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Tuesday, 6 December 1927

Senator DUNCAN (New South Wales) . - SenatorFoll is to be commended for having brought this matter before the committee. A very delicate situation arises when we have to refer to the salaries being paid to officers for whom we have the highest respect, and whom we have no desire to embarrass or injure in any way. But, with Senator Poll and others who have spoken, I feel that if there is justification for these salary increases to the higher paid officers, there is much more justification for a demand to increase the salaries of the lower paid officers. The amount to be paid to the Clerk of the Senate is higher by hun dreds of pounds than is the salary paid to members of this Chamber, who have to incur much heavier expenditure in maintaining their position than is expected of parliamentary officials. I suggest, therefore, that there must be some reason underlying the decision of the President and Mr. Speaker to grant, year after year, increases out of all proportion to salaries that were paid in former years. Other officers that have been mentioned have not received this somewhat loving consideration. There are, for instance, the Hansard reporters. I refer particularly to these members of the staff, for whom the increase in salary this year cannot be regarded as at all commensurate with the duties they have to perform. It may be of interest to honorable senators to know that the members of our Hansard staff are not being paid in accordance with the standard laid down for the Hansard staffs of certain State Parliaments. In March of last year these officers asked for an increase, and pointed out then that since 1915 their salaries had been increased by only 26 per cent., while salaries in the Public Service generally had been increased by 75.5 per cent., and the increase in the cost of living was 74 per cent.

Senator FOLL (QUEENSLAND) - They are also debarred from appointment to the best positions in this Parliament.

Senator DUNCAN - That is so. Once they join the Hansard staff, there they remain. They cannot expect, except by the intervention of Providence, to take sudden leaps to higher positions. These estimates provide for an increase of £20 to each member of the Hansard staff. This means that the minimum salary is now only 30 per cent. higher than it was in 1901, notwithstanding that since then there has been , a considerable reduction in the purchasing power of salary paid. In other words, they are getting 15s, where formerly they received £1. I ask honorable senators and the President to bear in mind also, that the maximum salary paid to the New South Wales Hansard staff is higher than the amount provided in these estimates for our Hansard reporters, and that the maximum in

Queensland is equal to the maximum of this Parliament. The reporters on the Commonwealth staff have very important duties to discharge, and in common with many other officials of this Parliament, they are worthy of more consideration than has been shown to them in these Estimates. Why should not the same consideration" be given to them as to the Clerk, and the Clerk- Assistant of the Senate? I do not say that those officers should not receive consideration, but I cannot .understand why they have received this special treatment. Is it because they are able to get the ear of the President in a way that other officials cannot?

Senator Sir John Newlands - That is " dirt."

Senator DUNCAN - In his courteous manner, Senator Newlands has referred to my remark as " dirt." If the honorable senator were in the President's chair, and some other honorable senator made use of that remark, he would call upon him to withdraw.

Senator Sir John Newlands - The remark is in order.

Senator DUNCAN - I am putting the case impartially, and urging the claims of these men for further consideration. The President may he able to explain the reason for what has been done. I am not imputing anything wrong.

Senator Sir John Newlands - The honorable senator is.

Senator DUNCAN - I have shown the position as it is, and I ask for an explanation. The President may have a good and sufficient explanation; but it seems to me that the differentiation will require a considerable measure of justification.

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