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Thursday, 21 May 1970


Mr DALY (Grayndler) - The main purpose of the Bill is to amend and revise the Second Schedule to the Parliamentary Allowances Act 1952-68. At present an electoral allowance of $2,750 is paid to a member of the House of Representatives whose electorate is classified as city and $3,350 per annum to a member whose electorate is classified as country. The Second Schedule of the Act, which it is proposed to amend, lists electorates for which the lower or city rate is to be paid. Other electorates not listed are all paid at the country rate. The amendments are made necessary because of changes made to the electorates following the redistribution of boundaries in 1968. At that time some electorates were abolished, new electorates were created, names were changed and the character of some electorates was altered.

The amendment to the Second Schedule takes account of these changes according to the Government's interpretation of city and country electorates. .1 again mention according to the Government's interpretation of city and country electorates', lt is stressed, however, that the amendments do not provide for any change in the base rates- $2,750 city and $3,350 country - or the classification pattern which remains unchanged and which was established by the salary committees of inquiry of 1952, 1955 and 1959. The Bill provides for an increase in the electorate allowances for senators of $100 per annum to the city rate of $2,750. I might mention, to summarise that aspect of the legislation, that a reduction in allowances is brought about by listing 71 instead of 61 electorates in the Second Schedule. Because of the amalgamation or abolition of electorates in the old schedule and the creation of new electorates there are 20 electorates in the new schedule which were not in the old one. Therefore, the Bil) would reduce by $600 the allowances received since the election by the members for just on 20 electorates. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard a list of these electorates:

I thank the Minister for the Army (Mr Peacock) who is at the table. The electorates which are to be eliminated are, I. stress, amongst the areas with the highest rate of growth in the various States in which they are located. In other words, they are the electorates where it may be expected that the greatest growth in population will come, yet, the electorate allowance has been taken from their representatives under this new proposal.

In addition to the matters I have mentioned the Bill clarifies the provisions of the Act in regard to the limits for this time during which both allowances in the nature of salary and electorate allowance are payable to members and senators. Clause 3 inserts a new section specifying, for the purpose of paying allowances, 'the day of election' is polling day, or when there is no poll, the day the result is declared. Thi: has applied to parliamentary allowances for many years. The Bill, as the Minister for the Army has said, confirms tha existing practice. Secondly, following the redistribution of 196S attention was drawn to the term 'successor' and to doubts arising in cases of changes of boundaries as to the identity of each successor. This doubt is removed by amending clause 5 to ensure that a member will be paid his allowance until the day before the day of his reelection or if he is not re-elected the day before polling day. Those, broadly, are the terms of the legislation under discussion.

The Opposition does not oppose the Bill. I say so somewhat reluctantly because, as I shall explain later, I believe electorate allowances for all members of this Parliament are completely inadequate in view of the changes that have taken place. The fact that we do not oppose the Bill, though, should not be taken as an indication that we are satisfied with its provisions or that it is not subject to a very critical analysis for a number of good reasons. The measure, of course, being a money Bill cannot be amended at this stage in the Parliament. I shall outline our reasons for this approach as the debate proceeds. I say at this stage that it is the considered opinion of the Opposition that the amendments proposed are based on guesswork. They reveal no sound basis in support of some of the changes and the time is long overdue for a thorough, searching survey into the basis of the allowances with the object of establishing a more equitable and just basis to enable members and senators - city and country - to fulfil their parliamentary and electoral responsibilities effectively.

