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Thursday, 7 August 1930

Senator DALY (South Australia) (VicePresident of the Executive Council) . - I hope that the committee will reject the proposal. We have heard a good deal lately of the word "gesture." We are told that, we must make a gesture in this and that direction. The trouble is that we have been making too many gestures. It is time that Parliament realized its responsibility in this matter, and ceased making them. The purpose of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) in moving for a reduction of £1, is to accomplish a reduction of expenditure to the extent of £1,000,000. As a gesture to the rest of Australia, the right honorable senator suggests that the salaries of public servants and members of Parliament should be reduced. If this Parliament controlled the ' financial institutions of the country, it could find various ways of assisting to balance the ledger. But seeing that Parliament has not that control, honorable senators opposite pick out one section of the community to carry the burden. If that is a true definition of justice, I must say that my conception of justice hitherto has been erroneous. Why should one section of the community be. singled out to provide this £1,000,000? There is not one senator in this chamber who is prepared to point his finger at a public servant and say that he is overpaid.

Senator Sir George Pearce - The shearers have had to accept a reduction of wages amounting to 25 per cent.

Senator DALY - Their wages are fixed under a system of arbitration ; they have been reduced under that system. The salaries of public servants also are fixed by arbitration, and if they are to be reduced, they should be reduced by the proper method. Honorable senators admit that public servants earn every penny they receive, but they say that in the present circumstances their salaries should be reduced by 10 per cent.

Senator Sir George Pearce - The earnings of the community have come down 10 per cent.

Senator DALY - Not of that section which is in employment. I admit that the income of the unemployed has come down 100 per cent. The Leader of the

Opposition knows that, apart from wages which have been reduced under our arbitration system, there has been no general reduction of wages.

Senator Cooper - There has been a rationing of employment.

Senator DALY - There has been no suggestion that the whole of the employed section of the community should suffer a reduction of 10 per cent.; the proposal refers only to public servants. Only yesterday, honorable senators opposite strongly urged that graziers, doctors, lawyers, chemists, and others should be allowed to deduct from assessable income contributions to the Graziers Association, the Medical Association, the Law Society, and the Pharmaceutical Society. Yet those men are employed; many of them earn good money. They must be granted privileges in the way of deductions from income, but the civil servant is to be called upon to sacrifice 10 .per cent, of his earnings ! I say, unhesitatingly, that such a proposal is dishonest, and that the Government will not stand for it.

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