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Friday, 24 August 1923

Mr MARR (Parkes) .- In many respects it is a retrograde step in the history of the Commonwealth Public Service to retire officers of the Taxation Department, which has been built up of men specially selected for work of a highly skilled nature. The Commonwealth Public Service was combed for brilliant young men, who had qualified in accountancy and in other ways to fit them for important positions in the Taxation Department. It is only right, therefore, that the voluntary retirements should be spread over the whole of the Public Service. Many officers in other Departments would be prepared to retire if compensation were paid to them, and this would leave the way clear for the appointment of taxation officers in their places. I favour the provision in the Bill applying compulsory retirement throughout the Service, since it will give the Board of Management an opportunity to retain the services of highly qualified officers who would otherwise be dismissed. Clause 5 is a welcome provision, although it is not as definite as I should like. Personally, I would insert a clause providing that officers who were eligible for active service, and did not enlist, should be retired before returned soldiers, preference being given to married men as against those who are single. There are many returned soldiers in the Taxation Department, and they should be absorbed in other Departments in place of men who were eligible but failed their country in its hour of need.

Mr Anstey - The honorable member should apply that principle to the men accompanying the Prime Minister. None of them served at the Front.

Mr MARR - The Prime Minister's personal record will stand for the rest of the party. Each man should be judged on his merits. Officers may have been prevented from enlisting on account of disabilities or other reasons. That is a question for the Board to consider. Honorable members on both1 sides will recognise the deplorable position of those officers, who will be unable to find employment. It is not our desire to put more men on the labour market, especially if they are married men with families. We should be as liberal as possible to these officers. There is no reason why some of these men should not find employment at tho Federal Capital.

Mr Fenton - Most of these 'men are clerks, and could not do pick and shovel work.

Mr MARR - For that reason they will find it hard to obtain positions. I know that in the Postmaster-General's Department some of these men could displace linesmen who are at present doing clerical work. The Public Service Board, consisting, as it does, of two returned soldiers is likely to give returned soldiers every consideration. Preference should be given to returned men, other things being equal. It is to be hoped that the Board will read Hansard, and ascertain the views of honorable members.

Mr Fenton - Does not the honorable member think the measure premature?

Mr MARR - We have been given to understand by the Treasurer that agreements have been entered into with two of the States.

Dr EARLE Page - The other States are certain to come to an arrangement with us.

Mr MARR - This Bill affects two States, and a considerable benefit will be derived if an arrangement is made with them for one taxation return. I am glad to note that the officers of both Federal and State Taxation Departments will be retired in proportion to strength. The two staffs will be taken together, and the number to be retired will be taken from both the Federal and 1 State Departments. An amendment is to be moved to give those officers who are retired from the State services the benefit of their period of service for compensation purposes. We shall be able to deal more fully with the Bill when in Committee.

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