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Thursday, 12 August 1926


The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon J Newlands - The honorable senator is out of order in carrying on a conversation with an honorable senator sitting alongside him.


Senator McHUGH - Senator Poll is trying to crack the whip . on me. He has no right to do so. Ministers should advance good reason for raising the salary of the commissioner by £750 a year.


Senator McHUGH - The bill before us proves conclusively that this is a rich man's government. It is prepared to grant large increases of salary to those who move in the same social circle with members of the Ministry, and are already in receipt of good salaries, but to give to the lower-paid officials an increase of £5 or £10 per annum it regards as an act of grace. This bill proposes to grant to two men already receiving large salaries increases of £750 per annum and £700 per annum respectively. The Government professes to believe that every individual in the community is entitled to just treatment. If men are to be paid by results, then I say that there are men in this building - cleaners, receiving £238 per annum, and attendants whose salary is £253 per annum - who should receive substantial increases. The Government's proposal to vacate certain fields of taxation should reduce the work of these taxation commissioners, yet it is intended to increase their salaries. That seems anomalous, especially when the salaries of the lower-paid officials of Parliament, whose duties will increase considerably when the Seat of Government is transferred to Canberra, remain stationary. It is not sufficient to say that these anomalies will be rectified when we get to Canberra. These men do essential work> and their services are appreciated by every honorable senator. They should be paid more now.


The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon J Newlands - The honorable senator is not in order in discussing on this motion the salaries paid to the employees in this building. He may refer to them incidentally, hut the question of their salaries does not arise in connexion with this bill.


Senator McHUGH - The people of Australia are entitled to know the reason for the proposed increases of salary to these commissioners. I admit that the fact that they are already receiving high salaries does not necessarily mean that they are overpaid. Parliament is always willing to grant increases of salaries to men entitled to them, so long as sufficient reasons for so doing are advanced by the Government. The salaries paid to public servants are not high: Many men holding responsible positions in the service of the Government are inadequately remunerated. That many of them are ex- perts is not generally recognized. If, for instance, the experts in the Parliamentary Library were displaced by other men, we should soon be brought to a realization of the fact that the men who had been displaced were, indeed, experts. Even a second-rate lawyer or a third-rate doctor receive* an income of £1,500 or £2,000 a year, while experts in our government departments, who are working in the interests of the country, are thought to be well paid if they receive £500 or £600 per annum. The Government should give closer attention to the, salaries paid to its public servants, and not leave this matter entirely to others. A body of men appointed to deal with Public Service salaries cannot be acquainted with the work performed by those whose services they assess. They may, for instance, go into the Titles Office to value the work of the officers there, yet they probably would not be able to prepare the simplest transfer document, and would scarcely know what a mortgage deed was.







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