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Friday, 24 August 1923

Mr McNEILL (Wannon) (4:43 AM) .I regret to hear the verdict of the Treasurer in this matter. Were the Government to accept the amendment there is not one person in the Commonwealth who would find fault with it, but on. the contrary it would be commended. The Treasurer, as a doctor visiting the homes of average people in his district, must know how difficult it is for a married man to rear a family on casual employment. The civil servants are supposed to be in receipt of fair wages, but I venture to say that there is not 2 per cent, of married men amongst them who have saved £20 in the last five or six years. No public servant who has a wife and one child can * live in the city on a salary of less than £5 per week. These men are to be kicked out with compensation in the shape of six months' salary. There is yet time for the Government to retrace its steps, and I hope it will do so. If these men could follow any class of work it would be a different matter, but they have had no commercial training in the Public Service. It will be argued that there are vacancies for commercial men throughout the Commonwealth, but I venture to .say that if a man offered £20 for a position as a commercial traveller in Victoria he could not get it. Not one of these men have saved £20 from his salary as a civil servant, and the small amount of his compensation will vanish before he is able to find employment. I regret that there has been any need to dismiss these men. In a young and growing country like Australia we should be able to find employment for them somewhere. If the agreement with these officers is to be terminated, the Government should treat them fairly. I favour the suggestion of the honorable member for Yarra to make the minimum of compensation £200, and no man or woman in this country would find fault with the Government if that were done. - I consider the Treasurer a. kind-hearted man, but on this question he is like the Rock of Gibraltar. The Government are determined that the compensation shall consist of six months' pay, and I hope the Committee vote will be against them.

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