The present Schedule of the Act includes the names of 61 electorates, for which allowances at the city rate of $2,750 is payable. The new Schedule totals 71 - an increase of 10. This means that there has been a saving in allowances of $600 per annum in 10 electorates or, $6,000 in all by transferring 10 electorates from the country to the city. The number of country electorates, excluding a newly created seat, has been reduced by 10, balancing the saving. For the information of the House I quote figures given to me by the Prime Minister's Department. They show that the expenditure under the old Act for city electorates, country electorates and senators was $537,800. The amount under this proposal is exactly the same, with the addition of 1 country seat, which means an extra $3,350. In other words it is given with one hand and taken away with the other. With the concurrence of honourable members, I incorporate these details in Hansard:

 

The number of country electorates, excluding a newly created seat, has been reduced by 10, as I stated, balancing the saving. I might say that senators have been granted an extra $100 per annum to bring them into line with the city rate of $2,750. This means that with 60 senators the total additional payment for senators, by a remarkable coincidence, is exactly $6,000 per annum - the exact amount saved by increasing the number of city seats under the Act from 61 to 71, mainly in areas which have the most rapidly increasing population in Australia. In other words, the increase to the senators has been made possible at no cost to the Government. I congratulate the Treasurer (Mr Bury) on his ingenuity in this matter. But the increase is actually subsidised by reducing the allowances paid to members of the House of Representatives, many of them, I repeat, in the fastest growing areas on a population basis in Australia.

This proves beyond doubt that the Government has no sound basis for the classification of electorates. It has been carried out by a system of eeny, meeny, miney, mo or you stay in or out you go. It is as simple as that. That is the basis of the Government's policy generally, and it has carried it through to the electorate allowances. No amount of argument by the Minister can prove the contrary. The figures which were provided to me by the Prime Minister and which I have had incorporated in Hansard prove the point I have made, lt is a juggling system based on guesswork. As I say, it is a system of eeny, meeny, miney, mo. Whilst agreeing that under the present legislation an amendment may be necessary, it should be on an equitable and proper basis and should not be done by subterfuge and juggling as has been done in this case.

The simple procedure adopted by the Government to provide for the senators was that when they were $600 short some electorates were classified on a catch as catch can basis as city electorates in order to balance the budget. I will be very surprised if senators are happy to find that, representing a whole State as they do, they are now worth only the allowance of an inner city member, which is the lowest possible rate in the nation. As the Act stands at present, because of redistribution, it includes names of electorates that have been abolished in the second schedule such as Dally and East Sydney in New South Wales and does not include other newly created seats such as Berowra and Cook in NSW or Holt in Victoria, just to mention a few. The position is similar in most States.

This means that under the Act, as it stands at present, some members representing city electorates are being paid the country allowance pending the amendment to the Act. Somewhat regretfully I say today that when this Bill goes through my colleague the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Cope) will be about $50 a month worse off under the juggling system. I do not think that gentleman can afford such a reduction because he has a big electorate and is a very active member. This indicates the suffering that will be caused in respect of this matter by the Government's process.

This applies to some newly named or created city seats in all States such as Sydney and Berowra in New South Wales.

The members in these electorates are in fact being overpaid what is due to them as an electorate allowance, and will continue to receive their present allowance until the Act is amended. But on the brighter side, let me say that there is no requirement that they refund the extra amount. This would appear to make the amendment desirable, depending on how it is looked at. But at the same time it raises the question: Is a new method of classification desirable and overdue? Are wide open spaces and distances such as those represented by the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) to be the only criteria for deciding the allowance, or should it be based on a population or some other basis?

One may well pose this question: Is not representation of people just as expensive in heavily populated city electorates as in sparse and far flung country areas? I do not say that this is necessarily the case, but at least it is worth a full and complete investigation. Let me briefly state the history of the electorate allowance. The Nicholas Committee reported on parliamentary allowances in 1952. On page 12 of its report, it said:

We recommend that each senator and each representative receive an allowance of £1,750 per annum, an addition of £250 per annum to the allowance at present received; litis sum to be liable to a statutory deduction in respect of the weekly contribution to the member's retiring allowance fund and to income tax. We further recommend that each member receive an annual sum not liable to taxation or to statutory deduction which would supersede any deduction for expenses now made by the Commissioner for Taxation. In the case of a senator we recommend that the sum payable be £550 per annum. In order to determine the tax free amount to be paid to a member of the Mouse of Representatives we recommend that electorates be divided into 5 groups and (hat each member bc paid the amount tax free set out below, opposite the number of the group in which his electorate is included.

