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Tuesday, 1 October 1935

Mr RIORDAN (KENNEDY, QUEENSLAND) .- I do not know whether the additional £1,320 provided for in clause 4 will im prove the efficiency of the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey). While I congratulate him upon his promotion, I take this opportunity to express my disappointment that Queensland should continue to be left with one Assistant Minister as its representative in the Cabinet. With all respect to the Prime Minister I maintain that that State is worthy of better recognition. While I do not consider that the Assistant Treasurer should be asked to hold a full portfolio without additional reward, I am at a loss to understand why the provision of this large sum is necessary ; to effect this promotion should not involve an additional annual expenditure of more than £500 or £600. This bill seeks to bring about an all-round increase to members of the Cabinet. Surely Cabinet Ministers would not claim the necessity for this increase in their salaries arises because of over-work. When the first Commonwealth Ministry was formed, only seven full-time Ministers were appointed. Since then there has been an increase of their number by practically 100 per cent, I realize that the position held by the Assistant Treasurer is a strenuous one, calling upon his full time, and no member of the Cabinet applies himself to his duties more conscientiously than does the honorable member; but Cabinet appointments and emoluments should be above criticism. The introduction of a bill of this kind, however, must inevitably lead to a certain amount of criticism. If an increase of emoluments for Cabinet Ministers generally is justified, the Government should be quite prepared to give reasons why it is proposed. There is a tendency to the belief that because a man is a member of Parliament, he assumes the right to put his hand into the Treasury any time he finds himself short of funds to carry on. There is also a general impression that member of Parliament is fair game in any town through which he may be travelling, for importunity on behalf of race clubs, sporting bodies, and the like. To uphold the dignity of his position entails a good deal of expense. I am and always have been a very solid supporter of any proposal to increase the wages of any section of the community on the ground that the more money distributed to the people, the more prosperous becomes the State. If it is possible to ensure a more equitable distribution of money it should be done.

I should be quite prepared to give my support to this bill if it involved only the provision of additional money for the promotion of the Assistant Treasurer, but I maintain that so long as the promises made by this Government to the invalid and old-age pensioners remain unfulfilled, any proposal for increasing the emoluments of Cabinet Ministers is unjustifiable. Since the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Casey) has been Assistant Treasurer, he has been most attentive to his job. He, unlike some other Ministers, has made it a full-time job. If we are to create confidence in the minds of people generally, we must honour the promises made by governments, whether Labour governments or Nationalist governments, before we incur such additional expenditure as is provided for in this bill. My only regret is that the finances of this country have not yet improved sufficiently for us to redeem our promise to those who suffered so severely under the Premiers plan. When those promises have been redeemed in full, I shall be quite prepared to give my approval to a measure of this kind.

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