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Thursday, 17 November 1938

Mr CASEY (Corio) (Treasurer) . - 'While the words of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) are still ringing in the ears of honorable members, I should like to refer to the resignation in March, 1937, of the honorable member for Henty (Sir Henry Gullett) , to which reference was made. It is true that no Minister was appointed to replace that honorable gentleman until, I think, November of the same year - a gap of about eight months.

Mr James - That was after the elections.

Mr CASEY - As I have attempted, by way of interjection, to advise the honorable member for Hunter, the amount that was being drawn by the honorable member for Henty reverted to the Treasury, and was not drawn by the Cabinet as a whole or by any member of it.

Mr Ward - The matter was fixed up this afternoon after the question was asked.

Mr CASEY - That is typical of the material which the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) produces. I am relating to the honorable member for Hunter and other honorable members the facts, not the distortion of them in which the honorable member for East Sydney indulges. I say again to the honorable member for Hunter, that the salary of the honorable member for Henty was not drawn by me, or by the Cabinet or any member of it; it reverted to the Treasury. No member of the Cabinet at that time was a penny better off by reason of the resignation of the honorable member for Henty.

Mr James - Where does that show in the budget?

Mr CASEY - I can show it to the honorable member in the budget papers.

Mr James - Why did the honorable gentleman not answer the question that I asked?

Mr CASEY - Because I had not looked into the matter and confirmed the facts. I interjected, but the honorable member chose to ignore my interjection. He entirely overlooked, in his references to myself, the fact that Senator Thomas Brennan was appointed an Assistant Minister at the same time as I was raised from the rank of Assistant Minister to that of a full Minister. Those two outstanding examples of the venality of the Government collapse of their own weight, as being completely untrue.

I have risen merely to . make some observations on the financial side of this measure. I shall attempt to make perfectly clear to honorable members the exact position that is being established. Two new full Ministers have been added and one Assistant Minister has been removed from the list of Cabinet members. The amount of £1,650 is being added to the Cabinet fund.

Perhaps I may make brief mention of the Cabinet fund, and of the way in which it is worked. For the future, eleven Ministerial salaries will be paid into a pool known as the Cabinet fund. From that pool, twelve full Ministers will be paid their salaries, in addition to three Assistant Ministers and three Whips. Also, a fund is being established from which the Cabinet will defray the cost of the entertaining it is obliged to do from time to time. This amount of £1,650, concerning which there has been so much dispute, will be added to the Cabinet fund, and from that amount two new full Ministers will have to be paid. The net result of this measure will be that every full Minister and Assistant Minister will receive less than he was previously drawing. That means that the amount being added to the Cabinet fund is quite insufficient, to maintain the rate of remuneration previously paid.

I remind honorable members that even before these reductions of Ministerial salaries are made as the result of this legislation, the salaries of Ministers in Canada and South Africa - and the latter Dominions are very much smaller in size than Australia - are appreciably more than are those of Ministers in the Commonwealth of Australia. The remuneration of a Cabinet Minister in Great Britain is appreciably more than double that of a Commonwealth Minister. I suggest that the responsibilities and anxieties of a Commonwealth Minister are not appreciably less - to put it mildly - than are those of Ministers in other self-governing parts' of the British Empire.

I thought that these .few facts in respect of our position should be made as clear as I could make them.

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