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Thursday, 20 May 1920

Mr WISE (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) (Postmaster-General) - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follow : -

1.   The number of non-official officers (semiofficial, allowance, and receiving) in 1913-14 was 7,269, and the total amount of their remuneration for that year was £248,525.

2.   The number of non-official officers in 1918-19 was 7,233, and the amount of their remuneration for that year was £291,872.

Mr.NICHOLLS asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -

1.   Whether it is a fact that allowance postmasters have not' had their scale of allowance increased during the past eight years?

2.   Do allowance postmasters in receipt of an allowance less than £100 per annum receive any allowance for rent or for lighting and cleaning the premises used by them as a post office?

3.   Is it the intention of the Minister to increase the allowances of allowance postmasters, in view of the enormous increase in the cost of living?

4.   Is it a fact that the Department is making huge profits out of the allowance post offices, and losing money on a great many of the official post offices?

5.   Is it a fact the Department has allowance post offices at which, for an allowance of less than 10s per week, it expects the allowance postmaster to he in attendance from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. to perform the following duties: - Sale of postal notes and stamps, registration of articles, receipt and despatch of mails, attend to telegraphic and telephonic communications, and also to pay for lighting and cleaning of premises?

6.   Do allowance postmasters at larger post offices have to work up to fourteen hours per day for less than £3 per week, doing Government Savings Bank work, money order, postal notes and telegraphic and telephonic communications?

7.   If such is the case, will the PostmasterGeneral see that such officials work reasonable hours and receive for such a reasonable remuneration ?

8.   Do allowance postmasters get any annual holidays; if not, will the Minister consider their claims for such holidays on full allowance?

9.   Does the Department compel allowance postmasters to porterage mails to and from railway stations without extra payment for same; if so, will the Minister see that such officials are paid for the extra labour that they perform?

10.   Does the Department pay allowance postmasters the fees which are due to them for messenger and detention fees? .

Mr WISE - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follow : -

1.   No.

2.   Yes. 3.I am investigating the question of allowances to non-official officers.

4.   No. Even where the revenue of an allowance post office exceeds the expenditure, it does not follow the Department is making a profit on the business from which that revenue is derived.

5.   The duties referred to are performed at allowance post offices, but, as the allowance is fixed according to the business done, the volume must be comparatively small at an office receiving 10s. per week. Such offices are supposed to be conducted in conjunction with a business from which the postmaster derives his livelihood and which requires his attention during the hours the post office is open.

6.   No.

7.   See answer to 6.

8.   The Department does not provide holiday relief. Provision in this respect was covered in framing the scale of payment.

9.   No.

10.   Yes.

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