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Thursday, 12 November 1964

Senator CORMACK (Victoria) . - I am grateful to my colleague, Senator Cohen, for directing my attention to the matter he has just raised. It was not until he spoke that I looked at the Schedule to the Bill to see what was involved. One of the curiosities of this situation is that this Bill follows the pattern of the Bill relating to ministerial allowances which we passed a fortnight ago. We saw then what happens when the members of the Ministry are involved in examining their own needs. I must confess that I was filled with pity to hear of the disadvantages under which they had been labouring in relation to allowances and superannuation. My feelings of pity then moved towards the Presiding Officers of the Parliament, Mr. President and Mr. Speaker, and I obtained from my friend, the Leader of the Government in the Senate, a promise that their position in this respect would be examined in the ensuing year.

As Senator Cohen has indicated, here we have a repetition of the pattern that began to emerge when Ministers were considering their own needs. The curia of the Ministry - which I understand consists of three eminent princes who can be identified somewhere in the Schedule by those who know their politics - have decided that the Parliament must be further derogated in the eyes of the executive by assailing - that is what this amounts to - the officers of the Parliament. Where a generous 27 per cent, increase has been granted to all those who can get near the source of revenue, the salary of the Clerk of the Senate will be increased by 19 per cent., the salary of the Principal Parliamentary Reporter by 18.8 per cent, and the salary of the Secretary of the Joint House Department by 18.2 per cent. If it is good enough for Public Service First Division officers to have their salaries increased by 27 per cent, and if it is good enough for members of Parliament to have their remuneration increased by 27 Der cent., surely it is good enough for the officers of the Parliament itself to have their salaries increased at least by a similar percentage.

This is the second instance of a pushing of the Parliament into the background. Its own officers have now been pushed into the background. I think it is time that the Parliament began to take notice of what is haD.pening. Honorable senators will recall that during the debate on the Appropriation Bills last May Senator Murphy directed attention to what he considered to be the need for the

Parliament to operate under its own Act. When we see Bills of the kind now before us, we may well think the time has arrived when the Parliament should have its own Act and be master inside its own house. I should be grateful if the Minister would give me some rational explanation of the differential that has been applied in the fixing of salaries in the instances to which I have referred.

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