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Thursday, 12 August 1926

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) . - It is true, as the Leader of the Opposition has said, that this matter was brought under the notice of a committee of the Senate not long ago, and at that time attention was called by more than one honorable senator to what was considered the inadequate remuneration of the officers of this Chamber. They are very attentive and obliging to honorable senators; they understand their work thoroughly; and they do it to the complete satisfaction of honorable senators and their superior officers. My sympathy always goes out to those on the breadandbutter line, and the officers to whom I refer come within that category. They have not approached me in the matter. I ask honorable senators, who are better placed in life than some of them, how they would like to be put on the bread line. Some of these men are receiving about £250 per annum; and, while £5 a week may seem, on paper, to be a fair wage, one has to remember that its present purchasing power is equal only to ' that of £3 a few years ago.

Senator Guthrie - It may not be enough, but it is a great deal more than many of those engaged in the production of butter receive.

Senator FINDLEY - It is very different from the dividends drawn from the woollen mills which the honorable senator purchased so cheaply; but I am dealing with officers of this Parliament. Out of that £5 a week, rent has to be paid. Many thousands of working men do hot own the houses in which they live. There is a shortage of dwellings, and in some areas it is almost impossible to obtain a good house at a reasonable rental. For an ordinary five-roomed weatherboard cottage, rents of from 30s. to 35s. a week, are demanded. If we subtract 30s. from £5, and allow for train and tram fares, how much is left to provide food and clothing for a wife and family?

Senator Graham - There are also the superannuation payments to be deducted.

Senator FINDLEY - Exactly. The working man is advised to make provision for a rainy day, but he cannot provide for the future from a low wage such as that received by these officers. The matter having been again ventilated, I hope that a substantial increase will be made commensurate with the work performed and the responsibilities which devolve upon these officers. No doubt we all sympathize with them, but it has been well said that sympathy without relief is like mustard without beef. These men ask not only for sympathy, but also for justice.

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