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Thursday, 17 November 1938

Mr MAKIN (Hindmarsh) .- I took strong objection to this bill on the second reading, and I feel that I should again register my protest against this unwarranted claim, on the public exchequer, which results from the great anxiety of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) to placate the conflicting elements among his supporters. The attitude of the Government is in striking contrast to that of the Labour Government of New Zealand. Whereas in the Commonwealth an inner group of Cabinet has been formed, in New Zealand the government has taken the ' opportunity to grant responsibilities to its supporters in parliament. To avoid hurt to any Minister who has been left out of the inner group, there is to be extra emolument. If members on the Ministerial side of thu chamber did their legitimate duty they would share to an even greater degree than they do the responsibility with which they have been entrusted ; but on all occasions they evade that responsibility. This Government has been more recreant to its trust in the direction of accepting direct responsibility than any government which has occupied the Treasury bench. The record of the Bruce-Page Government took some beating, but I believe that this Government, in its delegation of authority and power to boards, commissions, and like bodies-

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable member is not confining his remarks to the clause.

Mr MAKIN - I am endeavouring to show that this extra amount is not warranted. Rather than being prepared to exercise the executive authority entrusted to them, the members of this Ministry have narrowed the limits of responsibility to an even greater degree than they have been narrowed at any time in the previous history of this Parliament. Authority and power have been delegated to commissions and boards. The claim that Ministers are over-worked cannot therefore be sustained. When we realize the hopeless incompetence of the majority of those who occupy the front Ministerial bench, we must come to the conclusion that the claim for an additional amount of £1,650 is not justified, more particularly as the Government refuses to do anything during the approaching Christmas season to relieve in any way the position of those who are unfortunately circumstanced. Ministers will be hard pressed to make an adequate explanation of their conduct. There has been no attempt to justify this measure. Apart from the Minister who introduced it, no Minister has sought to substantiate the claim for the extra amount. I invite the Postmaster-General (Mr. Archie Cameron), even at this belated hour, to give some justification for the attitude of the Government. He would be hard pressed to" justify the proposed addition to the already costly list of salaries, for the maintenance of those who to-day occupy places on the treasury bench. I throw out that challenge, to him. Some members of the present Cabinet do not know how long they are likely to continue in office, because of the grave insecurity of their position even in their own party. I join with the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. "Ward), and honorable members of the Opposition generally, in protesting most vigorously against the proposal to increase the salaries of Ministers at this particular time.

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