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Tuesday, 6 December 1927

Senator REID (Queensland) .- I cannot understand Senator Needham's object in moving his requested amendment. Honorable senators placed their views before the committee, and heard the President's explanation, most of which must be regarded as satisfactory. Honorable senators may confidently leave thematters which have been raised to the President and the Speaker, who next year will doubtless remedy any anomalies which exist.

Senator Needham - A year is a long time to wait for the rectification of errors which exist now.

Senator REID - If the request is agreed to, we shall accomplish nothing. It will not increase any salaries this year. Senator Duncan said that the officers in closest touch with the President were treated more generously than were other officers. That is inevitable so long as human nature remains what it is. This debate is evidence of the truth of that statement. It is because honorable senators appreciate the services of the messengers connected with Parliament, with whom they are daily in touch, that this discussion has taken place.But there may be in the Public Service other men whose salaries are covered by these Estimates who are just as much entitled to our consideration as are these men with whom we come into personal contact. We cannot get away from the fact that human beings are more interested in those with whom they come in contact than with persons whom they know only by name. Throughout the Public Service the position is the same - officers most closely associated with Ministers get the best treatment.

Senator Sir William Glasgow - Ministers have no say in fixing their salaries.

Senator REID - Nevertheless officers whose daily duty brings them in touch with Ministers, their secretaries, or with other influential officers, receive better treatment than those whose work keeps them in the background. I can give the names of many men who have gained promotion, not because of their special ability, but because of their daily contact with Ministers and other high officials. No doubt, as a result of this discussion, the anomalies which now exists will be remedied next year.

Senator Sir John Newlands - Does the honorable senator think thatIshould be coerced?

Senator REID - Not at all ; but as the Presiding Officer in this chamber has heard the opinion of honorable senators, he will doubtless regard it as his duty to seriously consider some of the points raised. In considering the salaries of these officers we should not be unmindful of the fact that Parliament is in session for only a certain period of the year. During the recess the members of the staff, as well as honorable senators, have not the same amount of work to perform, and consequently have longer periods for recreation than members of the Public Service. The members of the staff are not rushed with work during a recess, and in my opinion have easier billets than the members of the Public Service. After making a comparison between the salaries paid to messengers in this building, and. others occupying similar positions in departments. I believe that with one or two exceptions the messengers here are on about the same rates. The messengers employed in departments, however, receive only the statutory public holidays, whilst members of the Parliamentary staff have longer periods for recreation. It is easy for us to be generous in this matter, but we have to consider the point raised by Senator Lynch, in relation to the means by which revenue is raised, the fact that there is tremendous industrial depression, that thousands are out of employment, and that economy is being suggested on every hand. In these circumstances it is unreasonable to suggest that the salaries of the staff which come under our purview should be increased while others remain stationary. As I do not think that the request, even if agreed to, will serve any useful purpose, I intend to oppose it.

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