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Thursday, 1 May 1902

Mr THOMSON (North Sydney) - I very much regret that this matter should have been brought before the House. The section in the Constitution which providesthat the salary of the Governor-General shall not be altered during his continuance in office is a very good one, and was intended to prevent such invidious questions being raised in Parliament. It has been stated, by the Prime Minister that the proposed grant is not to be by way of additional salary, but the sum of £8,000 certainly goes beyond the range of allowances, and whatever it may be called amounts in effect to additional salary. AVe are told that the Governor-General is at the expense of maintaining two establishments. It may be admitted that we very often expect a great deal more' from our Governors, and from the Governor-General, than we are prepared to pay' for, and if we insist upon the Governor-General occupying two establishments, there may be some reason formakinganallowance which willenablehim to do so withoutdrawing on his private purse. But I hold that the Governor-General is merely required to do his duty to the Commonwealth. If he can discharge that duty by occupying one establishment only he is not called upon to occupy, two. If the fact of his limiting his occupancy to one establishment will give offence to any particular State, and that State desires his presence for a certain period during the year, it is only right that it should provide the necessary money for the purpose.

Mr Barton - I certainly should never advise the Governor-General to accept an allowance from a State.

Mi:THOMSON. - The right honorable gentleman may be quite right in taking up that attitude, but certainly he should not have sought to increase the GovernorGeneral's salary in the manner proposed when it is specifically stated in the 'Constitution that his salary shall not be altered during his term of office. I can quite understand that the States which are not visited by the 'Governor-General would strongly object to paying their share of the proposed allowances.

Mr Barton - They arc all visited.

Mr THOMSON - 'But the GovernorGeneral has not an establishment in all of the States. Allusion has been made to 'Canada, but I would point out that the Canadian constitution contains no such restriction as is imposed by the Commonwealth Constitution. In Canada Parliament may grant what it sees fit from year to year, according to the exigencies of the time. In the second place, if we take into consideration the relative population of the two countries we find that a salary of £12,000 in Australia corresponds to £17,000 in Canada. In this connexion surely the power of raising revenue with which to pay must be somewhat in proportion to the population. We cannot argue that 3,700,000 people can afford to pay the Governor-General the same salary as is contributed by a much larger population. For these reasons I say that we are not in a position to .give more than the £10,000 prescribed in the Constitution, together with reasonable allowances. Under the circumstances the proposal of the Government should never have been -submitted. It would have been infinitely better if they had recognised the position before the matter was brought before Parliament rather than that they should have submitted this Bill, and have been compelled to listen to the expression of antagonistic opinion with which it has been universally met. I have no objection to the proposal of the honorable and learned member" for Northern Melbourne, but I think it would be better either to withdraw the Bill and .introduce another measure in its stead, or to place a certain sum upon the Estimates. The expenditure which the Governor-General incurred upon the occasion of the Commonwealth celebrations was an exceptional one, and I should be very reluctant to ask him to provide it out of his own purse. The visit of Royalty was not an honour to the Governor-General, but to Australia ; and having sought for that honour, we ought to be prepared to pay for it. Therefore, I am quite in accord with the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne that we should provide a sum which will fully cover the expenditure of the Governor-General in connexion with the reception of Royalty and the establishment of the Commonwealth. So long as we stand by the 'Constitution, and make, not such allowances as will constitute another salary, but reasonable allowances to the Governor-General, I am perfectly satisfied.

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