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Wednesday, 8 September 1920


That the word " be " be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words " not exceed one thousand ".

There is a wide feeling throughout the community that there are too many high salaries paid in Australia. I regret that I cannot place my hand on an answer that the Treasurer. (Sir Joseph Cook) gave to a question I asked on 12th May, as to the number of salaries in the Commonwealth Service of £750 and upwards. However, if my memory serves me aright, I was informed that there were only five salaries of £1,500, and, strange to say, they were in our most expensive Department, namely, that of Defence. I am under the impression that the Admiral, with allowances, draws more than £1,500 a year, and if that be so, then the answer that the head of the Department supplied to the Treasurer was not accurate; in other words, he did not supply information concerning salaries above that amount.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - There are several officials getting more than £1,500.

Dr MALONEY (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) - I am not blaming the Minister. The wrong information may have been due to a misunderstanding in the Department; at any rate, I am sure the Treasurer himself would not lend himself to such a thing. I move the amendment because I object to this appointment.; and the fact that I do not know who is to be the Arbitrator shows that I have no animus against any particular person. In any case, I maintain that from this time forth no salary of more than £1,000 per annum should be paid without the permission of the people who have to find the money. In a Democracy the people ought to have a voice in a matter of the kind; and that would not necessarily mean continual referenda. If a Government knew that it could not appoint men above a certain salary, unless the appointment and the salary were indorsed at the next election, it would frequently hesitate before expending large sums in the way we experienced during the war. During thirty-two years in the Swiss Republic, where the compulsory referendum is the law, there has been such an appeal only about once a year on the average, and the expense is a mere bagatelle. . We call Australia a Democracy, and yet the people are absolutely helpless and hopeless in such matters ; and as this appointment is for seven years, they will not be able to exercise much power if they desire to remove the Arbitrator. There is one danger, and that is that the public servants themselves have a certain remedy in their hands, and, if they do not get justice, they will not confine themselves to the Court. If the public servants were to do this, I am sure there are honorable members here who would be prepared to support them in seeking redress of a real grievance.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - But £1,000 a year is only as much as the honorable member gets !

Dr MALONEY (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) - Quite true and it is quite time we made thework of legislation the highest profession in Australia, for there is nothing that so vitally affects the welfare of every man, woman and child in the community as the laws made by Parliament. Then, again, members of Parliament have to go before their creators at least every three years, though personally, I have for the last thirty years given my constituents the power to remove me at any time on petition, if they so desire. The Minister in charge of the Bill (Mr. Groom) will agree that there is a difference betwen a man who is appointed for seven years and has not to appeal to the people who pay him, and men who have to appeal to their constituencies at comparatively short intervals. If I am any judge of Australians there is a deep feeling permeating the community, in consequence of the increasingly high cost of living; and they are getting tired of present arrangements. If they follow the advice of the Nationalist party in Victoria, at all events, or the advice of the Labour party, and the advice of th& Age, which advocates tlie referendum, initiative and recall-

The CHAIRMAN" (Hon. J. M.

Chanter). - The honorable member is getting away from the question.

Dr MALONEY (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) - Such a salary would not be paid to this Arbitrator or any other man if the people outside had a voice in the matter, and the only way the people can exercise a voice is by the referendum. I trust the amendment will be carried.

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