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Thursday, 29 October 1964


Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) .- I return to the matter that I raised previously. I wish to refer specifically to paragraph (a) (ii) of proposed new sub-section 17(4.), which refers to the expulsion of a member from a political party. I know that people have had, and may still in the future have, the honour to be expelled from a political party for adherence to what they consider to be a very proper principle. On the other hand, some political parties have standards with which individual members come into conflict because of misconduct in a political sense which would not bring them within section 44 of the Constitution. That section provides that if a person has been convicted and is subject to be sentenced for any offence punishable by law to a term of imprisonment for one year or longer he forfeits his seat in the Parliament. That is a reason for depriving him of his superannuation pension under the principal Act, an amendment of which we are considering. As I read Section 22 of the principal Act, a person is entitled to a refund of contribution but to no other benefit.

The clause to which I am directing my mind provides for the granting of a special benefit to a person who does not voluntarily retire. If such a person had been expelled from a political party, it seems to me that he can be deemed to have retired voluntarily. Something should be done to make clear the distinction between expulsion from a political party because of parliamentary misconduct and an expulsion that has taken place on other grounds. I do not expect the matter to be decided now but I raise it so that the Minister's officers will take this matter into consideration at some future time.

While I am on my feet, I acknowledge that I was guilty of an oversight, Mr. Chairman, when you asked whether it was the wish of the Committee that the Bill be taken as a whole. I did not object then but I hope you will agree to my request that we dispose of clauses 1 to 13 and then vote on clause 14. I wish to register my vote against that clause.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator McKellar).We shall follow that course.


Senator WRIGHT - If no other honorable senator wishes to speak, I shall refer to clause 13, which amends section 21 of the principal Act. Section 21 states -

.   . where a person entitled to a pension is or becomes - (a)the holder of an office under, or employed by, the Commonwealth or a State, or an authority of the Commonwealth or of a State;

(b)   a person in receipt of a salary, or an allowance in the nature of a salary, as a member or former member of the Parliament of a State (whether by virtue of holding some special position in that Parliament or not) or as a Minister of State of a State; or

(c)   a person in receipt of a pension arising out of any such office, employment, membership or ministry, the rate of pension otherwise payable to him shall be reduced by the rate of the remuneration in respect of the office or employment. . . .

A sub-section provides that the reduction should never be more than 50 per cent of the parliamentary retiring allowance. I view this situation with disquiet because members of Parliament may be appointed to judicial office. It seems to me that the occupant of a judicial office receiving a parliamentary retiring allowance is in an odd position that requires consideration. Further, if the person in receipt of superannuation is occupying a non-judicial office carrying a high salary, it seems to me that it would be proper for him to draw so much of the parliamentary retiring allowance as would be attributable to his contribution.

Even so, a superannuation fund is always a common fund. What one loses by the advantages of good health and continuing to be a member of Parliament is made up by the fact that those who are prematurely affected by ill health or are defeated at an early stage get a benefit. I consider that a retired member of Parliament who holds an office carrying high emoluments is in a special position and that his pension from the retiring allowance fund should not be reduced to the extent of 50 per cent but withdrawn completely during his occupancy of that office. I think this is a matter which is worthy of consideration.

Clauses 1 to 13 agreed to.

Clause 14 agreed to.

Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.







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