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Tuesday, 9 December 1930


Senator OGDEN (Tasmania) .- The failure of the Government to call upon all members of the Public Service to share in the sacrifices necessary at this time of trouble is attributable to the promise made on the platforms at the last election by every Labour candidate, that there would be no reduction of salaries. The billwe have before us is an endeavour to give effect to that promise, but theLabour party is still guilty of the charge of having reduced salaries above £725. When every one is suffering, the wool-grower, the wheat-grower, the dairyfarmer, the fruit-grower, the artisan, the unskilled worker, and the State public servant, and when there is a. tremendous reduction of national income, the Commonwealth Public Service should share in any sacrifice that is necessary. The argument advanced by Senator O'Halloran that it is the duty of arbitration courts to deal with questions affecting wages does not apply. Serious maladies require desperate remedies. In a time of crisis any machinery, arbitration courts or otherwise, that might prevent a return to prosperity should be cast aside in the interests of the public welfare. If a man's house is on fire, he does not wait till the five brigade arrives. Ho turns on a hose in an attempt to extinguish the flames. Had the Government shown a reasonable disposition to reduce administration costs, a lot of our difficulty in financing the affairs of this country would have been avoided. There would have been more confidence on the part of our investors. It was not expected of this Government that it would attempt to balance the budget solely by increasing taxation, and by so doing make it more difficult, if not impossible, to bring about the country's financial recovery.

One of the chief decisions of the Melbourne conference was that there should be some serious attempt at economies, but this Government has made no attempt to economize. I regard it as selfish on the part of the federal public servants not to offer to share in any sacrifice which is necessary at the present time. In Tasmania the salaries of State public servants have been reduced from the top to the bottom. Not only are wages taxed, as is being done in South Australia, but servant girls in receipt of £52 a year have been called upon to contribute 3d. a week to help the State to get out of its difficulties. These servant girls are really making this sacrifice in order that Commonwealth public servants earning up to £725 a year may go free. It is a dastardly and cowardly shame that the Federal Government has taken up this attitude. The Federal Labour party either will not, or cannot, realize the seriousness of the situation, or is pandering to a section of the community whose support it seeks. During the recent election, each issue of the official organ of the Postal Workers Union blatantly advocated the defeat of the Nationalist Government and the return of Labour, because the Labour party had promised not to reduce salaries. It was the essence of selfishness. Is there no public spirit left in the community? I believe, with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce), that the Commonwealth public servants would gladly share in the burden of sacrifice. At least that is what they tell me. Why are honorable senators of the Labour party trying to shelter a well-paid and wellcared for section, of the community? There is no earthly reason why all Commonwealth public servants should not, in the face of the falling cost of living, make some sacrifice to enable this country to get out of its difficulties. Very few of them are receiving less than £250 a year, and, I think, that even at this late hour the Government should see that all bear their share of the sacrifice. As Senator Colebatch- has said, the time is soon coming when the Government will no longer be able to meet the requirements of the Service, and, eventually, economic pressure will force the public servant to accept a reduction in salaries, despite the wishes of the present Government.







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