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Tuesday, 6 December 1927

Senator KINGSMILL (Western Australia) . - I do not propose to touch upon the positions or emoluments of the principal officers of Parliament, except to say that the conviction has been forcing itself upon me for the last 25 years that the gentlemen who occupy senior positions in the Commonwealth Parliament are above all men the most blessed, both as regards the nature of their work and the magnitude of their remuneration. I wish, however, to put in a. word for the members of the Hansard staff. I do so quite disinterestedly because I am one of the members of this chamber who do not bother them very much; but I must say that whenever I do they very materially improve - so far as my memory serves me - upon what I have said. I think many other honorable senators are in the same position.

Senator Duncan - Hear, hear !

Senator KINGSMILL - These gentlemen have a very arduous task to fulfil. In the first place there is a popular fallacy that a Hansard reporter is merely a shorthand writer. Nothing is further from the truth. A Hansard reporter must, above all, be possessed of a tremendous amount of general information, and be able to appreciate allusions concerning which the Senate - and even the honorable senator who is speaking - is very often not clear. I am including myself with other honorable senators in all these little disqualifications. Indeed, I have known Hansard reporters to extricate me from a maze of parentheses out of which I should have been quite unable to emerge without their help. The arduous nature of their duties must be apparant to every one who carefully studies the nature of their work Whilst honorable senators may leave the chamber for a while and occupy themselves in a different atmosphere, they, poor fellows, have to remain and listen to the speaker who very frequently is addressing the Hansard reporter and no one else. If we examine the way these officers have been treated during the last few years in the matter of remuneration, I think we shall admit that they have some claim to consideration. They have been asking for increased salaries, but since 1915 the minimum salary of their office has been increased by only 26 per cent., while the average, increase in salaries of the rest of the Public Service has been something over 70 per cent. This is not due to their lack of fitness or ability to carry out their duties.

Senator Findley - Hear, hear.!

Senator KINGSMILL - We must admit that their work is excellent in every way, and members of this chamber and another place have every reason to be grateful to them. I ask that, if not on this occasion, at all events at some early date, more consideration shall be given to these officers. I am in agreement with Senator Findley concerning the position of the lower paid members of the Parliamentary staff. It has often been a matter of wonder to me how they manage to. get along, and I think that at this stage the circumstances of these gentlemen might well have been considered before some of the other increases which now appear on these Estimates were made. I have to conclude as I began, by congratulating the senior officers of Parliament upon their extremely fortunate position.

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