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Tuesday, 11 December 1973
Page: 2649

Senator DONALD CAMERON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Labour) -Surely the objections raised by the honourable senator at that time and emphasised more clearly by Senator Wright when he took the example of a top public servant on $20,000 per annum and multiplied it by 30 to ascertain what his dependant would receive by way of compensation, have been rectified in the amendments moved by Senator Bishop.

Senator Byrne - No, the position has been altered but not necessarily rectified.

Senator DONALD CAMERON - The compensation has been reduced to a maximum of two and a half times the average weekly earnings which, at the present time, would amount to only something like $250 a week. In my view, that vastly improves the provision and meets the objections raised by Senator Byrne when we were discussing this matter previously. When Senator James McClelland spoke on the Bill he expressed certain doubts. He was very concerned that the purpose of the tactics adopted by the Opposition at the time was completely and entirely to defer the Bill indefinitely so that the employees of the Commonwealth would never receive the benefits proposed. During his contribution to the debate on Friday, 1 June 1973 Senator James McClelland said:

Despite his histrionics I suggest that this debate should not be on the merits of the Bill now before us but on the merits of the proposition that consideration of it by the Senate should be postponed indefinitely. I said 'indefinitely' advisedly. I will support these remarks fully in the course of what I have to say.

Senator JamesMcClelland went rn to say how he believed that Senator Wright and Senator Byrne were really making reference to hypothetical cases because they were picking out isolated instances of Commonwealth Government employees in top salaried positions where the prospects of their being totally and per.manetly incapacited would be very unlikely. Neither of these honourable senators could quote any specific cases. I think Senator Wright named somebody who was about 30 years of age. After inquiries were made it was found that nobody 30 years of age in the Commonwealth Public Service was in the top salary bracket receiving $25,000 or $30,000 a year. The fact that these cases are being put forward and used as a smokescreen to defer compensation payments to 300,000 odd Government employees is that the Opposition is deliberately trying to defer the consideration of this Bill so that its provisions will not be implemented during the lifetime of the present Government. For that reason I strongly oppose Senator Wright's motion that we report progress because I fear that if we do, the same thing will hapen in the autumn session next year and again in the Budget session next year. The Opposition has no intention of giving to employees of the Commonwealth these benefits which already are being enjoyed by all employees in South Australia. It is for that reason that I think we should continue to debate the amendments moved by Senator Bishop and put them to the vote.

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