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Wednesday, 28 March 1973
Page: 821


Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce) (Leader of the Opposition) - Mr Speaker-


Mr Whitlam - I thought I had closed the debate. No-one was rising.


Mr SPEAKER - The original question was that this Bill be read a second time. To this the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party has moved as an amendment that all words after 'That' be omitted with a view to inserting other words in place thereof. The immediate question is that the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question.


Mr SNEDDEN - Mr Speaker,I do not want to hold up the passage of this Bill. May I have the indulgence of the House to say a few words?


Mr Whitlam - Yes.


Mr SPEAKER - There being no objection I call the Leader of the Opposition.


Mr SNEDDEN - I did not realise -I should have realised, having been Leader of the House for a number of years - that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) was closing the debate, but I was thinking of the issues. The status of my friend and colleague, the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) in this House will not be determined by salary. The status of the Leader of the Country Party is that of leader of a significant party who leads a significant number of members in this House - 20, in fact.


Mr Hurford - He has been wagging the dog for a long time.


Mr SNEDDEN - Mr Speaker,I would be glad if that inane interjector would not disclose himself to be so inane. I will start again. The status of the Leader of the Country Party, who is a friend and colleague of mine, will not be determined by the salary which is assigned to him by the Government. The status of the Leader of the Country Party will be determined by his own standing as the leader of a significant national party and the leader of 20 members of this House and 5 members in the Senate. My own personal regard for the right honourable gentleman is known generally to the House and particularly it is known to him, as we are close friends. I hope and expect that we will remain friends for many years to come in the service of the national Parliament. He has been a colleague of very great value to me in opposition and he was a colleague of very great value in government, where he occupied the distinguished office of Deputy Prime Minister of this nation. These things are manifest. I say them proudly in this House but, of course, they have been known as being my attitude in the past.

But 1 owe a duty to my own Party to see that this Bill is passed. I believe that members of this House and of the Senate have been paid less than has been fair over a number of years and that this is the opportunity to correct that. Before the election I made it quite clear that I believed, whether we were to be in government or in opposition, that a salaries Bill ought to be presented early in this Parliament. I adhere to that view; I do not depart from it or retreat from it in any way. I owe that duty to my own Party and 1 will fulfil that duty to my own Party. From what the Prime Minister has said it is apparent to me that to vote for this amendment would hold up the Bill and would hold up the payment of what I believe to be a fair and proper remuneration to members of this House and the Senate. I have listened to the debate. The Country Party does not oppose the Bill except for the particular issue which relates to the status - as the Country Party sees it - of the Leader of the Country Party measured in terms of salary. I am saying that his status will not be determined by salary. The Country Party does not oppose the Bill; neither can we. I said we supported the Bill; we continue to support it. The Government opposes the amendment. We will not hold up the passage of the Bill. To vote for the amendment would have that effect. Therefore, against the background which I have just described, we will oppose the amendment.

Question put:

That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Sinclair's amendment) stand part of the question.







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