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Wednesday, 24 March 1965


Senator MATTNER (South Australia) . - The debate on the motion moved by Senator O'Byrne regarding grave anomalies in the rates of pay of the female members of the defence forces, in particular the members of the Women's Royal Australian Army Corps, has ranged over a very wide field. Three things have emerged from the debate. First, there was the timing of the motion; secondly, the confusion between civilian occupations and occupations in the forces; and thirdly, the question of equality, which is the Labour Party's main argument. It based the argument on the pay that was paid to a woman lieutenant. Before I go further, I want to tell Senator Cavanagh that there are no male nurses in the Army. He talked a lot of poppycock about that section of the Army. It does not exist. Honorable senators opposite put up Aunt Sallys only to knock them down.

I come to the question of equal pay for the sexes for work of equal value. We have heard a great deal of discussion on the matter. Senator O'Byrne based his argument on the pay of a woman lieutenant in a particular corps, and he compared her rate of pay with the rate of pay that is paid to a male lieutenant. Senator O'Byrne did not say that anyone who has the leaving certificate plus six month's training in the Army is eligible for a commission as a lieutenant in that corps. This is an important point, and he knows it. Never once did he mention the fact. Let us consider the case of the male lieutenant. He, at least, has to have the leaving certificate before he may enter the Royal Military College at Duntroon and he spends four years there before he becomes a lieutenant. Yet Senator O'Byrne spoke of equality. How can he base an argument on equality by comparing a female lieutenant with a male lieutenant? I think that is the end of his argument. For a lieutenant to be promoted to the rank of captain, he has to serve for a further four years and possibly have a university degree.


Senator O'Byrne - They are not all Duntroon lieutenants.


Senator MATTNER - The honorable senator is speaking about the Army. He is confusing two things. We are dealing with appointment to this branch of the Service. He is saying that in his opinion a female lieutenant is equivalent to a male lieutenant who has spent four years at Duntroon and who has at least the leaving certificate.


Senator Tangney - What about Portsea? It is necessary to spend 1 2 months there.


Senator MATTNER - That is a short term commission, but the person concerned also has to have his leaving certificate.


Senator Tangney - No.


Senator MATTNER - I am willing to be corrected, but I do not know how he would enter the college otherwise. I do not know how he would cope with the course. Of course, I would not know, but that is beside the point. I come back to the timing of this proposal. Honorable senators opposite are like babes in the wood who go around with a lovely benign smile on their faces. The decision to increase the pay of the men in the Services was given nine months ago. Honorable senators opposite slept silently, except for occasional snores. All of a sudden they knew that this report was to be tabled in the very near future. I give them credit for this. They are like hens, they pick up a lot. They jumped onto the water cart, timing it nicely, so they could say; " Look what the Labour Party has done". During the nine months when they knew there was an anomaly, they did npt do anything at all.

I am sorry that this question of equal pay for women has crept into the debate because in the matter of urgency that has been stated there is no mention at all of that proposition. It merely refers to grave anomalies. If the mover of the motion and the subsequent speakers had kept to that, this debate would have been more to the point. From what has been said, one would think that members of the Services were being badly paid. The case of a lieutenant was cited by Senator O'Byrne. A lieutenant receives £2 10s. lid. a day plus quarters which could be valued at £187, plus a uniform, plus £50. For a person with a leaving certificate, that is not bad.

Civilian employment has been compared with Army employment, but the types of service are not comparable. Honorable senators opposite have compared the service of women in the Army with that of men. There may be anomalies. It has been said that people who go into the front line should be paid more than those who are in base jobs. After I came back from New Guinea, when Labour had the numbers and was in government, I never heard it said on their side that people in the front line were entitled to a little more. The Labour Government in 1948 raised the rates for women to 661 per cent, of the rates for men. This Government came into office in 1949 and in 1951 it increased the rates. In accordance with the Allison report, which came out in 1958, the proportion of women's rates to men's rates was raised to 75 per cent, and the margin for skill for women was 100 per cent, of the margin for skill for men. Honorable senators opposite never mentioned those facts.


Senator Tangney - Where can we get a copy of the Allison report?


Senator MATTNER - The Minister has given an undertaking as to what is in the report. Some of the contents of the Allison report were known. There was no hole in the corner business about it. All of these things are conveniently forgotten in the case that has been put up today. When persons join the Services, they know the rates of pay and the conditions of employment.


Senator Ridley - They thought that the Government was going to put value back into the £1.


Senator MATTNER - We have done that. Honorable senators opposite say that £1 does not buy as much as it used to buy. Let me say that we do not do as much work for the £1, either. The whole trouble with honorable senators opposite is that they cannot take it. They are not used to prosperity. I can remember when they were talking with long faces about having a pool of unemployed. They wept tears of compassion. The worst thing that ever befell them was that this just did not happen. They have had a life of misery. As a matter of fact, I think they came from Misery Farm, but some of them look affluent enough. They talk about putting value back into the £1. Many of us never had £1 to spend in those days. Today we have the pounds and we can spend them. That goes for the great mass of people in the community. The very fact that this Government has put value back into the £1 is reflected in the results of succeeding Federal elections.

I do not deny that there may be some anomalies in these rates of pay. It was up to honorable senators opposite to state what the anomalies were, but they did not mention one. They based their argument on equality of pay. In my opinion their whole argument is defeated by the fact that a woman with a leaving certificate, plus six months service, can get a commission as a lieutenant, whereas a man must have at least a leaving honours certificate and four years in the Royal Military College in order to become a lieutenant.


Senator Hendrickson - What are you trying to prove?


Senator MATTNER - That an argument based on equality of pay for male and female lieutenants does not exist.


Senator Hendrickson - Tell us about the woman driver. She need not have a leaving certificate.


Senator MATTNER - It is not my place to deal with that. Senator O'Byrne based his argument on the pay of male and female lieutenants. That was the crux of his case. I appreciate the force of Senator Murphy's interjection as to who really pays for it. In the long run, I suppose the Parliament pays for it. I am glad that he raised that point because it has great implications.







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