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Thursday, 8 December 1960

Mr PETERS (Scullin) .- Mr. Temporary Chairman,the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) has said that the opera tion of this bill is being made retrospective in order to make the higher salaries payable from about 1st October, when the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) announced the Cabinet's decision that these salaries be increased. I grant that that statement is correct. However, I remind the committee that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), in his Budget speech, announced that age pensions were to be increased, and that we on this side of the chamber endeavoured to have the increases in pensions made retrospective to 1st July - the beginning of the financial year - and, when we failed in that, to the date on which the announcement was made in the Budget speech. This would have given age pensioners about £1 more, but the Government said, " We cannot possibly do that". Yet, in this instance, it takes the view that it can make legislation retrospective in order to give to judges more than £300 in back pay.

If it is correct, as the Attorney-General has said, that the only reason for the retrospectivity in this instance is to date the new rates of salaries back to the date on which the Prime Minister announced the Government's intention to increase judges' salaries, a similar course should have been adopted with respect to age pensions. But it was not. I think that this circumstance reveals in all its stark nakedness the hypocrisy of the Government.

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