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Wednesday, 28 March 1973
Page: 820


Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) (Prime Minister) - I hope that the House will pass this Bill promptly because, if it does not, I will be still subject to surcharge for my generosity to the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony). I took it upon myself to authorise the payment to him of S5.000 a year. There is no statutory authority for doing so. The only statutory authority up to this stage has been for an income of S2.500 a year for him. I have been warned that I may be surcharged for the difference. 1 cannot afford to be out of pocket at that rate. I rise, apart from that purely personal plea, throwing myself on the mercy of the House, to answer one matter and that is the subject of the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Country Party, the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair). It is proposed that the Leader of the Country Party should have the same salary and allowances as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

Let me go through the present position of the Leader of the third Party - the Leader of the Country Party; the proposals that were made by Mr Justice Kerr: the Bill that was brought in by the previous Government; and the present Bill. The present Act provides that the Leader of the third party should have a salary of $2,500 a year and an allowance of S750 a year. Mr Justice Kerr recommended that he should have a salary of S4.800 a year and a special allowance of S 1,400 a year. The Bill which the previous Government introduced provided for him to have a salary of $4,150 a year. The present Bill provides for him to have a salary of $5,000 a year, an allowance of SI. 500 a year. His travelling allowance will increase from S28 a day to $36 a day. The leader of the third party is the only office bearer in the Parliament for whom this Bill makes more generous provision than was recommended by Mr Justice Kerr.

The principles that have been enunciated by members of the Country Party - that the salary and allowances of the leader of the third party should be equivalent to those of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition - never occurred to anybody before. They have occurred only when the present holders of those positions were elected to them. Mr Justice Kerr recommended that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition should have a salary not of S5.000 but of $7,500, and the leader of the third party should have a salary not of $2,500 but of $4,800. The Country Party proposition is that the leader of the third party should have a salary of $7,500. Mr Justice Kerr recommended that the salary of the leader of the third party should be a little less than doubled; the Bill provides that it should be doubled; and the amendment is that it should be trebled. The Government does not accept that proposition. In no other case has the Government proposed a salary greater than that recommended by Mr Justice Kerr. In this case alone we are recommending a salary greater than that recommended by Mr Justice Kerr - admittedly only $200 more - but we believe that the proposition that the Parliament should be asked to grant an increase of $2,700 more than recommended by Mr Justice Kerr is unreasonable.

Personalities do not come into it; it is the position that counts. All the recommendations and all the precedents establish that there should be a differential. We do not believe it is reasonable to treble the present salary for this position alone. We have made a more generous increase for it pro rata than for any other position. Let me sum up: The leader of the third party in the House will receive not $2,500 in salary as at the moment but $5,000 under the Bill. He will have an allowance not of $750 as at present but of $1,500 a year under the Bill. He will have a daily travelling allowance not of $28 as at the moment but of $36. More than any person in the Bill, the leader of the third party is being treated with generosity.







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