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Tuesday, 29 November 1938

Mr FRANCIS (Moreton) -I bring under the notice of the committee cases in which, . I understand, it is alleged the Government has not adhered to its policy of giving preference in employment to returned soldiers. I have here a file, extending over a long period, relating to a man employed as a temporary telegraph lineman who, twelve months ago, was recalled to the Postmaster-General's Department. This man has served for a total of eight years in a temporary capacity. Recently, he left his employment with the Ipswich City Council to work with the Postal Department, which was finding it difficult to obtain men with experience. He was informed by officials of the Postal Department that if he took the position he would soon be made a permanent employee. I also have a letter from the Public Service inspector stating that the lineman referred to had passed his qualifying examination in 1926. Almost thirteen years have elapsed and still he is a temporary employee. In the last issue of the Commonwealth Gazette appear the names of eighteen persons - none of whom is a returned soldier - who have been appointed as linemen. I am advised ako that, in a more recent issue of the Commonwealth Gazette; applications were called for linemen in training and that a number of employees who entered the service as telegraph messengers are now doing the work of linemen. If the Government intends to continue its policy of giving preference in employment to returned soldiers, a policv which I strongly endorse, it should not delay in making permanent the position of this man who passed the qualifying examination in 1926 and has since done temporary work for a period of eight years. I am advised that at least eight other men in Ipswich are similarly situated. I regret that, so far, the department has not seen its way clear to do the fair thing by these men, but I am certain that I have only to bring the matter to the notice of the new PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Archie Cameron), who is himself a returned soldier, to have the matter put right.

Portion of my electorate borders upon the State of New South Wales. Although it is now 38 years since federation was established, people living on State borders are still paying ls. 4d. for telegrams sent over State borders, whereas people in other parts of the Commonwealth pay only ls. for telegrams despatched to addressees in the State. A wire sent from

Southport to Tweed Heads, a distance of 20 miles, costs ls. 4d., while a telegram sent from Southport to Cape York, a distance of about 3,020 miles, costs only ls.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON (BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - That matter is now being investigated.

Mr FRANCIS - I have raised it on many occasions and I am glad of the Minister's assurance that some steps have been taken to remove this annoying anomaly.

I should like to know also what action is being taken to install rural automatic telephone exchanges.

Mr Archie Cameron - In answer to a question asked last week I stated that a number of rural automatic exchanges had been placed on order.

Mr FRANCIS - Were many placed on order?

Mr Archie Cameron - Yes.

Mr FRANCIS - Does the Minister expect the orders to he completed this year?

Mr Archie Cameron - Yes.

Mr FRANCIS - In view of that assurance I am hopeful that many additional rural automatic telephones will he installed in the near future. Nearly two years ago the department assured me that an automatic exchange would be installed at Sunnybank, Queensland. I am in receipt of regular communications from people in that district asking when that promise is to be honoured. I hope that outstanding orders will be fulfilled at an early date and that Sunnybank and other centres will be included in the first installations.

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