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Thursday, 20 May 1920

Mr GIBSON (Corangamite) (12:10 PM) . - This is not a question of whether it is right or wrong that the salary of honorable members should be £700, £800, or £1,000, but whether it is right or wrong, at the present juncture, to fix the latter salary. Every man here had the same mind prior to the elections in December last that he has now. We hear honorable members who support the Bill making the statement that they are not afraid to speak their minds to their constituents, or afraid of what the press may say; but if they are not afraid now they ought not to have been afraid prior to December last. They knew when they were nominated that the salary would be £600, and not one word had been said before the expiration of the last Parliament that it was to be increased.

Mr Mathews - Are you in favour of submitting the price of wheat to referendum i

Mr GIBSON - I am not in favour of such a referendum. Before the elections honorable members would have been afraid to express the opinion that they express now, but now they say that they were not. That is a bold statement. A man who enters Parliament with a view to making money makes the mistake of his life; in any case, this is a wrong time to make a proposal of this kind. This Parliament has practically its three years to go, and honorable members who support the Bill are, apparently, of the opinion that the memory of the public is rather short, and that the increase will be forgotten before another election. I am sure that honorable members who reside in other States must have great difficulty in," carrying on " with a salary of £600 ; but I can hardly see how any difference could be made between States in this connexion. Members who are professional men living in Sydney may be compelled to sacrifice the whole of their private business, and depend on politics alone, whereas other professional members who live in Melbourne have to make no sacrifice at all, but rather find Parliament a benefit to their business. I am not saying that we would be overpaid at £1,000 a year, but the increase should not be made, in view of the fact that the electors were not made aware of any intention of the kind before the elections. There is one phase of the question which might well have found a place in the Bill. The Electoral Act prevents a candidate from giving money away prior to his election, andI think a like provision should be applied to him as a member. It is calls of the kind I suggest that reduce the salary to an amount too small for a member of the National Parliament. I am going to vote against the Bill. As I say, if the question had been raised prior to the election, the position would have been different, but no honorable member was "game" then to agitate for a salary of £1,000.

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