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Thursday, 17 November 1938

Mr WARD (East Sydney) .- I take this further opportunity to protest against the proposal of the Government to vote this additional sum of money to Cabinet Ministers. I think that we should at least have more information as to who is to get the money that is to be provided in the clause before us. The honorable member for Martin (Mr. McCall) said that we were entitled to know what each member of the Government received, and, whether or not we believe that the members of the Government are overpaid collectively, we should, having regard to the respective ability of Ministers, know which of them receives the most, and which the least. Ministers have told us that that is no concern of members of Parliament. I remember recently, when honorable members were trying to get some information from the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) regarding disbursements from the Cabinet fund when the number of Ministers was reduced by one, the Treasurer said that it was not a matter which concerned only members of the Cabinet and not members of Parliament, I believe, on the contrary, that it is the concern of members of Parliament. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) declared - and though this was denied by 'the Treasurer, he did not produce any' evidence to the contrary - that the amount paid to Cabinet- Ministers is approximately £15,000 more. now: than during the. depth of the depression. We must remember, moreover, that this £15,000 does not include the £1,500 which Parliament voted specially for the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) to meet what was considered to be his out-of-pocket expenses for entertainment. Yet the Treasurer says now that going from the Cabinet fund is not only payment for various honorable members of the Cabinet, hut also money for the entertainments given by them. If payment for the entertainment of visitors by honorable members comes out of the Cabinet fund, what does the Prime Minister do with the £1,500 a year which this Parliament voted to him for entertainment purposes in a previous measure ?

It is one thing to say that Ministers are overworked, but it is another thing to prove it to the satisfaction of the honorable members of this House and the Australian community." It could be expected, having regard to the generous way in which Ministers treat themselves to salaries, that they would give their whole time and attention to their ministerial duties, but we find, to our amazement, that, despite the fact that they claim that they are. overworked, most of them have jobs outside Parliament. Some of them are directors of private concerns from which they obtain further emoluments, in order to qualify for which they have to attend meetings. Yet, they tell us that they are overworked. My opinion is that Ministers are paid salaries on such a generous scale that there should be required from them their full time and attention to the business of this Parliament and of the country. Ministerial office should not be treated as a part-time job. One member of the Cabinet, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson), amongst other activities outside Parliament, is a newspaper proprietor. The Treasurer does not devote the whole of his activities to the business of this Parliament and to the work of the Cabinet. He has other activities. I am informed that he is a director of certain companies and undertakings which require some of his time. If I had the time, I could run through the whole Cabinet list and find that all the Ministers have other activities' beside those for which they are liberally .paid by. this country. .

I join with the honorable member for Batman in his protest that, although additional money is being paid to members of the Cabinet, not one pound is available for the relief of necessitous members of the community. The honorable member for Martin (Mr. McCall) compared the salaries paid to Ministers in Great Britain with those paid within the Commonwealth Parliament, but if the honorable member wishes to make comparisons he should compare the amounts of money paid to Commonwealth Ministers with that which is received by his own unemployed constituents. They are deserving Australian citizens who probably have performed much more useful work in their lifetime than have many honorable members of this Parliament. Yet anti-Labour governments say to the unemployed, " Seven and sixpence a week is enough to keep you until we require you to don khaki and take up a rifle. Then, perhaps, we shall give you a little extra ".

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