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Wednesday, 16 March 1927

Senator OGDEN (Tasmania) .- I am not so much concerned about whether the salary of the public servant, who is to enjoy the benefit of the child endowment policy, shall be £500 or £600 a* I am with what appears to be the reintroduction of political influence in the Public Service. I have always been opposed to interference by Parliament- in matters of this kind. What attitude would the Minister (Senator Pearce) take up if another member of this chamber submitted a motion to disallow an award of the Public Service Arbitrator because, the amount fixed was, in his opinion,, insufficient ? Obviously, he would at once charge the mover of. the motion with an attempt to break down the principle of arbitration. Is not the attitude of the Government to-day contrary to its attitude a few months ago, when it asked the people to endorse the principle of an allpowerful and dominant arbitration court, which should be above Parliament?

Senator Findley - That was yesterday. The honorable senator forgets that we are now in the day after yesterday.

Senator OGDEN - To-day, the Government is, in effect, asking Parliament to fix wages. The Ministry should be consistent. Under the law, the Arbitration Court has authority to determine the wages for the -State instrumentalities; and it expects the State departments to obey the law. Yet, by this motion, the Government, so it appears to me at all events, ia attempting to repudiate an award of an authority constituted by this Parliament. I object to that. I do not wish to see the vicious principle of political influence re-introduced into the Public Service. I have always deprecated it and I hope that we shall have no further evidence of it in this chamber. For these reasons, I intend to vote against the motion. Parliament should .not become a wage fixing authority.

Senator Pearce - The honorable senabor is in error in thinking that the Arbitrator fixed £500 as the maximum salary at which public servants should receive the child endowment. That was done by Public Service regulation to give effect to the Government policy.

Senator Findley - He had authority to do that.

Senator Pearce - But he did not do it. It was brought in by the Government as an act of policy.

Senator OGDEN - The Arbitrator had authority to raise it to £600. If the Parliament gave him that authority it is not right for us to interfere with him.

Senator Pearce - Child endowment was first paid, not under the determination of the arbitrator, but under a Public Service Regulation. This determination has to be laid on the table for 30 days. If Parliament takes no action to disapprove, then it stands.

Senator OGDEN - But it is operating now.

Senator Givens - Parliament reserves the right to disapprove any determination of the court.

Senator OGDEN - That, I think, is a wrong principle.

Senator Sir Henry Barwell - That is the position with regard to all regulations.

Senator OGDEN - Yes, but the motion now before the Senate deals with a wage fixing regulation, and it seems to me that the Government intention is to ask Parliament to fix the wages of the Public Service. I do not think we should interfere. If we do we should do away altogether with the arbitrator. In my opinion, the motion means the reintroduction of the very dangerous principle of political influence, and for that reason I shall vote against the motion.

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