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Thursday, 12 August 1926

Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) . - I knew that once the matter was brought under the notice of Mr. President, he would be very sympathetic. But I do not think he has gone far enough. This committee should not be a mutual admiration society. We should not be content to only admire the splendid work done by members of the Hansard staff and other officers of the Parliament. Commendation for services rendered will not help to keep the kettle boiling. Mr. President has just bold us that the messengers of the Senate are better paid than -are messengers of some other departments of the Public Service over which he has no control. If those outside this building are not paid more than our messengers are, then God help them ! Mr. President has stated that during the last ten years the salaries of certain officers have been increased from 25 per cent, to 30 per cent.

I remind him that during that time the cost of living has increased by 11)0 percent., so it cannot be said' that their position has improved. Mr. President has told us, also, that as we shall be removing to Canberra next year, the salaries of officers will be revised in order tocompensate them for certain disadvantages which they will suffer by reason of the transfer. I am reminded of the adage - "Live horse and you will get grass." Whilst supporting Mr. President in his desire to assist our officers, I am disposed to take certain action to see whether or not the Government, through the Treasurer, will make it possible for Mr. President and Mr. Speaker to provide these increases in salaries to our officers. I therefore move -

That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the proposed vote by £1. " Senator Duncan. - Why not accept the assurance of Mr. President, arid leave the matter to him ? The honorable senator said he would do that. \ Senator NEEDHAM.- I do not wish Senator Duncan to put into my mouth words that I did not say. What I said was that I knew Mr. President would be sympathetic. I realize that he is, but sympathy alone will not dc very much. I want to make it possible for Mr. President and Mr. Speaker to provide increases for those officers who deserve increases before Parliament is transferred to Canberra. Unless action is taken now it will be at least fourteen months before the promised re-organization scheme can be completed, and I submit that it is the duty of the committee now to instruct the presiding officer to give this matter earlier consideration. It is possible that Mr. President misunderstood my references to the officers of this House in relation to the industrial court, presided over by Mr. Atlee Hunt. What I did say was that under present conditions they have no appeal to any industrial court in Australia, not even to the court over which Mr. Atlee Hunt presides under the provisions of the Public Service Arbitration Act. I also stated that I did not wish this Parliament to become an industrial or arbitration court. No blame attaches to Mr. President for the present condition of affairs, but I think that the committee should support him in his desire to assist the employees of Parliament in the direction indicated.

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