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Wednesday, 3 June 1942

Mr BRENNAN (Batman) .- I am content to leave the remuneration of the chairman and the other commissioners as fixed in the bill, but I am quite at a loss to understand the principle upon which the committee based its recommendation in this respect. I certainly do not desire to reduce any of the proposed salaries, but I share the wonderment of the mover of the amendment as to the reason for the very sharp distinction between the rewards of the chairman and those of the other members of the commission. The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) said that the salary of the chairman should be proportionately higher - disproportionately higher, it seems to me - because of his additional responsibility, but there is nothing in the bill to indicate that he will have any additional responsibility to carry. There is nothing to indicate that the functions of one commissioner are to be in any way different from those of another, nor is such a distinction indicated in the report of the joint committee. We may assume that the chairman will occupy a kind of presidential position at meetings of the commission. That is not to say that his duties in this respect will be any more serious than those of the Chief Justice presiding over the High Court bench, where all justices receive high remuneration, and the Chief Justice somewhat more than that of the others, but not disproportionately more, as is proposed here. I cannot help thinking, with the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Sheehan), that the general effect of this provision will be that junior commissioners will be encouraged not -to take their responsibilities seriously. They will be encouraged to feel that, as their remuneration is less than one-quarter that of the chairman, they are expected to expend only one-quarter of the energy devoted by the chairman to the job. I should like all the commissioners to feel that they are equally responsible.

Mr Paterson - How often is the commission expected to meet?

Mr BRENNAN - I do not think that we have any information on the point.

Sir Charles Marr - It is stated in the report.

Mr BRENNAN - The report does not bind this committee.

Mr Sheehan - The number of meetings is not specified.

Mr BRENNAN - I have not seen in the bill anything to indicate the days of meeting, or the number of meetings which shall be held. I should like to know upon what basis the remuneration of the commissioners has been apportioned. Are the junior commissioners to regard themselves as quarter-time commissioners, or as persons sharing full responsibility with the chairman, who will receive a slightly greater remuneration because he is expected to preside over meetings, and, on certain occasions, to be the spokesman of the commission. I have a good deal of sympathy with the amendment of the honorable member for Cook, but I do not profess to have a sufficiently intimate knowledge of the matter to propose an alteration of what is provided in the bill. However, I am inclined to make some complaint, because the Government has not established to my satisfaction that there exists a sound reason for the sharp differentiation it has made in the emoluments of members of the commission.

Amendment negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 11 to 16 agreed to.

Clause 17 - (1.) The commission shall appoint a general manager and such other officers and such servants as it thinks necessary. (2.) A person shall not be admitted to the service of the commission unless -

(a)   lie is a natural-born or naturalized British subject;

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