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Thursday, 22 October 1931

Mr BEASLEY (West Sydney) . - This subject would not have been raised at this stage by the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Eldridge) had the Government not failed to keep a quorum in the House when it was brought up on the adjournment the other night. As we are likely to go into recess at the end of this week, the honorable member has taken the earliest opportunity to bring his complaint before the Government, so that some action may be taken to give relief to tlie employees at Garden Island. The question of privileges has again been raised. No one knows better than the Minister that the Arbitration Court, in fixing rates of wages, takes into consideration the privileges which are part of the conditions operating in government institutions.

Mr CHIFLEY (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I have pointed out that some of these employees are entitled to privileges, but others are not.

Mr BEASLEY - The Minister knows, from his advocacy in the court on behalf of the locomotive drivers, that the Railways Commissioners bring forward th, fact that the employees in the railway service, for instance, have concessions which are not enjoyed outside the service.

Mr CHIFLEY (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Government is nottaking any privileges away from these men.

Mr BEASLEY - Even if these privileges are not definitely stated in the awards, they are taken into consideration by the court in determining the rates of pay. Therefore, regarding the question of a public holiday falling due during the week for which a man is rationed, the Minister must admit that the man concerned is entitled to consideration with respect to payment for that day, particu- larly in view of the fact that the number of holidays during the year affect his general rate of wage as prescribed by award. These men are already being rationed, and it must be admitted that when they have to suffer a further loss of pay on account of holidays falling in the week for which they are rationed, their home life as a result of the reduction in income is seriously affected. The minister could meet this situation without any difficulty. He could declare that the employees must receive pay for any holiday falling due during the period for which they are rationed. The next point I wish to make, though I do not bring it forward for the purpose of putting the subject into any better form, has relation to returned soldiers. The Government claims that it is always solicitous for the welfare of these men. Honorable members on the opposite side of the chamber who are returned soldiers also endeavour at. all times to see that those who were associated with them on active service receive every consideration that they deserve in industry, and particularly in industries in which the Government is concerned. I wish those honorable gentlemen to appreciate that a very large percentage of the men engaged at Garden Island to-day are returned soldiers. Here is an opportunity for these honorable members to assist them.

Mr Parkhill - They have practically all been cleared out.


Mr BEASLEY - One or two employees who have been working at Garden Island over a long period of years on work which, in an indirect sense at any rate, was connected with the war, such as the refitting of troopships and the like, have been kept there, but as the Minister has indicated, the great majority of the workmen now on the Island are returned soldiers. But they are trade unionists, too, and on this occasion it is on that ground, and not because they are returned soldiers, that they are submitting their claims for consideration. In all the circumstances, I ask the Minister to see that all the privileges of these men in regard to holidays, annual leave, and the like, are preserved. If existing privileges are not definitely provided for in awards, the Government should see that they are not lost to the men.

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