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Friday, 24 August 1923

Mr ANSTEY (Bourke) .- Honorable members on this side of the Chamber anticipated that the Treasurer would make some reply to the speeches which have been delivered in this debate. If he Will do so, well and good; otherwise honorable members of the Opposition will not find it difficult to continue speaking all night. A couple of weeks ago I put a number of questions. to the Prime Minister in connexion with the position of different classes of employees in the Taxation Department, who will he affected by this Bill. I was informed, in reply, that the questions would be considered. I thought that the Treasurer, in his second-reading speech, would have dealt with the points referred to in my questions. No information has been given. I ask now what the Government intends to do in certain cases. 1 shall deal first with the position of officers whom the Government proposes to transfer to the State service. Some of those men may be quite willing to be transferred, and others may have objections. They may say that they are perfectly satisfied with their present employer, but are not willing to allow the Government autocratically to pass them over to some other employer. They may say, " We are satisfied to remain in the employ of one feudal baron, but we have no sympathy with the one to whom it is proposed to pass us over." Will the Government give to the men who object to the transfer the option of retiring with an adequate compensation, or will it say, "If you will not accept employment in some other service we shall decline to give you a single penny." I desire to know whether the Arbitration Court award rights of the transferred employees will be preserved to them? Will i.hey still receive the cost of living allowance and the child endowment, which is their right in the Commonwealth service? Provision is being made in this Bill for declaring certain men " Excess officers What will be the position of employees who are transferred to the State Service if, shortly after the transfer, they are declared to be excess officers? Is there any security against such a happening? There is none. If they go over to the State Services, the State authorities may not be able to give them a position or the status which they occupied under the Commonwealth Government. This Bill professes to do justice ' to ' these officials. It does nothing of the kind. If they are retired from the Service they will receive compensation on a definite basis, but if they are transferred to a State Service there will be no guarantee that their status or emoluments will subsequently be secured to them. Apparently, about 1,000 officers will be affected by this Bill. In this State the number will probably be 300. What guarantee is there that, subsequent to their transfer, they will not be declared excess officers. In that event, they will be in a much worse position than if they had been retired from the Commonwealth Service. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr) urged the Government to give preference to men who had been on active service, and I took advantage of the opportunity to make an interjection, which was entirely disorderly, to remind' the House that on the staff of the Prime Minister who is about to proceed to England, there is only one man who has been on active service. Apparently, the policy which the Government profess to believe in has gone , by the board. I again ask the Treasurer what guarantee is given to these men, that if they are transferred, their emoluments, their status, their seniority, and their retention in the service of the State will be insured. If the Treasurer is prepared to answer this simple question now, it may save considerable time and expedite the passage of the Bill through Commit-" tee.

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