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Wednesday, 14 August 1974
Page: 872

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - I ask the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation: Is it a fact that members of Repatriation Boards have not received salary increases or national wage adjustments since 1972? Is that because the relevant section of the Repatriation Act was amended last year to bring salary variations for Board members under the determination of the Remuneration Tribunal? Does the Government have the power under the Act to adjust the remuneration paid to Board members before a determination is made by the Tribunal? If so, will the Minister give urgent consideration to the restoration of wage justice to the officers concerned?

Senator WHEELDON (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Repatriation and Compensation) -Senator DrakeBrockmanis correct in saying that the salaries of the members of the Repatriation Boards are subject to a determination by the Remuneration Tribunal and that these officers have not received a wage increase since 1972. They are in a rather similar position to a lot of people, including ourselves. The fact of the matter is, of course, that a number of anomalies have developed because statutory officers have not been receiving increases while other persons who are not statutory officers or who are not subject to the Remuneration Tribunal have been receiving increases. We find in the Department of Repatriation and Compensation that relatively junior officers are receiving considerably higher salaries than people who have very great responsibilities. That is also the case with members of the Repatriation Boards.

This situation has resulted from a decision taken by the Senate. Presumably those honourable senators who voted against the determinations of the Remuneration Tribunal knew what they were doing when they did so. As Senator Drake-Brockman would no doubt imagine, in recent days I have received communications from a great number of aggrieved officers of the Department of Repatriation and Compensation and members of various boards reminding me of what has happened. The Government is considering the matter at the present time. Beyond saying that there is very little that I can add. The decision was taken- I understand that it was taken with the support of the whole Parliamentthat the conditions of employment of those officers ought to be the subject of a determination by the Remuneration Tribunal. Having decided that, if the report of the Remuneration Tribunal is rejected by the Parliament there seems at first sight to be not a great deal that one can do.

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