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Friday, 24 August 1923

Mr COLEMAN (Reid) (4:50 AM) .To do justice to the men concerned, the Government should accept this amendment. They entered the Taxation Department in the belief that they had assured prospects and permanency of employment, and to dismiss them with six months' pay is a gross betrayal of confidence. I understand that £200,000 has been set aside for, compensation, but on the Treasurer's own statement the bulk of these men will be absorbed in the Services of the States. Therefore, that sum should be quite sufficient to enable the Government to pay those who are retrenched twelve months' salary. If the amendment is carried it will induce the Public Service Board to make » every possible attempt to absorb these men, whereas if only six months' salary would be involved, that body might retrench in a drastic manner. Most of these men will have very little opportunity to get other positions. There is a glut in the market for clerical work. The Treasurer stated that there were vacancies for typists. I was secretary of the Australian Clerical Association of New South Wales for some time, and I profess to know a little about the condition of the market for clerical work. In no industry does there exist more depression than in the clerical occupation. Thousands of clerks are out of work, as the awards which prescribe a living wage practically prohibit employment, because the employer uses female labour at cheap rates in preference to male labour. Hundreds of junior typists are being thrown on the labour market, and when female clerks reach twentyone or twenty- two years of age, and require a living wage, they are dismissed and replaced by girls of sixteen or seventeen years of age. Unless these men are exceptionally lucky, or hold special qualifications, they will be compelled- to sac rifice years of special training to accept labouring work or any other work offering. They should be given a sufficient sum to- keep them while looking for employment. Even twelve months' salary is far from adequate. To appeal to the Treasurer is like speaking to a stone wall, hut even stone walls will crack under the weight of persistent effort. I trust that the honorable gentleman will yield to our request.

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