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Wednesday, 31 May 1972
Page: 2387

The PRESIDENT - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The speech read as follows):

The purpose of this Bill is to provide for increased salaries for certain statutory office holders. I should say at once that this is not the beginning of a new round. It is in no sense an initiative but a remedying of the anomalies that arose from the action of Parliament in amending the Salaries (Statutory Offices) Adjustment Bill 1971.

It is customary for the salaries of full time statutory office holders in the group below the level of permanent heads of Departments of State to be reviewed whenever salaries for Second Division officers of the Commonwealth Public Service are increased. Such a review was undertaken following the determination by the Public Service Arbitrator of new salaries for Second Division officers, which took effect from 4th November 1971, and the Salaries (Statutory Offices) Adjustment Bill 1971 was introduced. .

The present Bill is required because of the amendments made last year to the Salaries (Statutory Offices) Adjustment Bill 1971 which had the effect of withholding from the statutory office holders referred to in the First Schedule to the Bill increases comparable with those which had been received by Second Division officers of the Commonwealth Public Service as a result of the determination by the Public Service Arbitrator. As was made clear at that time, those amendments were accepted by the Government only to avoid a situation where, because of the form of existing statutory provisions, some of the office holders would not have been entitled to any salary at all.

As indicated when the Salaries (Statutory Offices) Adjustment Bill 1971 was introduced, in the case of various other comparable statutory office holders approval had been given for increases of the same order be applied, subject to compliance with the requirements of relevant legislation. With a few exceptions, action for implementation of that approval had not been completed when the Parliament amended the Bill and, in view of the attitude taken by the Parliament, the increases were withheld from a considerable number of statutory office holders.

As foreshadowed by the Government during the debate on the earlier Bill, injustices have arisen from withholding the salary increases for this group of officers. There is a strong element of unfairness to them and the attractiveness of salary for new and vacant offices, for which the Government must attract suitable appointees, has been diminished. Serious anomalies have been created. For example, in some cases top staff now receive a higher salary than statutory office holders under whose direction they work, and some statutory officers now receive less salary than they would have received if they had remained in the Public Service. Examples can be given if desired.

The Bill provides for the salary increases to be effective from 4th November 1971. This is because that date was the effective date included in the Salaries (Statutory Offices) Adjustment Bill 1971, as originally introduced. In fairness to the officers affected by the unusual situation that followed the amendment of that Bill, the Government feels that there should be no departure from the original intention, which adopted the date of effect in the Public Service Arbitrator's determination for Second Division officers.

It is also customary for national wage case decisions of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, which are applied to the salaries of officers of the Second, Third and Fourth Divisions of the Commonwealth Public Service, to be applied also to these statutory office holders. Accordingly this Bill also provides for additional increases of $104 per annum in the salaries of these statutory office holders, following the 1971-72 national wage case decision handed down by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission on 5th May 1972. As in the Public Service, this increase will apply from 1st June 1972.

The Government considers that, in terms of equity and principle, the salaries for this group of officers should, as in the past, be kept in their proper relationship with the salaries granted by the appropriate authorities to Second Division officers of the Public Service.

The Bill also includes revised salaries for lay offices under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and offices of Deputy Public Service Arbitrator under the Public Service Arbitration Act. These salaries were reviewed separately in their own right and included in the Salaries (Statutory Offices) Adjustment Bill 1971 but were not approved by the Parliament. The revised salaries for Commissioners were also included in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1972 now before the Parliament. As originally intended, these increases will also be effective from 4th November 1971. As. in the past, this group will not receive national wage case adjustments.

Details of the salary changes involved have been circulated to all senators. I again emphasise that this Bill is .designed merely to complete the implementation of salary rates which have been paid to comparable Commonwealth officials as a. .result of arbitral decisions. I commend the Bill to the Senate.



Debate (on motion by Senator O'Byrne) adjourned.

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