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Tuesday, 29 November 1938


Mr DRAKEFORD - I am speaking mainly of the general question now. I am aware that it would be neces-J sary to amend the existing legislation in order to bring railway men under the same provisions as postal workers in regard to housing, but there is no reason why such an amendment should not be made. Something should be done to remove the anomaly which results in one section of Commonwealth employees being accommodated in good houses, while another section has to put up with bad ones. I make no charge against the Commissioner for Railways. He is trying to make the railways pay, but it is an impossible task, and the railway workers should not be penalized for that reason. Reference has been made to housing conditions at Watson. I know that this is a temporary settlement, but, even so, something should be done to improve matters. It is a grave reflection on the administration that a woman with a young child should be compelled to live under such conditions.

As for- the rest houses which aire provided, they are entirely unsatisfactory. The comments of the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) on the housing of railway employees in the Commonwealth Railways anticipate particulars which are to be incorporated in a case to be put before the authorities, and I hope that the Minister will give those representations sympathetic consideration. In the single men's camps, the cooking and bathing arrangements are such that no one should be asked to put up with them, particularly men in responsible positions, and their living quarters are also very inferior. The honorable member for Hindmarsh and I have seen these conditions for ourselves, and we know what we are talking about. We appreciate the difficulties of the commissioner, and I would be prepared to accompany the Minister on an inspection of these places with a view to having matters improved.

Time does not permit me to put before the Postmaster-General (Mr. Archie Cameron) the matters relating to his department which require attention. Some of them have been mentioned by other honorable members, but I propose to bring them in greater detail under his notice through a deputation which will wait upon him later. I congratulate the Postmaster-General on the new public telephone boxes, which are highly decorative and artistic and eminently suited to their purpose. Unfortunately, there seems to be a hold-up in the supply, with the result that the installation of public telephones is being unduly delayed.

I shall defer any further remarks in order to give other honorable members an opportunity to speak under this wretched system of .the curtailment of time.







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