Il then listed 5 groups, and the allowances ranged from £400 to at that time to £900. Then it said - and I do not think the senators could have been happy with this:

We formed the opinion that a senator, although he represents the State as one electorate, is not faced with the same calls nor is he so closely in contact with his constituents as a member of the House of Representatives.

I quote that in connection with the commencement of the electorate allowance. The

Richardson Committee in 1956 brought down further recommendations in respect of this matter. It said:

We consider that all members representing country electorates should be paid the same rate of electorate allowance.

In other words, it divided them into city and country. The report goes on:

We feel that senators are in an intermediate category and a separate recommendation is made in their case.

That is when the senators came within the scope of the Act. The report goes on:

The Nicholas Committee accepted a division of electorates identical with that compiled after detailed investigation by the Commissioner of Taxation. This Committee considers that all group 1 electorates (see Appendix b) should at this stage be regarded as city electorates and all others as country electorates. The redistribution of electorates may affect this classification.

In other words it divided them into city and country on facts or figures provided by the Commissioner of Taxation. Because that Committee did not believe in tax-free allowances, the allowances paid to members became officially known as 'electorate allowances'. In 1959 the Richardson Committee fixed new figures for the allowances. They recommended that senators should be paid £700 per annum, members for city electorates £600 per annum, and members for country electorates £800 per annum. In the course of its report the Committee said:

The 1955 Committee considered that no section of the community should receive as an allowance for expenses any sum which was statutorily exempt from tax, and recommended that, in addition to the basic salary of £2,350 to be paid to each senator and member, electorate allowances should be paid ...

It is interesting to see what these electorate allowances are supposed to cover. In its report the Richardson Committee said:

The Electorate Expense Allowance is designed to reimburse a member for outgoings necessarily incurred in the performance of his duties as a member and which are not otherwise specifically provided for.

It said that the allowance should cover, for instance, postage. The postage expenses of all members is now practically double what it was then because of the number of electorates plus the number of requests that are made. But that is one expense that must be covered. Politicians must be the only section of business representatives in the world who pay for their own postage. The better the member you are, the more letters you write and the less salary you are working for.

Then the Committee said that travelling within an electorate should come within the scope of the allowance. A city member uses his own car, public transport or hire cars and taxi cabs. A country member, the report says, necessarily uses his own car. I will not go into all the other expenses that are supposed to come out of his electorate allowance. According to the Committee, it is supposed to cover donations and subscriptions. The 1955 Committee said that this was a big part of a member's expenditure and that in many cases it amounted to political blackmail. Then a member is expected to pay for telephone rental and local calls from his own home out of this allowance. The Committee said that in the case of country members the allowance should cover travelling expenses and accommodation during trips within the electorate. Every body admits that this is a big item in the yearly budget of a country member. Then the Committee referred to members who desire to visit the Territories. Members may visit the Territories once every three years, but a trip to New Guinea is a pretty costly one to meet out of one's own pocket.

The electorate allowance of $2,750 not only has to cover every aspect of electoral representation within an electorate; it also must be used to gain information about the multiplicity of problems of which parliamentarians are expected to have knowledge today. Entertainment expenses are included in the electorate allowance, amongst other things, but election expenses are not included. In this respect the report stated:

The expense of conducting elections is a necessary incident of a Member's employment. It occurs at least every third year; it is (within certain limits) allowed by the Commissioner of Taxation as a statutory deduction; it causes many Members to get into debt; and it might be considered that provision for it should be included in the amount of the expense allowance. We have felt unable to adopt this view, because it is wrong in principle that a silting Member should have his election expenses paid out of the public purse, while his opponents enjoy no such advantage.

