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Thursday, 20 May 1920

Mr MARR (Parkes) (2:45 AM) .- As a new member, I felt that this' was a difficult problem, and would not have risen to speak to-night had it not been for the way in which this Parliament has been abused by the press of Melbourne. Since Federation became an accomplished fact, the Melbourne newspapers have done nothing to build up an Australian sentiment. All they care for is to get benefits for Victoria. For eight years I was secretary to a union, and had to travel about through the States, and I know that immediately prior to Federation the Victorian Public Service was the worst paid in Australia; but when it was seen that Federation would come about, and that the Commonwealth would have to pay the salaries of the Departments transferred to it, the wage of the Victorian officials was made equal to the maximum paid in any State. Then, prior to Federation, there was 2d. postage in this State, the postage in the other States being Id., and, on the motion of Mr. Isaacs (now Mr. Justice Isaacs), Victoria was given Id. postage immediately before Federation. The newspapers applauded these things. As for the attitude of the honorable member for Fawkner, every member must speak in accordance with the dictates of his conscience. I agree with him that we should consult our constituents, and in the short time at my disposal I have consulted all of my constituents whom I could see. They happened to be five members of this Parliament, and they unanimously instructed me to vote for the Bill, I have not been here long, yet I think that members should be paid by results; and much of what I have heard during the past fifteen or sixteen hours bears out my view that the Capital should speedily be moved to Canberra. When Parliament meets there, members will have to devote all their time to the business of the country. It is to the interest of the country that we should have professional men, like the honorable member for Fawkner, in Parliament, and all shades of opinion should be represented, but members should give the whole of their time to their parliamentary duties. My electorate is numerically the largest in the Commonwealth, having 73,000 electors on the roll. They, at present, pay me 2d. per head per annum, and when this increase is given they will have to pay me 3¼d. a head, an increase of l¼d. Should any of them object to pay this extra lid., I shall be prepared to refund it to them. I do not agree that members from other States should receive £100 per annum as travelling allowance. That amount would not pay one's travelling expenses upon the train. I am not prepared to sit in the express with a bottle of ginger beer and a bag of biscuits, to chew my way across to Melbourne. Honorable members know how often they entertain constituents here, and that sometimes they are asked to escort the wives of some of their male constituents back to Sydney. All such obligations as these add to one's expenses. There is a deal of physical wear and tear in constant travelling. The responsibilities of attending the sittings of the Federal Parliament have caused the death of probably more members than has been the case in any other Parliament in the world. The atmosphere here is about the most unhealthy that representatives from other States could be called upon to endure. I do not consider that a New South Wales member, or the representative of a division in any of the other States, has more right to claim travelling allowances than a member from a Victorian country electorate. The latter is compelled, just as are members from other States, to practically keep two homes going. I have had no opportunity to undertake private business since my return from the war. It . would be impossible for me to live upon my parliamentary salary, and I intend to take every opportunity available to augment it from other sources of activity. Since my election five months ago my bank balance has depreciated by a matter of £260. I have already told some of my constituents that they will have to look for another candidate at the next general election. If my constituents are not prepared to indorse my action in endeavouring to secure better remuneration, they are very welcome to send some one else here to represent them. The only press opposition, so far as I know throughout Australia, has come from two of the Melbourne newspapers. The Herald has looked upon the proposition from a very fair viewpoint, and newspapers in other States have acknowledged that members of Parliament are entitled to a higher remuneration than they have been receiving.

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