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Tuesday, 1 October 1935

Mr MARTENS (Herbert) .- The evasive answers that. Ministers have given to the questions that we have asked on the clause satisfy me that more money is being asked for than is required. I do not quibble at the salaries paid to Ministers; I take the attitude adopted on a former occasion by the Melbourne Herald that the least Cabinet should have done was to include in the budget speech references to the increase in the salaries of members and the bill for the increase of allowances to Ministers. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) practically admitted to-day that the bill would provide more money than was needed to raise the salary of the Assistant Treasurer to the level of the salaries of full Cabinet Ministers. I am notcavilling at the work Ministers do or at the salaries to which they feel they are entitled; but this legislation does not reveal what the Government intends to do. The statement of the Minister for Trade and Customs had only one meaning - that Ministers desire to restore their salaries to the level of a considerable time ago. I do not believe that Ministers or members receive the allowances to which their services entitle them. But over and above the extra payment that will be made to the Assistant Treasurer will be an amount sufficient to increase the salaries of the other members of the Cabinet by between £50 and £100 a year. I object to the doing of this by an indirect method. That is not an honest way for the Government to act. I will support any amendment moved in opposition to it, at least until a satisfactory explanation is given of the real intentions of the Government.

Mr. ARCHIECAMERON (Barker) rs. 17]. - The only ground on which the Opposition can criticize the Government for having introduced this bill is that of the necessity for the change. Is it necessary at present to appoint a tenth Minister with full cabinet rank? The committee has already, without division, agreed to clause 3, which provides for such an appointment. There is thus an obligation on it now to provide a salary for him. The Opposition, in effect, desires a Cabinet of ten full Ministers te work for an amount very little in excess of that voted previously for a Cabinet of nine Ministers. The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens) claimed that provision should have been made in the budget for this extra money. As I understand the law, ministerial allowances are not provided for in the budget, but by a special act.

Mr Martens - I did not say that.

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