I repeat that this allowance does not include election expenses, which undoubtedly are a big item. The committee went on to say:

The rates which we recommend are in our opinion no more than sufficient to ensure that Members shall have available for the maintenance of themselves and their families, for the upkeep of their homes, for the education of their children, and for other outgoings normally paid by persons in private employment out of their remuneration, the full amount of their parliamentary salaries (less, of course, the compulsory Retiring Allowance contributions).

Broadly, that is the history of this Act. Further on this report states:

These rates also should enable Members to undertake service on parliamentary committees and visits to Territories and developmental projects, which at present are denied to many of them simply because they cannot bear the expenses involved. In short, we believe the recommended rates would help Members generally to do a better job for the community.

That is a rather extensive outline of the matter we are debating today. I ask any honourable member representing a city electorate whether, in all fairness, he can run his car, do all the things I have mentioned, see the Territories and give effective parliamentary representation with an allowance of $2,750. At the same time I ask country members whether their allowance pays much more than the cost of replacing a car, plus the running costs involved over a period. True it is that one can get deductions for certain things if you keep a note of every item. But when you are buying a beer in a soldiers club how can you jot down 15c or 20c every time you put your hand in your pocket?

I think it is generally agreed that the allowance is inadequate. I am surprised that the Government did not look into this when it thought of the new responsibility. One fact stands out from these reports, that is, that there is no such thing as an official definition of a country electorate. One may surmise or take for granted that areas such as the electorates of Kalgoorlie, Darling, Mallee and Kennedy would fit into the average person's idea of a country electorate. But what of some electorates on the fringe of the cities which are half and half such as Werriwa, Cunningham and Prospect in New South Wales, and others of a similar nature in other States? Your guess is as good as mine as to whether they are country or city electorates. There is room for differences of opinion. It may well be that the basis for the payment of an electorate allowance should be population, with special consideration being given to members with huge areas and distances to cover in the form of an extra travelling allowance or some other allowance. Perhaps the electorates should be divided into several categories as they were in the first place, such as inner city, urban, inner country area and far flung country districts.

Another fact stands out. No member of Parliament or senator should be placed at a financial disadvantage simply because he does his work diligently and effectively. The present system does not remove this disability. The redistribution of Federal electorates did not provide for any definition as between country and city electorates. In other words, each State was considered as a whole. There appears to be no requirement b the Act making it mandatory for electorates to be defined as city and country electorates. The only reference in this regard is in the amendment to the Electoral Act, No. 48 of 1965. Incidentally, the relevant section was forced on the Liberal Party by the Country Party at the end of a political shot gun. Section 19(1.) of that Act states:

In making any proposed distribution of a State into Divisions, the Distribution Commissioners shall so determine the proposed Divisions that each Division contains a number of electors not exceeding, or falling short of, the quota of electors by more than one fifth of the quota.

The section goes on to provide that certain matters, such as community of interest, shall be given consideration. This is the closest it gets to defining a country electorate. There is no definition. Those words may be taken to mean a country electorate but the Act does not say so. That is why the Act refers only to electorates in the Second Schedule of the Act One may well ask: What is a country electorate?

Whilst the salary reports in 1952, 1956 and 1959 had in mind city and country electorates when providing for different rates of allowances, it is significant that section 5(2.) of the Parliamentary Allowances Act 1952-1968 does not designate them as such but uses these words: if he is a member of an electoral division specified in the Second Schedule of this Act

This means that no firm line is laid down for classification and electorates may be changed on application by regulation, as was done in the case of the Australian Capital Territory - which was not designated as a country electorate in the 1952 report - and, later, with the electorates of Hunter and Shortland.

The anomaly and injustice of the present Act does not apply only to the definition of city and country electorates. There are glaring anomalies in the payment of electorate allowances for country electorates of varying areas and population and also for senators. 1 want to quote a few examples. The electorate of Darling, with an area of 132,642 square miles, receives the same electorate allowance as the electorate of the honourable member for Hunter (Mr Janes) with an area of 559 square miles. In Queensland, the electorate of Kennedy, with 247,500 square miles, is on a par with the electorate of McPherson which covers 2,270 square miles. In Western Australia, the electorate of Kalgoorlie, covering an area of 897,815 square miles, attracts an allowance equivalent to that paid to the honourable member for Forrest (Mr Kirwan), who represents an area of 15,670 square miles. Again, the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder), with an area of 520,280 square miles and a population of 68,000, receives an allowance equivalent to that paid to the member for the Australian Capital Territory, with an area of 939 square miles and a population of 122,000.

