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Friday, 19 November 1965


Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) (Leader of the Opposition) . - I assure you, Sir, that I shall try to walk the straight and narrow path in debating this legislation. I may wander slightly, with asides, but it will be only passing comment. I hold it as a general principle that all office bearers under the authority of the Commonwealth of Australia should receive a higher emolument than their counterparts in the States. This applies to members of Parliament as well as to judges and public servants who exercise executive authority. Not only does the dignity of the Commonwealth require that this should be done, but also the duties of a holder of high office in the Commonwealth are more onerous, more exacting, more complex and more responsible than those that obtain in the States. And the consequences of the actions of those who exercise authority on behalf of the Commonwealth, and the decisions they make, reach far deeper into the whole nation and affect its destinies to a far greater extent than do actions taken on a purely State level.

The table incorporated by the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden) in his second reading speech shows very clearly the disparity that has risen between the remuneration of State and Federal judges performing similar duties. For instance, the President of the Commonwealth Industrial Court received £8,000 per annum in 1960 and his salary has remained fixed at £8,000 since then. In 1960, the President of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales was receiving £6,500 a year with a tax free allowance of £250. But since 1960, the President of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales has received two substantial salary increases bringing his salary to £8,750 with a £300 tax free allowance. Thus, the New South Wales office now attracts a substantially higher remuneration than its Federal counterpart. The table presented by the Attorney-General shows that this disparity applies also to members of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales when compared with the judges of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Perhaps it is wrong to use the term judges of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. These men do not sit as judges although they were at one time judges. They sit in a different capacity to that of the judges of the Industrial Court.


Mr Snedden - They have the same right, title and style.


Mr CALWELL - I am thankful to the Attorney-General for that interjection. It is competent now for the Commonwealth to appoint people who are not judges to that Commission, I should presume. One does not need to be a judge to be appointed?


Mr Snedden - No. An appointee has to have qualifications for appointment which are the same qualifications as are required for appointment as a judge.


Mr CALWELL - I am grateful for that information, too. The table which the Attorney-General included in " Hansard " shows that the disparity which I have mentioned applies also to members of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales when compared with the judges of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration

Commission. If this Bill simply established the general principle that Commonwealth office bearers should be receiving higher payment than their State counterparts then there would be a case for it. Under the Judiciary Bill, High Court judges will receive an additional £2,000 per annum. The result of the Judges' Remuneration Bill will be that the judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court and the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission will receive a salary increase of £1,500 a year. In the case of High Court judges the increase represent £40 a week. In the case of members of the industrial tribunals the increase represents £30 a week. These increases are in the order of 23 per cent, on existing salaries.

Now I come to the point of our objection: Last August, the judges of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission held that the most the economy could sustain as an additional payment to wage and salary earners of Australia was a margins increase of H per cent. I have - no doubt that the judges of Australia, like the wage and salary earners of Australia, have found the value of their money greatly eroded by inflation over the years. I still think of the promise made by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in 1949 to put value back into the £1. It is because value has oozed out of the £1 that increases in the salaries of members of Parliament, judges and such people have been given over the years. But the workers of Australia were given a margins increase of only lt per cent, last August. Australian wage and salary earners receiver thereby an increase of about 6s. a week.


Mr Griffiths - And the Government immediately put a 2 1/2 per cent, tax increase on them.


Mr CALWELL - I cannot even adumbrate that particular aspect because I would be out of order by so doing. I leave it to the imagination of honorable members, most of whom have fertile imaginations, to see how unjust this situation is. I repeat: The Australian wage and salary earners received from, that decision of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission an extra 6s. a week.


Mr Bury - What have they had since the judges last received a rise?







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