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Tuesday, 6 April 1971

Senator BYRNE (QUEENSLAND) - 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. For some time the Senate has been concerned with the method of fixing and adjusting the salaries of certain officers of public instrumentalities. The view has been expressed in this chamber that, as an alternative to the arbitrary and sporadic method at present being followed, which depends on a Bill amending the statutes governing the instrumentalities coming before the Parliament, a composite Bill to determine such salaries should be introduced. 1 have reason to believe that, whilst the Government's disposition is to follow such a course of action, there are numerous technical problems in doing so. Will the Minister, after the coming short recess, present a brief paper or make a statement on the matter and the difficulties being encountered in meeting the views expressed in the Senate as to the course of action ;o be taken?

Senator Sir KENNETHANDERSONIt is a fact that there is before the Senate at the present time a Salaries Bill which contains a device in the form of a schedule and which is calculated to use a pedestrian Bill to meet a situation. 1 would not reflect upon it now because it is on the business paper and the Leader of the Opposition has the right to resume the debate on it. It is true that over the last 2 or 3 years the Senate has put its mind to the vexing question of whether a certain thing should be 'as the Parliament determines' or should be done by the Executive or by way of something that is subject to disallowance, ft is equally true that the previous AttorneyGeneral, consequent upon views expressed in the Senate and decisions taken by 'the Senate, examined the matter. Who am I ro look into a crystal ball? lt may be that as a consequence of the introduction of the Salaries Bill - which I gather will not come up for debate today because we are not ready to deal with it - the matter will be posed in debate. T may then get an opportunity and the vehicle to comment on the overall question. It is not a cut and dried issue. For a variety of reasons alternative action may be desirable. I do not wish to pre-empt what I will have to say. If I do not use the vehicle of the Salaries Bill to comment, I will certainly make a subsequent statement as suggested by Senator Byrne.

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