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Friday, 25 November 1910

Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) - - As a member of the Library Committee, I think I may say without any breach of confidence that a meeting was held yesterday to consider the subject mentioned by Senator Givens. The result of our deliberations was to authorize applications to be called for. We certainly do not want a dry-as-dust man as a cataloguer. We desire to have a man who possesses that instinctive love of literature to which Senator Givens has referred - one who will be an enthusiast in his work. A certain salary will be fixed, and the making of the appointment has been left in the hands of Mr. Speaker, who, of course, will have an opportunity of consulting any members of the Library Committee whom he may think it desirable to consult. With reference to the return for which Senator Givens has asked, I venture to say that there- was ample time for the Government to have it prepared and laid before the Senate.

Senator Givens - The return could have been furnished in five minutes.

Senator NEEDHAM - If the return is not tabled before the Senate rises. I venture to make this statement-r-that there is a desire to shield some of those who, when the debate on the increase in salary took place, declared that they would not accept the extra remuneration, or that if they did they would pay the extra sum back into the Consolidated Revenue.

Senator McGregor - Does the honorable senator think it is fair to make a statement of that kind ?

Senator NEEDHAM - I say that the Government have had an opportunity -to table this return, the preparation of which certainly should not take more than halfanh'our.

Senator McGregor - That is all the honorable senator knows.

Senator GIVENS - It would not take as much as half-an-hour.

Senator NEEDHAM - There is nothing to be afraid of or ashamed of - except this. If a member of this Parliament who opposed the increase at that time has since accepted the extra money, his name ought to be known.

Senator Givens - The honorable senator means that if the member is going around wearing a martyr's halo, and it is undeserved, it ought to be taken off him.

Senator NEEDHAM - Quite so. I know of one case in which, while a member of Parliament protested against the increase, he still took the difference between £33 16s. 8d. and £50 per month, and distributed it amongst his constituents as a charitable dole. Thai money was not his. He said he would not take it. He gained whatever public credit he could for not taking it. Nevertheless he took it, and paid it away as a charitable dole - for what purpose? To fry and catch a few votes. I know of another member of Parliament who took up a very much more manly stand. I allude to Sir George Reid, our present High Commis- sioner. He said that he would not accept the increase,- because he did not believe that he had earned it. "He recognised that he could earn more money outside Parliament by the practice of his profession than he made by being here, and because he was not here all the time he did not think that an increase was necessary so far as he was concerned. But at the same time Sir George Reid recognised that there were other men in this Parliament whose whole time was devoted to their public work, and because he did not wish to deprive them of this increase, he voted for the Bill. But he said, " I will repay the difference into the Consolidated Revenue." I know for a fact that each month Sir George Reid accepted his cheque for £[50, and sent back his own private cheque for the difference, which was credited to the Consolidated Revenue. That was a very manly stand to take.

Senator Millen - One of the most illogical things he ever did !

Senator Vardon - His halo ought to be lit with electric light !

Senator NEEDHAM - There were, however, other members of Parliament who opposed and decried the increase because the people had not voted concerning it, but who, I am of opinion, have ever since pocketed the money. In any case there has been an opportunity for the Government of the day to prepare the return asked for, and lay it upon the table of the Senate, so that we might know who were the hypocrites and who were not.

Senator Millen - It is a personal matter then?

Senator NEEDHAM - It is not a personal matter at all.

Senator Millen - The honorable senator wants to know the names of the members.

Senator NEEDHAM - Why should they be ashamed of it?

Senator Millen - What does the honorable gentleman want the information for?

Senator NEEDHAM - They made certain statements in this Parliament, and why should they be afraid of having their subsequent actions in reference to the matter made known to the public?

Proposed vote agreed to.

Department of External Affairs.

Divisions 11 to 16 (Department of External Affairs), proposed vote, ,£107,217.

Senator VARDON(South Australia)

C3-56]- - I direct attention to the vote on account of the press cable service. I have been unable since the passage of the Bill relating to that matter to discover that we have obtained a much-improved cable service throughout the Commonwealth. What has happened was exactly what I expected. I have looked through a large' number of newspapers, and do not see that we are getting one pennyworth of value for our money. I do not believe that the cables now published are one whit better than they were in the past. The .£2,500 is, in my opinion, a waste of money.

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