Does anyone suggest that similar allowances should be paid to members representing these widely differing electorates and areas? Is it to be said that the costs involved are the same in Kalgoorlie as they are in Hunter, and the same in the Northern Territory as they are in the Australian Capital Territory, or should some arrangement be made whereby huge expansive areas receive extra allowances tapering down according to the needs of the electorate?

Let us look at the situation which faces senators. The figures I propose to cite are as at 30th June 1969. New South Wales has an area of 309,433 square miles and a population of 4,478,800, yet the senators from New South Wales receive the same allowance, that is $2,750, as Mr Speaker, the honourable member for Phillip (Sir William Aston), who represents an area of 5 square miles and a population of 93,850. Queensland covers an area of 667,000 square miles and a population of 1,768,000. Senators from Queensland receive the same allowance as that paid to the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross) who represents an area of 15 square miles and a population of 100,313. Victoria has an area of 87,884 square miles and a population of 3,384,100, Senators representing Victoria receive the same allowance as the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) whose electorate covers 9 square miles and embraces a population of 92,930. South Australia covers 380,070 square miles and has a population of 1,144,400. Senators from South Australia are paid on the same basis as the honourabe member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) whose electorate covers 18 square miles and has a population of 95,530. Western Australia has an area of 975,920 square miles and a population of 946,400. A Western Australian senator receives the same as the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland) whose electorate covers 28 square miles and contains a population of 91,380. The area of Tasmania is 26,383 square miles. It has a population of 388,500. Yet a senator representing Tasmania receives the same allowance as the honourable member for Denison (Dr Solomon) whose electorate covers 53 square miles and has a population of 75,450.

Senators represent an entire State. It is true that there are 10 senators for each State but the States are not divided into 10 sections. Therefore it is reasonable to assume that they are expected to give electoral representation to every square mile of their State and to every electorate. Yet we find that senators are on the lowest rate of all - that of a city member whose area, in 1 case, covers no more than 5 square miles.

One fact stands out crystal clear in this argument and that is that it is time that a full inquiry was made into electoral allowances. It is beyond doubt that every honourable member, whether he represents a city or country electorate, and every senator at present may justifiably claim that the present arrangements and payments are inequitable and insufficient. They are unjustifiable above all else because the whole basis is decided on guesswork. One may again ask the question: Do a member's expenses for discharging his duties depend on area and location? That seems to have been the sole criterion hitherto in assessing allowances. Or do they depend on the character, growth and size of its population? It may truly be said that aliens and infants, who may number thousands in many electorates, generate as many representations and expenses per head as do citizens and adults. To elaborate, I ask: What makes work? What costs money for representation? Is it people, distance, and activity of the member, or a combination of all these factors?

Let me give a few examples of what I mean. The electorate of Sydney in the 1966 census had a population of 126,430 and in 1968 it had an enrolment of 59,967, compared to the seat of Lyne with 45,751 electors and a population of 79,730. In other words, the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Cope), with 14,216 more electors and a population of 46,700 more, receives an allowance of $600 less than the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock). The electorate of Paterson has 46,783 electors and a population of 80,170. In my electorate of Grayndler I have 13,512 more electors and 45,000 more people than the honourable member for Paterson (Mr O'Keefe) has and yet I receive $600 per annum less as an allowance. The seat of Wills in Victoria in 1966 had an enrolment of 58,213 and a population of 116,980, providing the member with an allowance of $600 less than that of the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull), whose electorate has an enrolment of 45,218 and a population of 30,750. The honourable member for Mallee has 12,995 fewer electors and 30,750 fewer people than the division of Wills.

