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Wednesday, 19 May 1920

Mr TUDOR (Yarra) .- It has been brought to my notice that men who were in the Permanent Forces before the war, and joined the Australian Imperial Force, and have now come back to the Defence Department, have not been allowed even to take up their old positions, and are being paid less than before they went away, although their experience in actual warfare must have made them much better and more valuable soldiers. I am assured, too, that in some cases, while increases have been given to certain ranks, the higher officers have received increases amounting to more than the annual pay of those whom they are commanding; in other words, while increases may have been given to the rank and file, making their pay £156 a year, the increases given to some of the officers have been, as much as or more than £156 a year. I join with the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) in asking the Minister representing the Minister for Defence to see that the lower-paid men in the permanent service receive a fair deal. I believe that some of the married men are slightly better off than the single men.

Mr Lister - And' some of them are worse off.

Mr TUDOR - The honorable member, who represents Queenscliff, has no doubt a number of cases similar to- those to which I am drawing attention.

I would like the Acting Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) to note that, whereas the' cost of the Central Administration of the Defence Department in 1918-19, during part of which year the. war was still raging, was £51,746, the amount' set down for the present financial year is £102,907, or practically twice as much. The Treasurer (Mr. Watt) told us that he had attacked the Estimates with a meat axe, but something more is needed to deal ' with those who in peace time make the expenditure of a branch double what it was in war time. I take no exception to the increase in the Aviation Branch, because we know more of the need for an aviation service now than we did' even' two years ago. There may also be a reason for an increase in the expenditure on the Royal Military College.

Mr West - In ten of the twelve subDepartments of the Defence Department the amount asked for this year exceeds the expenditure of last year.

Mr TUDOR - Yes, and the total amount asked for this year is £276,000, while the expenditure last year was only £151,000.

It is not the desire of honorable members or of the country that an officer caste should be created here, but I know that some of those who have sent lads to Duntroon College complain gravely about the conditions of entrance. Candidates were not chosen because of the way in which they passed set examinations, and the examiners knew the antecedents of every one of them.

Mr West - The candidates were questioned as to their fathers' trade.

Mr TUDOR - Had my boy been one of them he would have been able to answer that I was a felt hatter. There should be no favoritism in regard to admissions to Duntroon College. All candidates should be on the same footing. There should be no questioning as to the social position of parents. It was never intended that social position should be considered. It was my privilege to accompany a deputation to the Assistant Minister for Defence (Sir Granville Ryrie) in reference to one of the Government Factories. During the war, those Factories were working, not only full time, but, in some cases, every hour of the day. The Harness and. Saddlery Factory was started in 1911 with sixty-five employees,- and now when we are at peace, they have been reduced to twenty-five, the last eight men to be dismissed being returned soldiers. The press was not represented at the deputation, but I do not think I am betraying confidence in referring to it. A great number of returned soldiers require saddlery and harness for the work they have taken up, and, in my opinion, the Defence Department and the Repatriation Department together, could keep this Factory going. Every honorable member opposite who was at the Front will admit that the equipment from this Factory was not only equal, but, in the great majority of cases, superior to that supplied by any other factory, whether Pritish, French, or of any other nation. When the Factory was started, the em ployees were drawn from all over Australia on account of their exceptional skill, and they had a' practical guarantee, this being a Government Factory, of a life job. The Minister promised the deputation to go very carefully . into the matter, and I think something will be done in the direction I have indicated. The other Government factories, perhaps, are not in the same position as the Saddlery and Harness Factory, but the Woollen Milte, if there is not sufficient work for them in connexion with the manufacture of cloth for the Defence Department, can find sufficient in the manufacture of cloth for other Departments. I hope the Government will not lightly decide to close up these factories. Those engaged in them did us good service during the war, and they should be remembered in peace time.

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