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Thursday, 12 August 1926

Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) . - Last year I referred to the salaries that are being paid to officers of both branches of the legislature. I then ventured the opinion, as I do now, that those salaries are not commensurate with the work performed. The rapid rate at which the cost of living has advanced, and the slow rate at which the salaries of our officers have been raised, give them a legitimate claim for a revision of their remuneration. Last year Senator Givens, who was then President of the Senate, contended that they were well paid. I do not think that they are. Officers in the higher grades in the Parliament are being given increases, and it is time that men who are on the lower rung of the ladder were considered. I want it to be clearly understood that I am not objecting to the increases that are proposed in regard to the President of the Senate and the Chairman of Committees. I cannot, from memory* say what is the salary of each officer of the Chamber, but I know that it is not commensurate with the increased cost of living. That cannot be denied. I suggest to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives that if Supplementary Estimates are to be introduced, they should give consideration to this matter. My experience in this Parliament extends over a number of years. Not one of the men whose claims I am advocating has approached me in this matter. ' Fifteen months ago the then President of the Senate suggested that provision would be made for these men on this year's Estimates. That has not been done. Now is the time, and this is the place, to raise the question. The increases that these officers have received over a period of years have not been sufficient to enable them to keep pace with the. rise in the cost of living. Last year Senator Givens told me that Parliament could not take on the duties of an arbitration court. I admit that that is correct. But these men have not the opportunity posessed by those outside parliamentary employ to present their case to the Arbitration Court. I understand that they do not even have the opportunity of approaching the Public Service Arbitrator, Mr. Atlee Hunt. Apart from coming under the President and the Speaker, they are in a " No Man's Land." The determination of the President " and Mr. Speaker is evidently final; from their decision there is no appeal. I do not know that it is necessary to bring these officers under the provisions of the Arbitration (Public Service) Act, or the tribunal over which Mr. Atlee Hunt presides. I suggest that the President and Mr. Speaker confer, and consider whether they can grant an increase to these men. Having regard to the salaries now paid, and their length of service, I think that the President, in his wisdom and goodness of heart, will recognize the justice of their claim.

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