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Thursday, 20 May 1920

Mr MAKIN (Hindmarsh) .- It has always been my pleasure and desire to assist in improving the conditions of those with whom I have been associated. When at the bench in the 'workshop, I was always ready to help to improve the conditions of those working with me, as well as my own condition. Whenever the men with me were prepared to take a certain stand, I, like a good Labour man and a good unionist, was ready to take my part, and to steadily support all endeavours to improve working conditions. I shall not take up any other attitude at the present time. When an opportunity affords itself for the improvement of the conditions under which a man labours, he should take it; and I am fortified on this occasion by the almost unanimous opinion of my fellows, who have had many years' experience of public life. It would have been very easy, knowing how the numbers will go, to cross to the other side of the chamber,, and afterwards to accept the increase without bearing any responsibility for it; but, as one who holds to his principles, and wishes to show that he is a man, I cannot accept what I regard as a justifiable increase without shouldering my share of responsibility for it. I cannot see that any offence which it is alleged there may be in, taking J;he increase can be condoned by promising to give part of it to this person or to that. I have as much charity in my heart as the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb), or any other honorable member opposing this measure, and in the Hindmarsh Division there are some very poor persons whom I should like to assist more than I have done; but in. matters of this kind I do not let my left hand know what my right hand is doing, and do not make public what should be regarded as secret and sacred. It pains met to have to criticise a colleague with whom I am frequently associated, and for whose frankness and candour I have a great respect; but when he says that there are persons as capable as the present members who are willing to do our work for the remuneration that we receive; I tell him that he is using what is not the argument of a good unionist. There are always men willing to undercut the man who is called upon to make a sacrifice for the sake of principle, and at times of industrial strife such men are always ready to take advantage of others' misfortunes. But it shall never be said of me that I did so. I have greatly misjudged organized Labour if it is opposed to the action taken by me and my fellow-workers to improve our conditions of life. The honorable member said that we should consider economy, but if he accepts the increase, he does not study economy, whether he uses' the money himself, or pays it away to others ? Therefore, as he is going to be an accessory to the act in accepting the increase, whether it is for his own personal interest or not, he is not immune from the responsibility of the carrying of this mea- sure. If any man in a sphere such as this cannot be of the value prescribed in this Bill to his constituents, there should be no room here for him. How many briefs would those gentlemen who practice at the bar be willing to accept for £1,000? I listened to the speech of my most learned friend the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) the other day in opposition to the proposal. If there is one thing that I should like to see provided in this Bill it is that members shall give their undivided time to the duties of the House. The honorable member tried to lecture m& and others for our intention to vote for the increase, although he and many other members who are adopting the same attitude are willing to supplement their incomes through the medium either of business or professional duties, and, to a very great extent, to absent themselves from the business of this House. I desire always to maintain the highest moral standard in those circumstances of life in which I am placed,, and I want the moral character of the public, life of this country to be beyond suspicion. Those who have to discharge public duties should be placed in such a position as to be able to feel that they are receiving sufficient consideration without being subject to any temptation to do things about which there might be some suspicion. I am prepared to remove every" circumstance which might make such suspicions possible.

I have no recollection of any of those members who are opposing this Bill having asked questions .concerning the urgency of making proper provision for those who carry out the more humble yet important duties connected with the House, whereas those who to-day are advocating the increase in the allowance of honorable members aire the very 'ones who have been most active and energetic concerning the claims of those people, who are certainly underpaid.

Mr Gabb - -This is the third occasion on which I have spoken for them.

Mr MAKIN - But I have not heard the honorable member ask you, Mr. Speaker, what progress has been made. The mere giving utterance to general sentiments does not help towards finality, and' a member who is anxious to do something generally goes to the fountain head to find out what is necessary to be done.

I desire to raise the standard of life and comfort throughout this community and continent. I should like to see. the circumstances and general conditions of life amongst my fellow-countrymen based upon, the same standard as prevails from time to time in the National Parliament which governs them. I want to see a raising of the social status, and it will be my constant endeavour in that way to justify the claim I am now making for extra remuneration foc members of this Parliament. There are some men associated with the duties of this Chamber and with Government Departments who are receiving a great deal" more than honorable members receive. I believe the Clerk of the House receives £1,000 a year.

Mr Hector Lamond - He earns it, too.

Mr MAKIN - I do not dispute it, but he has not the same calls upon his purse that honorable members have. Whilst his position may be one of responsibility, I do not think it is more responsible than ours. The Solicitor-General, the Crown Solicitor, the Federal Statistician, the Secretary of the Treasury, the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs, and the Secretary of the Postmaster-General's Department all receive £1,000 per year each, or more, for the services they render to the Commonwealth. They have permanent positions, and no elections to fight, and have not the same calls upon their purses as we have as members of Parliament.

Mr Jowett - Still, they earn what they receive.

Mr MAKIN - I have never disputed it. I am simply showing that the allowance which members receive to-day, so far from being excessive, is not nearly as much as it should be, and as many believe it ought to be.

There is a number of people in the community who are trying to gain a certain amount of limelight and applause at the expense of honorable members. In South Australia there is a certain cheapjack, by name and nature, who cannot be deemed other than a fanatic in respect to reform, and a much disappointed man in the realms of politics, running about from place to . place trying to cast odium upon members who desire to improve the conditions prevailing here, and to bring them into disrepute with the electors. I have every respect for public opinion, but I do not think the public desire that their servants should be underpaid. When I entered this Parliament I thought I was going to save money out of my allowance. I know that when election time comes there will be calls upon it which will make it less than £12 a week, birt, even then, I thought I would have been able to save. My experience, however, has proved to me that, in many respects, I am not in that position which I should occupy as a citizen and a public man. I find that instead of being able to advance my financial circumstances, unfortunately I am not able to respond to calls upon my salary as liberally as. I hoped to be able to do. I feel sure the people will recognise the justice of the claim, and realize that whilst we are endeavouring to do what we can to improve the general conditions of the community, there is also an obligation upon the people to see nhat the emoluments of their representatives in the National Parliament are in keeping with the imp*ortance of the position.

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