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Wednesday, 28 March 1973
Page: 810


Mr SPEAKER -Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The table read as follows) -

 

 


Mr WHITLAM - I add that the Government also proposes that the travelling allowances for members, Ministers and office-holders will in future be laid down by regulation and thu-, subject to the scrutiny of the Parliament.

Before 1 deal with the other major proposals in the Bill, I want to mention 2 further matters in relation to parliamentary salaries and allowances. The Government believes that machinery should be established for the future regular review of parliamentary salaries. Honourable members are aware that in the past there have been independent committees making recommendations to the government and governments putting proposals before the Parliament without independent inquiry. There have also been suggestions that parliamentary salaries should be tied automatically to some index. It is this Government's view that a tribunal should be established in order to put this whole matter on a regular basis with automatic reviews and, in respect of members' salaries, probably having automatic effect. Legislation to give effect to this intention will be put to the House as soon as possible.

The Government will also be bringing forward legislation to amend the Parliamentary retiring allowances scheme. The details have not yet been worked out but the legislation will be a considerable improvement on the current scheme - including, I would hope, adoption of the principles that, subject to a qualifying period, members should receive in their retirement a retirement allowance equal to half the salary determined from time to time for sitting members of Parliament and this retirement allowance will be increased by 2 per cent per annum for every completed year of service beyond the qualifying period up to a maximum of 75 per cent of a sitting member's salary.

I turn now to the salaries of the permanent heads of Public Service departments. Honourable members will recall that in 1971. proposals to increase the salaries of permanent heads were introduced into the House but did not go forward. The government at that time was continuing to give effect to a 2 level approach to the top Public Service positions. We do not believe that such a structure should be retained. The salary proposed for the senior level in 1971 was $29,250 per annum plus $1,750 per annum allowance. The legislation proposes that these amounts be applied to all permanent heads.

The legislation also deals with those statutory officers who are regarded as having a status related to that of First Division public servants. These positions have also been considered and the recommended salaries and allowances for these office holders are listed in the Bill.

There is also a group of statutory office holders whose salaries are related to the level of salaries paid to Second Division officers in the Public Service. Bills dealing with these statutory office holders were also introduced into the Parliament in 1971 and 1972 but not passed. It is now proposed to proceed with the salary adjustments which were then proposed thus retaining the relationship between these positions and the Second Division of the Public Service.

The Bill lists these officeholders and the salaries proposed together with any annual allowances currently paid. Additionally the Bill covers the salaries of Conciliation and Arbitration Commissioners and Deputy Public Service Arbitrators. The new salaries included for them are those which appeared in the legislation in 1971 and 1972.

The Government also proposes that the salaries and annual allowances for Commonwealth Justices and Judges including Presidential Members of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission should be adjusted, the last adjustment having been made in June 1969. The relevant salary increases for these high judicial offices are scheduled in the Bill.

The measures which the Government is now putting forward, particularly in respect of parliamentary salaries and allowances will, no doubt, come in for the usual criticism from certain sections of the community. The Government believes however that its proposals are reasonable, justified and timely. We make no apologies for recommending to the Parliament and to the people of Australia that members of Parliament receive an adequate salary commensurate with the importance of the task they are elected to perform. I commend the Bill. I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Leave granted to proceed with the debate forthwith.







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