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Tuesday, 7 September 1920


Mr FRANCIS (Henty) .- I should be sorry to say anything that might have the effect of creating industrial unrest or breaking down the present harmony of any employees' organizations, whether in the Public Service or outside. It seems to me, however, that at present there is a tendency on the part of Parliament to unnecessarily create new Departments; indeed, I have noticed that tendency in operation since this House assembled after the elections. The great bulk of the electors outside, who have had to bear the burden of the war, and are now called upon - and are responding very willingly - to find the money to fulfil our obligations to the soldiers, will not, I am afraid, submit to this increase in the public expenditure for long. Every day we read in the newspapers that this Parliament should, as far as possible, economize in every direction. The Country party and. others were returned pledged to economy, and it is undoubtedly essential that economy should be practised, or the patience of the people, who have contributed splendidly to the present loan, will become exhausted in the near future. I do not desire to pit my experience against that of older members, but whether a man has been in the House for three months or three years, he cannot fail to have observed- that one danger ahead is this .tendency to unnecessarily create new Departments. During the last week or two we have had much discussion here on arbitration and conciliation and industrial matters generally, and there is no doubt that the destruction of our present arbitration system is involved - that has been the undercurrent throughout the debates. In this Bill we have another attempt to remove from the Arbitration Court a large body of men who do not approve of the step. Why should this new Department be created if the public servants deliberately declare that they are satisfied to work under the present conditions? It has been truly said that if the Government desire to relieve the present congestion in the Court, even a school boy could tell them that the proper plan is to appoint new Judges or deputies, and preserve the existent machinery. It is regrettable to me to have, to oppose measures introduced by the Government, as I have had to do once or twice lately, but I should fail in my duty as a representative of the people if I did not take a firm stand on such an important matter as the unnecessary expenditure of the public money. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr) made a very weak attempt to justify this Bill.


Mr RICHARD FOSTER (WAKEFIELD, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - It was a piece of necessary courage.


Mr FRANCIS - The honorable member is not the only one who regards the honorable member for Parkes as a courageous man - one of the best. However, we have the fact that a practically unanimous vote of the Public Service shows that they do not desire this legislation.


Mr Groom - Where do you get the authority for speaking of a " practically unanimous" vote?


Mr Fowler - Has the Government any evidence to the contrary?


Mr FRANCIS - I am prepared to say that the Government have no evidence to show that S5 per cent, of the Public Service is not against the present Bill, the only effect of which can be to break down the harmony which exists to-day.


Mr Ryan - Would the honorable member be prepared to support an amendment to postpone the Bill in order to afford an opportunity to the Public Service to express their opinions?


Mr FRANCIS - I favour allowing the public servants to remain under the provisions of the Arbitration Act; and, if there are thirty-three or 133 cases waiting to be heard, it is the duty of Parliament to provide the necessary Judges and whatever additional machinery may be requisite in order that public servants shall receive reasonably prompt justice.







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