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Thursday, 20 May 1920

Mr FENTON (Maribyrnong) .- Last night the Acting Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) said that when introducing this Supply Bill he would give us some information in regard to the general Defence policy of the Government, more particularly with reference to certain points raised by honorable members. For instance, the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) asked for information in regard to the purchase of plant for the Arsenal.

I understand that there are about twenty-nine vacancies in the Taxation Department which, owing to the war conditions, have remained unfilled ; and that in regard to twenty-five of them there is no dispute as to who should fill them; and that fourteen out ofthese twenty-five officers are returned soldiers. Some of the men who have qualified to fill the positions were employed in the Treasury prior to enlisting. Others are officers in the Public Service who have proved themselves fit to fill the posts. Now that the war is over, there can be no gain in delaying the filling of the vacancies.

Mr Bowden - Are the appointments necessary?

Mr FENTON - Yes ; these men are practically doing the work now. Vacancies have occurred through various causes. Officers previously filling the positions may have received promotion, and the present applicants have proved their qualifications to be appointed to the vacancies by carrying on the work attached to the positions, and passing the necessary tests. Many heartburnings are caused by undue delay in filling vacancies. Soon after the war broke out, Mr. Andrew Fisher - the then Prime Minister - announced that during the war all promotions and appointments in the Public Service would cease ; and now that the war is over, it is only right that vacancies should be filled. Delay only creates friction, and we all know that friction among a large number of employees is one of the worst possible things that can happen. On the other hand, a well-paid and contented Public Service is one of the greatest blessings any country could have. There is no need for further delay. Everything has been done to fill the positions except the issue of the necessary Orders in Council, and I hope that the Acting Treasurer will take the matter in hand and expedite it.

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