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Friday, 9 July 1915

Senator MILLEN - But not as it is interpreted by you.

Senator LYNCH - The Constitution provides for the appropriation of £12,000 for salaries to seven Ministers, but the understanding which was arrived at was that this £12,000 should be divided amongst six Ministers. The point has been sustained by the Leader of the Opposition, during the last few minutes, that the Prime Minister, as such, does not receive one penny for his services. This is as curious a make-believe as has ever been upheld by either one party or the other, and the Prime Minister has usually taken to himself a portfolio that has entitled him to draw some allowance from the Treasurer. We are now proposing to add another salaried Minister to the number, making the number seven, but the Bill does not provide that we should allow for his remuneration at the rate of £2,000 per year. Why not? The Constitution originally set apart the sum of £2,000 for each of six Ministers, and any person in this country,1 particularly those who know least about it, if asked what the salary of a Cabinet Minister was, would repy £2,000 a year. The understanding arrived at in the express terms of the Constitution was that a Ministerial portfolio should carry the salary of that amount per annum, no more and no less. Now, in proposing to add another portfolio, we are not following the precedent set by the framers of the Constitution, but are actually cutting down the salary. I do not agree with that at all. The labourer is worthy of his hire, whether he be a Cabinet Minister or anything else. The people of this country are most parsimonious in the manner in which they pay for the services of their public men. I have heard a past Treasurer of the Commonwealth say that, if he had remained in office much longer, he would have been quickly in his grave. That man went out of the country's service, and is still living a good, healthy life. I quote the incident as showing that those who serve the n 7A.1_ 4 public faithfully and well should at least be rewarded for their services. I am proposing that this request be made to the other House as a means of getting away from the idle fiction that has for so long been associated with the payment of Ministerial salaries: Why not call a spade a spade, and pay our Cabinet Ministers according to the spirit and letter of the Constitution, and in accordance with the standard agreed upon at the time the Constitution was drawn up?

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