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Thursday, 17 November 1938

Mr BRENNAN (Batman)

In proof of what I have stated, I quote the following figures -


That was at the height of what might be called the good times. At the present time, the amount paid to Ministers in salaries and allowances is £35,100, an increase of £8,600 over even the boom period of 1928-29. However, what I have to establish for the satisfaction of the Treasurer (Mr. Casey), if it is possible to satisfy him on the point, is a. comparison between the depression period and the present time. It is to this period that my second set of figures relates. When the Lyons Government assumed office in January, 1932, Ministers received by way of Parliamentary salary £650 a year, and Assistant Ministers received the same as members of Parliament, namely, £800 a year. From the 1st October, 1932, there was a £50 reduction of the Parliamentary allowance, so that Ministers received approximately £600 a year, and Assistant Ministers £750 a year. The figures for this period, when a 30 per cent, cut applied to Ministers' salaries, and for the present period of 1938-39, are as follows:-



By subtracting £19,500 from £35,100, we get a difference of £15,600, which is the difference between the cost of ministerial salaries and allowances at the present time, and the cost during the depression period. Now, where is the Treasurer who challenged those figures? Does the Postmaster-General (Mr. Archie Cameron) desire to challenge them? I have been accused of a reckless mis-statement of the facts. What does the PostmasterGeneral desire to say 'about it?

There is a very important office under the Crown which might well be filled by an active Minister, thus relieving the Treasury of the need to find this additional money." I refer to the office of Vice-President of the Executive Council. I should like to know from the PostmasterGeneral why this office, on the reconstruction of the Cabinet, has been written down to a subordinate place? He ought to know that this position provides for the direct representation of the Governor-General, and therefore of His Majesty the King, in the Cabinet ; nevertheless! the occupant of that position has been relegated to a subordinate position. Is this to be regarded as indicative of the attitude of the Cabinet to the throne? The results of the Cabinet reconstruction we have witnessed with pain and apprehension.

Mr Archie Cameron - I thought it was with pleasure.

Mr BRENNAN - Not at all. One takes no pleasure in seeing parliamentary government, in a democracy such as ours, reduced to a condition which excites derision and contempt. We have seen two Ministers, not lost, but gone before. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) has resigned.

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