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Wednesday, 28 March 1973
Page: 809

Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) (Prime Minister) - This Bill brings together salaries proposals for members of Parliament including Ministers and office holders, judges, permanent heads of departments and statutory office holders whose salaries are related to First and Second Division salaries in the Public Service. I need not remind the House of the sorry history of salaries proposals for members of Parliament. Sufficient to say that when proposed in December 1971, salary increases were overdue and the proposals came at the end of wage adjustments for most other sectors of the community. The 1971 proposals, arrived at after the inquiry by Mr Justice Kerr, now Chief Justice of New South Wales, were not implemented. Members of Parliament have had no salary adjustments since 1968. The same goes for permanent heads. Judges' salaries were last adjusted inJune 1969. The measure before the House, therefore, is more than timely. The legislation will, if approved, have the effect of amending the Parliamentary Allowances Act 1952-1970 and the Ministers of State Act 1952-1971.

I turn now to the detail of the Bill. The current salary for members and senators is $9,500 a year. In December 1971 Mr Justice Kerr proposed that the salary should be $13,000 and that there should be a further review soon after the next general elections. We have now reached that stage and taking into account the trends over the intervening period, it is the Government's view that $14,500 a year is the very minimum towhich the basic salary for members should be raised. Members receive electorate allowances designed to help them meet those costs which arise from the duties of their office. The Government's opinion is that the distinctions which have been made in the past between the electorate expenses of members representing city and country electorates and between members and senators are not justified. Accordingly, the legislation proposes that all members of Parliament - senators and members of this House alike - should receive the same electorate allowance. The amount proposed is $4,100 - the amount recommended by Mr Justice Kerr for country electorates.

Under the previous administration there were Ministers and senior Ministers. In addition to their salaries as members, senior Ministers received $10,500 per annum; other Ministers received $7,500. Mr Justice Kerr proposed that these amounts should be raised to $13,300 and $9,500. The Government has decided that there should not be this distinction between Ministers. We are also proposing that the ministerial salary should remain at $10,500 per annum - the amount paid under the former Government to senior Ministers. The Deputy Prime Minister will also receive the same salary as his predecessor, $12,500 per annum. Mr Justice Kerr recommended that the Prime Ministerial salary should be raised to $27,000. The Government has adopted this recommendation.

As far as the special allowance for Ministers is concerned, the legislation now before the House basically applies Mr Justice Kerr's recommendations. The allowance proposed for the Prime Minister is $10,900 per annum, for the Deputy Prime Minister $5,200 per annum and for Ministers $4,875 per annum. The amendments proposed to the Ministers of State Act will provide for an appropriation to enable the payment of salaries to members at the levels I have mentioned. I add that during the period before the swearing in of the full Ministry - that is, from 5th to 18th December - the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Barnard) and 1 received the same salary as we had received as Deputy Leader and Leader of the Opposition, together with special allowances at the rates paid to our predecessors in ministerial office. Since the swearing in on 19th December, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Treasurer (Mr Crean) and I have been paid the same salaries as were received by our predecessors. All other Ministers have been paid at the one salary level based on an equal apportionment of the remainder of the annual appropriation under the Ministers of State Act 1952-1971. The Deputy Prime Minister and I continued to receive the special allowances which were paid prior to 19th December and all other Ministers since swearing in have received special allowance at the lower rate prescribed under the Act.

I do not propose now to list all details in respect of the other office-holders of the Parliament. These are contained in the Bill and honourable members will see that, in the main, a close relationship exists with the figures contained in the Kerr report. To assist honourable members further, however, I have had circulated a table setting out current parliamentary salaries and allowances and indicating where those rates will be varied by the proposals now before the House.

I ask leave to incorporate this table in Hansard.

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