These cases appear to support the contention that population should be a predominant consideration, as well as area, in the allocation of electorate allowances. Every State bears out this disparity. Probably more striking examples could be given, but I quote a few in order to show the need for an inquiry and reassessment of the situation. I do not say that country members should have their allowance reduced. They need an increase. All I say is that more than guesswork is required to assess a member's needs, and the Government has a responsibility to investigate and inquire and provide a reasonable basis of adjustment instead of the trapeze act and juggling proposition that they have put before us today.

Let us look at the senators' allowances. They are worth looking at. They are now to rise to the equivalent of those of city members under the catch as catch can basis of adjustment. Senators represent the whole State. If it is the view of the Government that electorate allowances are to be paid on an area basis, or even on a population basis, senators are entitled to the highest rate of all, whereas they have climbed only to the lowly status of a city representative. The Government cannot have it both ways. If area, acres and distance demand extra electorate allowances for country members - and it evidently accepts this principle - then senators have the highest claim. It is reasonable to say that all senators, as they are dedicated and sincere men, devote their energies to giving effective representation to the people of their State. This being so, travel, accommodation and other expenses must make heavy demands on their- resources. They must travel extensively in their own State as well as interstate in order that they may be known to their electors and be fully informed on national affairs.

Their representation costs beyond doubt are high. In these circumstances the allowance of $100 extra per year at the expense of colleagues in the House of Represenatives is a miserable, niggardly and degrading approach to a senator's responsibilities. Furthermore, if the Government will not provide for all senators, what about those who reside in country areas and work accordingly? Would this not justify the payment of an allowance at the country rate to the senators concerned? The facts of the matter are that a member's or a senator's needs cannot be assessed by guesswork. There must be a basis, and it is time that the Government placed members and senators above the level of second class businessmen and provided adequate electorate allowances to cover all the needs of parliamentary representation in these demanding times. As an ex-senator, the Prime Minister evidently attaches little substance to the work of senators. If his appreciation of their work is to be assessed on the basis of an increase of SI 00 for their electoral work, made at the expense of members of the House of Representatives, then his opinion is indeed very low and their place in the political spectrum in the eyes of the Prime Minister is hardly worth a mention.

As a comparison. 1 now want to turn to the few other matters which are relevant. Recently the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) asked a question which appears in Hansard at page 1762. He asked:

What arc the estimates of enrolments for each of the 125 House of Representatives electoral divisions as at October 1972. based upon current rates of growth?

The answer was given to the honourable member in some detail. The significant fact is that 84% of the electorates show an increase in population between 1969 and 1970, which means that the allowances should be subject to periodical review. The figures appear in Hansard so I do not want to incorporate them. Of all the electorates in Australia the population of only 19 have not increased in the period from 1969 to 1970. Sixteen per cent have remained stationary and, as I said, 84% have increased, but the electorate allowances are not being taken into consideration.

I had papers compiled for me by the Parliamentary Library. They show the increases in enrolments in electoral divisions in Australia from 22nd November 1968 to 26th March 1970. Each electorate is given. In New South Wales there has been an overall increase in enrolments of 3.62%, in Victoria an increase of 4.23%, in Queensland an increase of 4.52%, in South Australia an increase of 4.15%, in Western Australia an increase of 6.98%, in Tasmania an increase of 4.98%. in the Australian Capital Territory an increase of 20.18% and in the Northern Territory an increase of 21.16%. It is interesting to note that the seat of Chifley in New South Wales has gone up in that time by 14.22% and yet that is one of the electorates that is noi designated a country electorate under these proposals. That growing electorate has been given no consideration. The enrolments for the seat of Cunningham have gone up almost 10% in that time, and yet that seat has been deleted from the country electorates despite the fact that it is not so much a borderline case as a country electorate from the viewpoint of the ordinary individual. The seat of Mackellar, which is certainly an inner city seat, has gone up by 11.52%. Yet the electorate allowance that the member should be getting is now being shared by a couple of Liberal senators by the Government's goodness.

