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Tuesday, 12 December 1911

Senator McGREGOR (South Australia) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) - - I wish to disabuse the minds of honorable senators of any idea that there is not sufficient work to employ the time of any gentleman occupying the position of Industrial Registrar. Those who have had anything to do with the Arbitration Court are well aware of that fact. Senator Keating has asked if there is any precedent for this provision. I do not know that there have been other instances where a minimum and a maximum salary have been fixed in an Act of Parliament ; but I do know that there have been instances where the salary has been fixed in an Act of Parliament.

Senator Keating - As in the case of the Auditor-General and the High Commissioner.

Senator McGREGOR - Why was the salary of the Auditor-General fixed by Act of Parliament? To put it beyond party influence. Why should the Industrial Registrar, who has to deal with the registration of organizations, and who has, in many instances, to act judicially, be treated differently ?

Senator St Ledger - Surely he cannot act in a judicial capacity ?

Senator McGREGOR - Oh, yes. He has to exercise a good deal of judgment when he is permitting the registration of certain associations. He has power to refuse to register, and sometimes he has had as many as five counsel appearing before him in connexion with an application for registration. It is a position of far more importance than many honorable senators seem to imagine. The question of creating this office and fixing the salary has for some time engaged the consideration of the Government, and, recognising that the sooner it was done the better, this provision was inserted in the Bill. I have given all the explanation which I think ought to be required with respect to its insertion. There is not anything irregular about the matter, lt is quite open and above-board. The appointment of an Industrial Registrar is necessary, and we consider that the work he has to do justifies the salary he is to receive. We also think that the increasing volume of work justifies the statutory increase which is proposed for him. I do not think that I have left unanswered any of the points which have any serious bearing on the clause. As regards the gentleman who occupies the office, I have already explained that he is an officer of the 'High Court, and the salary he receives is between ^350 and ^400 a year. But the experience not merely of this Government, but of every other Government which, has come into contact with this gentleman in his work, has justified the opinion that no more eligible officer can be found anywhere.

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