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Thursday, 20 May 1920

Mr McWILLIAMS (Franklin) . - I cannot support this Bill. I did not have an opportunity of expressing my opinion on the question on the last occasion, because just when I rose to speak the time for adjournment was approaching, and I did not want to be accused of talking the motion' out, because that would not have been a fair way of dealing with it. I have always said that the payment of members of this House is not equitable, or based on that equality of sacrifice which, is really a maxim in all our text-books on political economy. For instance, there is no equality of sacrifice between, the man who lives close to Parliament House, and can sleep at home every night, and who represents a small city area, and another man who comes from a distant State, and cannot get home unless he loses a week of his parliamentary duties, or, in some cases, more. In my own case I have been to my home once since I started on my election, campaign. During the whole of that period my time has been occupied in duties which necessitated my attendance in Melbourne, especially during the strike.

From my stand-point, however, in discussing this measure, all that is beside the question. When, the proposal was made to raise the salary from £400 to £600, I took precisely the same attitude as I am taking to-night.

Mr Hector Lamond - And took the salary, too.

Mr MCWILLIAMS - I took the same attitude then as I take now, that if Parliament deems that the remuneration of its members is insufficient, despite what has been said by the Prime Minister, the proper method to follow is to introduce the Bill in tho last session of the Parliament. I would not be afraid to go to the electors and quote to them some of the 'cases that have been put forward by hon- orable members in this House. I am not going to say that the present system offers a fair remuneration for men who have to come to Melbourne for perhaps three-quarters of the year, and to devote the whole of their time to their parliamentary duties, as compared with others whose homes are in Melbourne, and who do not have to make those sacrifices. Despite what has been said by the Prime Minister, my view is that the Bill should be introduced in the last session of a Parliament, and then, if the electors refuse to indorse the increase, that will be the very best reason why we should not increase the salary ourselves. That is the stand I take. I shall not labour it. I simply want to register my position. I do not think it right for the House in the first session of a Parliament, after an appeal to the country, to do what I am sorry to say the Parliament did in my own State quite recently, and what it is now proposed to do here. The proper course is to introduce the Bill in the last session, and let the electors decide to send back men who are or are not in favour of an increase. I know that there are men in this House who, at more than one election, have deliberately stated that the pay was not sufficient, and that, if elected, they intended to vote for an increase. Those men have come back. I do not say that the question should be submitted to the people by referendum, but if the Bill was introduced in the last session of an expiring Parliament members could put the case before "the electors fairly and squarely. Then, if the electors were not in favour of that increase, they would return members to give effect to their opinion.

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