employees, and weeks ago asked that their wages should be increased; but no increase is as yet forthcoming. If it is just that we who are receiving £12 a week should have our salaries increased, it certainly is not fair that those public servants should have to wait week after week-

Several honorable members interjecting,

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