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Friday, 27 March 1942

Mr BLACKBURN (Bourke) .- I was rather disagreeably surprised to-day to. learn in conversation that some members of the Government, if not the Cabinet, were considering measures in relation to liquor control which would mean the- extension of hotel closing hours in Victoria beyond 6 p.m. If such action were taken, it would be resented by a great majority of the people of that State as not merely causing immediate injury to them, but as breaking down the principle of the 6 p.m. closing of hotels. Once that principle were departed from, it might well be that it would not be again observed. I believe that 6 o'clock closing has been of great benefit to Victoria, and I would not accept any extension of the hours of closing beyond 6 p.m. «3 compensated by a later opening hour. What is suggested is that licensed premises should be opened later in the morning and kept open later in the evening. I warn the Government againstany interference with the hours observed for the sale of liquor in Victoria. If it did so, great injury would result to domestic peace in that State and to the people generally. If left to himself, I do not believe that the Premier of Victoria ("Mr. Dunstan) would extend the trading hours of hotels as suggested ; but it has been mentioned to me that some Ministers are considering a proposal by which a blanket regulation should be promulgated under the National Security Act with regard to the closing hours of hotels in all .States, so that in Victoria licensed premises could be kept open after 6 p.m. I have said very little upon this matter, because I do not consider that anybody should use the war to take an advantage in a controversial issue, and I have urged the people of Victoria not. to use the war in order to secure an advantage for the temperance movement. I cannot see how an extension of the trading hours beyond 6 o'clock would help the war effort. On the contrary, I believe that the war effort would be retarded by such action and that a great injury would be done to Victoria.

By transcribing a British regulation, the Government has done an injury to the working people of Australia. In the National Security (War Injuries Compensation) Regulations, the Government sets up a scheme of pensions for persons who. suffer war injuries. The rates of pension are not so generous as are provided under the workmen's compensation statutes of the Commonwealth and the States. Were it not for these regulations a person who sustains a war injury while engaged in his ordinary occupation would be entitled to workmen's compensation at rates in excess of those now payable.

So far as it is material regulation 70 of Statutory Rules 1942, No. 9 reads -

There shall not be payable, whether to the person injured or to any other person, in respect of any war injury, any such compensa-tion or damages as, but for the provisions of this regulation -

(a)   would be payable under any law of the Commonwealth, or a State or Territory of the Commonwealth, relating to compensation to workmen or employees (including employees of the Commonwealth) for injuries suffered in the course of their employment;

I have taken the trouble to compare the regulation with the British regulation, and can say that it is a transcription of the latter. Let us contemplate the case of a man who sustains a war injury while at work. Under these regulations he is not entitled to the compensation payable under the workmen's compensation law, but is forced to accept an inferior scheme of pensions under which compensation at a lower rate i3 payable. It is most desirable that workers should not be deterred from carrying on their work while war conditions exist. If our cities were being bombed, or this country were invaded by an enemy, it would still be necessary for many persons to engage in their ordinary occupations. The effect of these regulations may be so unfair to workers who sustain war injuries that I am confident that I have only to bring the matter to the notice of the Minister for Supply and Development- (Mr. Beasley), who is familiar with compensation matters, to obtain his immediate attention to it with the result, I hope, that the regulations will be altered.

Mr. McEWEN(Indi) r5.4].- Since the present Government came into office statements attributed to "a government spokesman " have appeared from time to time in the press. I should like the Minister in charge of the House to explain what is meant by the release of statements - I presume that they are released - by these unnamed individuals as it would appear that there is a plurality of anonymous spokes-men for the Government.

Mr Calwell - What device did the Government, of which the honorable member was a Minister, use to inform the public ?

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