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Friday, 5 June 1970

Mr BARNARD (Bass) - The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Defence Act to bring into line the allowances payable to the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, the Chief of the Naval Staff, the Chief of the General Staff and the Chief of the Air Staff with those of the First Division officers of the Commonwealth Public Service. The Opposition does not oppose this legislation. Indeed, we approve of the recommendation made by the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances which investigated this aspect of the payment now being made to certain members of the defence forces. It has been argued that under the Governor-General's regulations alterations can be made to the payment of allowances for members of the defence forces, but the report of the Senate Committee on Regulations and Ordinances was quite explicit. In its opinion the payment of allowances for senior members of the defence forces should be the subject of legislative action by the Parliament. I note, from the Minister's second reading speech, that bc has accepted that proposition, although the Department maintains that the regultaions were legal and valid. However, the Minister has accepted the recommendation of the Senate Committee that in future pay and allowances should be adjusted as a result of action taken in the Parliament. The Opposition is in complete agreement with this point of view. We believe that these matters should properly be dealt with by the Parliament and for this reason we do not oppose the legislation. We support the point of view expressed by the Minister for Defence when he introduced the legislation. This Bill represents an acceptance of the recommendation of the Senate Committee which was charged with the responsibility of examining this matter.

I agreed to deal with the Bill this afternoon because of some of the difficulties associated with the time factor and with the business before the House. Then I was told that there would be two or three amendments proposed by the Government. Unfortunately I ha\e not had time to consider fully the amendments that the Govern ment will move. They were handed to me in the last four or five minutes. I am sure that the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp), who is handling this matter for the Minister for Defence, would agree that I have not had a proper opportunity to consider what the amendments propose and their implication, therefore I ask him to take the opportunity to explain the amendments not only for my benefit but for the benefit of all honourable members on this side. 1 conclude by repeating that the Opposition supports this legislation. We believe that the Government has adopted a proper course of action in ensuring that in future the payment of allowances to senior members of the defence forces will be as a result of legislation introduced into the Parliament.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In Committee

The Bill.

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