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Wednesday, 28 March 1973
Page: 819

Mr KATTER (Kennedy) - Mr Speaker, may I first of all pay a tribute to your patience and impartiality. I know that you have been tried, particularly by members of the Opposition because they are drooling, they are happy and they are jubilant. They are working out what they are going to do with their big fat pay cheques.

Mr Keogh - You mean members of the Government.

Mr KATTER - That is right, the Government. I cannot get used to it, and I am not trying because it is only a temporary situation. What I would like to make perfectly clear is that, as has been mentioned here by my 2 colleagues, in the Country Party room today there was a display of complete loyalty not only to our Leader (Mr Anthony) but to the great number of people in the vast wealth producing areas we represent. We consider the Government's attitude a slight on our Party and on its great and tremendous responsibilities. We were united to a man that we could not possibly accept the Government's proposition.

We have before us tonight the proposition which was originally placed before our Leader by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). If one were inclined to be a little suspicious one might perhaps think that the Prime Minister suffered a change of heart because some of the polls that have been published show that our Leader is rapidly gaining ground. They show that he has the confidence of the whole nation. I suppose that because of this any Prime Minister would be getting a little concerned. The other telling argument is that in 1942 there was a clear and precise precedent, as was mentioned by my colleague the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon), when the then Leader of the Opposition was paid £1,200.

Mr Nixon - Does the honourable member mean dollars?

Mr KATTER - Dollars? If that amount is in dollars, then it was not enough. At that time his deputy was paid nothing. I am not suggesting for a moment that we should revert to this position. But the precedent is that the then Leader of the Country Party was paid $800. Surely to goodness we have here a clear cut indication of status.

There are one or two matters that I think have not been mentioned in the House tonight which relate to facilities provided to honourable members. 1 refer to secretarial assistance, which all of us need so desperately, and to office accommodation. All of this is tied up with the general conditions applying to honourable members.

Mr Keogh - I rise to a point of order, Mr Speaker. It might be advisable to bring the honourable member for Kennedy back to the contents of the Bill that we are discussing?

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Chair will decide that. The honourable member is »n


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