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Thursday, 8 December 1960

Mr CURTIN (Kingsford) (Smith) . - With my colleagues, I am opposed to this clause. I do not believe that the time will be ripe for the proposed increases until the members of my organization, the Boilermakers Society of Australia, have had their wages increased. The members of my organization, day by day, produce the very things that we need in our everyday life. Honorable members opposite, particularly the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), get up and wail about how much these venerable old gentlemen of the High Court are receiving. I believe that the producers of this country's needs should be the first consideration. These men who sit on the bench are supposed to be intellectuals. They hear applications for awards by the producers of the Commonwealth.


Order! This bill deals with the High Court of Australia, not with industrial courts.

Mr CURTIN - I am taking the courts in general.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - The honorable member will deal with the High Court which is the subject of the bill.

Mr CURTIN - I think that the High Court is well provided for generally. I believe that more consideration should be given to the lower scale of incomes - to the basic wage-earner for instance. Honorable gentlemen opposite keenly appreciate the action of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in freezing the basic wage.

The Government has claimed that the economy of the country is in danger. It has said that we cannot afford wage increases because they will increase inflation. Yet an increase of £2,000 a year, or £40 a week, is proposed for these venerable old gentlemen, some of whom are 70, 75 or close on 80 years of age and should be retired. In addition, some Government supporters say that this increase is not sufficient and that it should be tax free.

The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) has had quite a lot to do with these gentlemen in the course of his employment. In speaking on this bill he has engaged in side issues and has become abusive to my colleagues in general. I resent his remarks. After all, he is getting himself down to the level of the street corner lout with some of the language that he has used in this Parliament. If he can insult my colleagues morning, noon and night, I think it is right for me to tell him what I think of him. Until such time as the basic wage is increased considerably, and until the boilermakers of Australia and the engineers, the real producers, have their wages increased I shall oppose with all the strength at my command any increase for any of the so-called intellectuals of the courts.

Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick) put -

That the question be now put.

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