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Tuesday, 29 November 1938

Sir HENRY GULLETT (Henty) . - I shall speak briefly on the subject of the dismissals of returned soldiers from the Postmaster-General's Department. Recently, two ex-soldiers who were at the Gallipoli landing and served through the war in the Australian infantry, called on me. One had been an assistant lineman, and the other a lineman's labourer, in the PostmasterGeneral's Department in Victoria for three and a half years and four years respectively. They showed me a printed 3lip of one sentence announcing their dismissal after three days' notice. I submit that that is not the way in which a great government should treat its returned soldier employees. Such action is singularly unfortunate at the present time when the Government is appealing for voluntary enlistment in the militia forces. It is an unhappy coincidence that these veterans of a past war should be scrapped in order that a little, more money may be made available to ensure the safety of Australia. I appeal to the Government to show every possible consideration to its ex-soldier temporary employees. When I brought this matter before the Deputy Director of Posts and Telegraphs in Victoria, I learned from him that no reduction of the total number of employees in this section of work is being made. That means that younger men are being put on, and that these older men are being laid off in the interests of economy. I recognize that a great business undertaking like the post office must be run on business-like lines, but I submit that, just as private employers are expected to give special consideration to their ex-soldier employees, so it is the sacred duty of the Government to carry the returned soldiers who are employed in Government departments until they reach a proper retiring age. I believe that the Postmaster-General (Mr. Archie Cameron) and the Treasurer (Mr. Casey), who hear my appeal, are as sympathetic towards these men as I am, but they are in a difficult position. I suggest, moreover, that it is false economy to dismiss these men. Even if they were being paid £1 a week more than they are worth - which I do not admit - I point out that they will have to be kept somehow. One of these men has eight children, only two of whom are old enough to go to work. They receive 17s. 6d. and 12s. 6d. a week respectively. The treatment meted out to these men is unworthy of a national government,

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