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Thursday, 11 May 1939

Mr MARTENS (Herbert) .- I wish to make my position quite clear both to this Parliament and to the people df the country generally. I do" not agree with the principles embodied in the bill, nor do I agree with the terms of the amendment which has been suggested in other quarters. Like the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) I believe that the Government's original proposal was outrageous, and that the amendment also is too liberal. I see no reason why special consideration should be given to the widow of one ex-member of this House, even though he held the office of Prime Minister. It was a shock to me to learn of the unfortunate circumstances disclosed by the investigations into the late Prime Minister's affairs by a committee of this House. That disclosure made it clear to honorable members that certain accusations which had been made against the late right honorable gentleman, on more than one occasion, were quite without foundation. I make no excuse for my attitude in this matter. A precedent has been established for the provision by this Parliament of an allowance to the widows and dependants of deceased members. ' That precedent should not be departed from in this case. If the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) was carried away by sentiment when making his promise that the widow and children of the late Prime Minister would receive special consideration, that is no concern of mine. Probably that sentiment was the result of the long association between the right honorable gentleman and the late Prime Minister. Such an association, as honorable members know, often cements a friendship, and in times of grave trouble leads to the saying of things which otherwise might not be said. I think the original suggestion was that a grant of £25,000 or an annuity of £1,000 would be given to Dame Enid Lyons and her family. The bill now before the House provides for an annuity of £1,000 for ten years. With due deference to other opinions that have been expressed, I say emphatically that there is no justification for the widow of a deceased member of this Parliament receiving an allowance equal to the salary payable to a private member. By way of interjection, the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) asked the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) how he could justify the emolument which he receives as a member of this Parliament. I say candidly, that the allowance made to honorable members of this Parliament is not fairly apportioned according to the size of the various constituencies. The provision made by even the most careful member during his term of office does not leave, his dependants very well-to-do. It should also be borne in mind that membership of any parliament precludes a man from investing whatever money he may have in certain directions. There are, of course, very good reasons for that restriction, which, I think, applies to members of all legislatures in this country. I shall vote against the bill and reserve the right to vote against the amendments.

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