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Thursday, 8 December 1960

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock (LYNE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Order! I remind the honorable member that it is not in keeping with the traditions of this House to cast any reflection on the judiciary.

Mr DALY - I do not wish to trespass on your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker. 1 was pointing out that the charge could be levelled when the Government is giving an increase in salary of £40 a week to judges of the High Court and only 9d. a day to the pensioners. The Government is laying itself open to the charge that it is guilty of patronage to a privileged section of the community. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has said that the time is inopportune to increase these salaries. The Government claims that the economy cannot stand increases and privileges for other sections of the community. It claims that the economy cannot permit a 40-hour week or less. The Government is clamping down on desirable increases for every other section of the community. Pensions have been increased by a minimum amount of 9d. a day. Child endowment has not been raised for ten or twelve years. There has been no increase in a wide range of benefits for which the people were looking. If these things are denied to people in the lower and less-privileged income groups, on what grounds can any government justify an increase in salary of £40 a week, or £6 a day, to persons who are already receiving £8,500 a year? I remind honorable members that the estimate of £6 a day is based on seven days a week and the average is more on a five-day week, while the hours observed by the court are generally from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This proposal shows that the Government bas gone crazy on high salaries for the higher strata of society. Public Service salaries recently were increased in the higher ranges by £20 a week to £7,000 a year. Now the judges' salaries are to be increased by £40 a week. But down the line, workers are denied miserly increases by 'the direct intervention of the Government. If salaries are to be increased, let the benefits be spread over the whole range. Family men cannot get higher wages, and the Government claims that things are so bad that it has taken back the miserable 5 per cent, concession in income tax that it gave last year so that it can make ends meet. By what reasoning can the Government say that this is an opportune time to introduce this measure?

Some of the judges who will receive this increase of £40 a week in their salaries have denied to workers in industry any increase in wages because they say the economy cannot afford it. The judges will not have to take work at the week-ends to bolster their incomes. Apparently it is all right for judges on £200, or £160, a week to say that the economy cannot afford an increase in workers' wages, but they are prepared to take this increase in their salaries: and the Government agrees that such an increase is justified. The only reason given is that these are privileged positions, the integrity of the judges must be preserved, and they must not be subject to outside approaches or anything of that sort.

The honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) mentioned the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick). I think that he must have made, in his own way, a financial sacrifice to come into this Parliament. Other members on this side have done so in other days, and no doubt various men in other spheres of activity have made great monetary sacrifices in order to serve their country. Why place the judiciary outside and above that? Why should not men prepared to serve on the highest court in the land be prepared to take reasonable salaries? Why should their honesty and integrity have to be bought at tremendous cost - to the extent of increases of up to £40 a week? What justification can there be for it? I am not one who subscribes to the view that there are not many people in the ranks of the judiciary to-day who would be quite prepared to serve on the High Court of Australia at very reasonable salaries, instead of the exorbitant amounts offered to-day as what might be said to be a form of patronage, the ground being that this is done in order to see that they are completely immune to outside considerations.

When all is said and done, I suppose there are no more important positions than those of Ministers of the Crown, positions that directly involve the well-being of the people; yet if it were suggested that, in order to ensure the integrity of Ministers, it was necessary to pay salaries comparable to those proposed here, there would be an outcry. In all spheres of activity, right down the line, people are called upon to shoulder great responsibilities in positions requiring a high degree of integrity, but without the emoluments involved in this instance. I do not know how honorable members will justify these increases to their electors. I hope that my Country Party friend, the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson), who has continually interjected during this debate, will go forth into his electorate and try to justify increases of up to £40 a week for judges, when at the same time people who work in industry and on the farms have been refused increases, and people dependent on pensions and other social services have been given only a miserable increase, on the ground that the economy cannot afford more. You cannot possibly justify this by any stretch of the imagination. No reasonable grounds have been advanced for the increases except the need to ensure integrity and honesty in those who hold judicial positions. In that respect, it would be interesting to know whether any approach or request was made to the Government by the judges for an increase of salary. Who decided on this basis? By what method was it worked out? Certainly it was a different method of compilation from that applying to people in industry, people on wages, who are dependent on margins and so on for their income.

