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Friday, 24 August 1923

Mr SCULLIN (Yarra) (2:42 AM) .- I am sorry that the Treasurer has announced his hostility to the amendment before he has heard it discussed, because it will be difficult for him to withdraw from the attitude he has adopted. A strong case can be made out in favour of the amendment. I have with me a number of newspaper extracts showing that the proposed amalgamation of the Taxation Departments was "in the air" as far back as April. A few officers have taken positions outside the Department - not always better, positions - because they foresaw this development. They, believed that they, like the officers and clerks in the Defence Department, would receive compensation upon voluntary retirement. There was a clause in the Act relating to the retirement of Defence officers which made the compensation payable to anybody who retired voluntarily before a certain date, which was about three months before the Bill was passed.

Dr EARLE Page - The Bill was assented to in September, and the payments were made retrospective to the 30th June.

Mr SCULLIN - Some officers of the Taxation Department, who retired voluntarily, believed that the compensation would be similarly retrospective. I remember asking the Treasurer, in April, for his advice in regard to one officer who had been offered another position, and the Treasurer, in a friendly way, advised that the man should accept the offer. He certainly did not promise that the officer would receive compensation, but the general impression, was that it would be paid to those who voluntarily retired.

Dr Earle Page - It was known in January or February, 1922, that compensation would be paid to the employees in the Defence Department. .

Mr SCULLIN - I do not think that the Treasurer can suggest that he ยป has only made up his mind in the. last week or two that compensation would be paid to the retrenched employees in the Taxation Department.

Dr EARLE Page - Hundreds of employees retire from the Taxation Department every year.

Mr SCULLIN - Not many men will be affected by the amendment and only a small amount of money will be involved. In those circumstances, I think the Government ought to accept it. Why should an injustice be done to any employee? If those who are still in the employment of the- Department are entitled to compensation, I think that those who left it because of the uncertainty of their position, and who thus saved the Treasurer the unpleasant task of dismissing them, are also entitled to it. Morally, they have as much claim to it as the other men.

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