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Thursday, 20 May 1920

Mr FRANCIS (Henty) .I quite sympathize with honorable members who are crying out for a division to be taken; but it must not be forgotten that since the commencement of the debate there has been a general desire shown from all sides of the House to take part in it; and even at this late hour I feel it my duty to very briefly express my opinion on the measure before us. The Postmaster-

General (Mr. Wise) has given lis the constitutional view in a very clear and decisive way. Honorable members who have read the Constitution know that it is quite within the power of Parliament to raise the allowance or to bring in and pass any measure which the Constitution leaves to its competence. I, therefore, feel that all the arguments that have been used in regard to our constitutional rights represent a waste of time. , I am sorry that the personal, element has been introduced into the debate, along ' with other matters not very pleasing to the House in general. A good deal has been said about " playing the game"; but, so far as I am concerned, I was sent here to represent a Victorian constituency, and, as I said in my maiden speech here, I am responsible to my constituents, and to them only, for the way in which I cast my vote. I am prepared to vote with any side of the House if I consider that the measure proposed is in the interests of the Commonwealth at large. I shall vote against the Bill, because I consider that the arguments in regard to the value of honorable members' services are beside the question, which is really one of method, and the method adopted in this instance, in my opinion, is not a right and proper one. The honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond) has . said that those who vote against the Bill will not be "playing the game" if they accept the increased allowance. We are not quite sure yet as to how the honorable member is going to vote.

Mr Hector Lamond - You need have no fear about that.

Mr FRANCIS - Possibly not on this occasion. But sometimes one listening to' the way in which honorable members discuss a motion may be excused for wondering how they will vote upon it when thetesting time comes. I honestly hold the opinion that the salary at present paid tomembers of this important Parliament is not sufficient ; but that is not the question before us at the present time. Since my election, I have found that it is almost, impossible for me to keep pace with my work as a member and to attend to all the requirements of my constituents. When that can be said by an honorablemember who resides in Victoria, it is easy to understand that it may be much more difficult for honorable members from the other States to cope with their work. I" have told individual members that if any proposal were made to make a special allowance to honorable members coming from the other States to place them on an equal footing with Victorian representatives, it would receive my whole-hearted support. It has been said that we should follow the example of other Parliaments. But we have not to follow the example of other Parliaments in this or in other countries. We have a duty to perform, which, I believe, will be performed by every member of this House, and that is to carry out the pledges which we made to our constituents on the hustings in December last. 1 feel that if the Government in the broad policy they put before the electors had given a hint that they considered it necessary to increase the allowance of members of this Parliament, honorable members could vote for this proposal knowing that they had the sanction of their constituents in doing so. A good deal has been said during the debate about honorable members fearing the consequences of their vote on this question. Young as I am as a member of the House, I wish other honorable members to understand that I am quite prepared to face the consequences of my vote, and to accept the criticism of any constituency in the Commonwealth or of the great newspapers which have been1 referred to here bo-night. I pledged myself to my constituents that I would not vote for an increase of the salary or allowance of members of this Parliament, and I intend to carry that pledge into effect when a vote is taken on- this measure.

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