In Victoria the seat of Bruce is another which has been designated as a city seat. Enrolments there have gone up by 12.84%. Enrolments for the seat of Casey have gone up by 13.18%. The honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown) is not here at the moment; he was here a short time ago. Enrolments in his electorate have gone up by 17.37% between 1968 and 1970. Yet all those seats are designated as city electorates and the money for the electorate allowance has been taken from them and given to the Senate under the strange system adopted by the Government. Enrolments in the seat of Holt have gone up by 17.25%, and in the seat of Lalor by 11.29%. That brings home the point I made earlier - that the Government has taken money from the fastest growing areas and electorates in Australia to spread $6,000 amongst the senators instead of making an overall investigation of the position and substantially increasing electorate allowances to make them commensurate with the times.

In the seat of Petrie in Queensland there has been an increase in enrolments of 10.99% and in the seat of Ryan there has been an increase of 8.31%. I could go right through the electorates. Even in Fremantle in Western Australia there has been an increase of 8.07% and in the seat of Stirling there has been an increase of 12.04% in enrolments between 1968 and 1970. In the seat of Denison in Tasmania there has been an increase of 5.09%. All of these indicate that the position is far from being static and that the Government should do something to enable members to give adequate representation. With the concurrence of honourable members, I incorporate those documents in Hansard.

 

 

 

 

 

I have taken out from the same source further figures to show that in 1968 the average enrolment in electorates in Australia was 51,784. The average enrolment for the 6 States at 26th March 1970 was 53,554. With the concurrence of honourable members, I incorporate in Hansard that document setting out the average number of electors per Commonwealth electoral division, 22nd November 1968 and 26th March 1970. It is:

 

I have quoted these figures and made these points in order to show that at a time when the population is increasing, electorate responsibilities are becoming greater. Enrolments are increasing.I leave aside the increase in population and do not take into consideration aliens, migrants and other people who are not entitled to be enrolled. But, while enrolments are increasing, the Government is doing nothing at all to enable members of the Federal Parliament to carry out their duties adequately by making available additional funds for this purpose. When all is said and done, any member with a huge migrant population within the boundaries of his electorate has more demand placed on his resources. But there is no return on that demand. That is why I say today that all the factors that

I have quoted show that the Government has not looked at the matter but has just guessed at some figures right from the beginning. I have proved, by the figures that I have quoted, the casefor a review of these electoral allowances. The classification of electorates into city and country divisions is shown to be guesswork. No sound basis for it exists.

I summarise my comments to the Government by saying that, whilst the Opposition does not intend to oppose this measure, this does not mean that we could not have done so justifiably and, I think, been supported by all those who believe that parliamentarians, like people in other sections of society, should be entitled to have adequate allowances paid to them in order that they may carry out their responsibilities efficiently. Parliamentary representation in this day and age presents demands and challenges not experienced or faced in other days. 1 think that that would be agreed generally. The immigration programme with its many social problems, the international scene, the need for members and senators to be freely available throughout their electorates, the increased cost of travel, population increases, larger electorates, the needs for members of Parliament to be informed electorally and on the Territories of the Commonwealth all present heavy demands on time and money.

Members of Parliament do not desire to make a profit out of these allowances, but all must bear the cost of representation - some more than others. Country members with travelling expenses and city members with electorates that have huge populations all indicate the need for adequate, not excessive, electorate allowances. In one minor way, it does seem strange that Federal members and senators must pay for their own postal costs from the allowances provided. The better a member, the more postage he will have to pay and the less income will be received from those allowances. What a farcical position to place a representative in. No self-respecting businessman would pay for his own postage. It is the responsibility of the Government to give earnest consideration to the matters that I have raised. The Government should look at this Act, the cost of representation and the just claims of the members of all Parties for a review of representation costs. Research, secretarial assistance and matters of that kind also should come within the scope of these allowances.