Therefore, I join with other members on this side in opposing this proposal, and while I regret the necessity to offer criticism of the judiciary in this respect, at the same time I feel that we should not be called upon to agree to these exorbitant increases running up to £40 a week, or £6 a day for seven days a week. Exorbitant in the extreme! The fact that the Government has brought in this proposal in the dying hours of the session, in the last sitting before the Parliament is prorogued, indicates that it is frightened. It is doing this in the middle of an economic crisis. This shows that the Government, no matter what its intentions, might be subconsciously influencing the judges on the various tribunals which will be called upon to adjudicate on wage applications and other things at a time of economic crisis.

Mr Aston - You have a suspicious mind.

Mr DALY - You cannot escape it. I do not have a suspicious mind. I am just objectively telling you the reaction of the workers outside. How can you possibly induce industry, and the people of this country, to support the Government's economic policy when the people can look on one side and see a judge getting an increase of £40 a week, while on the other side the man in industry, working at his bench, is denied any increase at all because of the intervention in the court, by this same Government, which said that the economy could not afford it. It is just the same as telling the worker that the country cannot afford to give him an increase of 2s. a week, while on the other side of the ledger he can see General Motors-Holden's Limited making £15,000,000 profit. You just cannot work it out in terms like that.

I cannot see how honorable members opposite can justify these increases while at the same time increases have been denied right down the line through a very wide section of industry. I wish, Mr. Deputy Speaker - but I feel certain from the look on your face that you will not let me do it - that I could run right down the wide range of things that should be done in this country from the economic point of view, and the wide range of people desirous of increases in order that they might keep "body and soul together and rear their families, and point to the thousands and thousands of pensioners who cannot live on their pensions with the miserable increase of 9d. a day that was given to them. I wish I could point out to those people that this Government considers judges are worth an extra £40 a week. It would be different if the judges were on only £40 a week now, but this amount is on top of salaries of £8,500 or £6,500 that they are receiving at present. There is no justice, no honesty in this approach. In no possible way can it be justified in view of the position of the average person.

It is said that judges will not come from the State Supreme Courts unless the offer in the Federal sphere is better. I have yet to learn - and it is a tragic state of affairs if it is so - that those people occupying judgeships decide on monetary grounds where they will go. I was one who thought that the men who went to these positions had higher motives, and were people who desired to serve the country in the highest capacity. Of course, I dread to think, knowing what can happen under this Government, that some day the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) might be sitting on £8,500 a year in one of those jobs. In this we can see the possibility that there could be a man who might desire to serve, without the ability to serve, and might get the salary.

I conclude by saying that at a time when wages are frozen, when we are told that our economic position has never been worse, when people in all walks of life cannot get increases to enable them to meet inflated costs, I cannot see any justification for these tremendous increases that are to be made almost overnight. This Government deserves to be condemned for, amongst other things, seeking by stealth to introduce a measure that it was not prepared to bring in and allow to be debated logically at a time when full consideration might be given to it. Mr. Deputy Speaker, I have been interrupted by the honorable member for Ballaarat (Mr. Erwin). He said, " Sit down ". It is the only speech he has made this session. T am delighted to conclude my speech at a time when he has made his only speech. With other honorable members on this side I oppose the measure.

Sir Garfield Barwick - Mr. Deputy Speaker-

Mr Pollard - If you speak now you will close the debate.

Sir Garfield Barwick - I had proposed to do so.

Mr Pollard - That is hardly fair.

Sir Garfield Barwick - I am thinking about the time.

Mr Pollard - I am not concerned about the time. I should like to speak on the measure.

Sir Garfield Barwick - Well, it will have to be on the wicket.

Mr Pollard - What do you mean, " It will have to be on the wicket " ? You are trying to intimidate me.

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