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Wednesday, 28 October 1964


Senator BENN (Queensland) .- I refer to Division No. 101, the Senate, sub-division 2, item 05, "Incidental and other expenditure, £2,300 ". This is a very small sum in comparison with the many millions of pounds involved in other items of proposed expenditure that the Committee has been discussing tonight. I understand that the President of the Senate administers this expenditure. One has only to look at this item to understand what it covers. For example, we receive three copies of newspapers. I understand that when the Parliament was first established in Canberra many years ago the practice was commenced of delivering newspapers to senators and members of the House of Representatives, and that that practice has continued up to the present time. Transport facilities have improved considerably since Parliament House was opened many years ago and it is now possible for Senators to obtain, at the hotels where they stay, copies of Sydney newspapers as early as 7 a.m. There are also available two daily newspapers published in Canberra. Four daily newspapers are available by 7 a.m. in the hotels at which senators and members stay. Senators have funds of their own and are able to pay for these newspapers. When they arrive at Parliament House they find that Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra newspapers are available free. 1 co not think it is necessary for this practice to continue. Quite recently members on this side of the chamber discussed this matter for a certain reason. We believe that there should be no more free issues of newspapers and we wish the Government to discontinue the practice not, perhaps, this week but after the Parliament rises for the year. If a member of Parliament wants a newspaper, let him pay for it. We do not want the pensioners or the battlers in the community to pay taxes in order to provide members of the Australian Labour Party in the Senate with free newspapers. We are in the position to buy our own newspapers and we bring them with us. I ask the Minister to give consideration to this request. 1 wish to refer to another matter. I have a document here headed " Parliamentary Allowances. Commonwealth of Australia. Advice of payment." It is necessary for me to connect what I am about to say with the estimates which we arc considering. I would say that this matter comes under the administration of the President of the Senate. The document would need to be submitted by the Treasury to the Senate to be distributed to honorable senators. This is really a statement that is submitted to senators to show the details of their salary, or of their wages if you wish to call them that. There is a space for the honorable senator's name, a space for the month ended, and then there is a heading " Parliamentary Allowances ". That is followed by a heading which was referred to by Mr. Justice Nicholas when he investigated the allowances and payments to senators and members of the House of Representatives some years ago. It is " Electoral Allowance ". The document then shows the deductions of honorable senators, and finally the net payment.

Can a senator who goes to live in a State 700 miles away from the one for which he was elected, be paid an electoral allowance? The allowance is fairly substantial. It is £800 for a senator. I do not see how any honorable senator can be entitled to this allowance if he is not living in his electorate. If he is living 700 miles away from his electorate he is certainly not entitled to any electoral allowance. I realise I have to support that submission and I do so by referring to allowances prescribed in industrial awards. There are such allowances operating. Senator Cavanagh could tell us about an allowance that is paid to employees working in obnoxious fumes.


Senator Cavanagh - Honorable senators are not doing that.


Senator BENN - No. But it has been held that for an employee to be entitled to the allowance for working in obnoxious fumes he must be working in fumes which are, in fact, obnoxious. Then there is another allowance - and Senator Cavanagh would be an authority on this - for employees working in confined spaces. There are many places in which employees can work, but unless those places are positively confined the employees are not entitled to the allowance. I submit that no honorable senator who lives outside his electorate permanently is entitled -


Senator Paltridge - I do not wish to interrupt the honorable senator, but I am at a loss to discover - unless he indicates it to me - just how the matter he is discussing can be connected with the subject under debate.


Senator BENN - I thought that I made that clear. I know that we are not dealing with the appropriation which covers the payment of salaries or allowances of members of Parliament, but I said that the document - I am not sure of this - was prepared in the Treasury and then submitted to the Senate. It is handled by officers of the Senate.


Senator Paltridge - It deals with a payment to a senator or what could be described as a senatorial allowance. I do not think it has anything to do with the estimates being discussed. I ask for a ruling, Madam Temporary Chairman.


Senator BENN - I am not referring to the item I was discussing when I first rose to speak.







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