I hope that my remarks will not be taken in any political way. What I have spoken of concerns members from both sides of the Parliament. I make my submission on behalf of all who sit in this Parliament, because I believe that the Australian electors are entitled to full and effective representation from their representatives on both sides of this House and in the other place. Their representatives, in their turn, are entitled to adequate facilities by way of staff and allowances to give this representation. The leaders of the parties and

Ministers in the Government are reasonably well looked after. No complaint is raised at that. But to neglect the huge number of members in the Parliament who are dependent entirely on their own resources to carry out their duties is not, I think, an example of doing the best for democracy. I conclude by saying that 1 hope that the Government will heed my views and keep in mind that, whilst we do not oppose the measure at the present time, the need is there for effective action by the Government in line with the thoughts that I have expressed for a review of this matter of the provision of adequate allowances for members of Parliament. This is an important topic.

Mir DONALD CAMERON (Griffith) [4.54] - Mr Deputy Speaker, for the last 40 minutes the House has been treated to a speech by that analytical and statistically minded man, the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly). I listened to the honourable member. All members of this House listen with great interest at times when the honourable member for Grayndler speaks. It is unfortunate that not all of his speeches are as full of deep thought as the one that he has made today. Usually, the honourable member branches off into politics and destroys his efforts. Today, he has resisted this temptation.

Even though the honourable member is a rapidly ageing gent, I could not help but recognise that some of the remarks that he has made are very much in keeping with modern developments. However, he has drawn a rather false analogy in suggesting that the roles of a senator and a member of the House of Representatives are as different as he said. I could not help but ask: What does a senator spend his allowance on? Granted, a senator is not connected with all the organisations and other bodies with which members of the House of Representatives are because their representation is on a more localised basis. On the other hand, a senator is confronted by continual travelling expenses and, in particular, accommodaton expenses. When the honourable member for Grayndler receives his copy of Hansard tomorrow and reads what he has said in this debate, he might have some second thoughts as to the comparison that he has drawn and take the opportunity on the motion for the adjournment one night to correct the impression that he has created and left in the minds of honourable members.

The honourable member for Grayndler said that the whole business of allowances for members of Parliament depends upon how a member works. The keynote of the consideration of parliamentary allowances rests with each individual member. If a member is the type who, every time he receives a letter from a constituent, tears that letter up and drops it into a waste bin, he can save money on postage. But if the member of Parliament does the right thing and answers his constituent, or constituents by the hundreds, he will find that the provision of this type of service very quickly eats away his allowance. The point is that I am not complaining this afternoon about the amount of money which is paid to me by way of parliamentary allowance. In fact, 1 would rather make reference to 2 other matters. I refer to the policy of the Government with respect to lbc office that I occupy in Brisbane. 1 also wish to ask the Government to adopt an attitude which will be of assistance to members of Parliament and which will be more in keeping with the spirit of the 1970s.

Mr Deputy Speaker,you would know, as you are the honourable member for Ryan - an electorate on the other side of the Brisbane River to my electorate - and share the same Commonwealth offices in Brisbane as I do, what a lousy deal the honourable member for Griffith has had since he was elected to Parliament in 1966. I can tell you, and all honourable members of the House, that my office in Brisbane is no bigger than a bathroom in an average sized home. It is so small that, when my secretary types my letters, my desk trembles. Her table is right at the end of my table. Every time she types a letter, my arm shakes on my table. This is the situation that I have had to put up with since my entry into this Parliament.

I am quite certain that, when 1 was elected in 1966. the powers that be said: Well, he is a Liberal holding the seat of Griffith, he will be out in 3 years, so we do not need to worry about taking any notice of his complaints about his office'. The point is that I have been returned to this House at the last election. I will be returned to it for many years to come. I am not prepared to continue working in the conditions under which I have been expected to work for the last 3± years.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order!I remind the honourable member that this Bill relates to electorate allowances.







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