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Wednesday, 13 May 1942

Mr DRAKEFORD (Maribyrnong) (. Minister for Air) . - by leave - It will be recalled that the honorable member for Melbourne {Mr. Calwell) made certain statements in the House concerning payment of overtime to a number of officer-s in the Area Finance Office, Melbourne. In that statement, the honorable member referred to allegations made by two councillors of the Fitzroy City Council to the effect that an officer in receipt of a salary of £550 per annum received up to £20 in a fortnight in payment for overtime, that highly-paid officers were drawing from £15 to £17 a week as compared with their earning capacity of approximately £5 a week prior to the war. The honorable member went on to say that he had later conversed with the two councillors and had ascertained that the names of the finance officers concerned were - Mr.G. Alexander, who, it was stated, works practically every week-end and receives £5 for whatever work he does in that time; and Messrs. C. E. Page, H. Roberts, T. R. Davey and E. Noltenius, who are in charge of different sections. The honorable member claimed that each is in receipt of a high salary and receives overtime payment, but that temporary clerks employed in those branches are allowed to work overtime on two nights a week only and no weekends.

I have since had those allegations fully investigated, and. find that all of the officers named are holding key positions, that Mr. Alexander is the only permanent public servant in the number named, that the others are employed in a temporary capacity and were released by their former employers for service in the Air Force Finance Branch for the duration of the war. All were specially selected because of their experience in the performance of duties somewhat similar to those on which they are now employed. Further, their present rates of salary are approximately equal to what they would otherwise be receiving in their normal employment. I have had a statement prepared showing the actual weekly rate of salary and the average weekly rate of overtime payment of each officer during the past three months. It is as follows : -

Notwithstanding that these amounts include payment for special duties over the Easter holidays, Sunday pay and normal overtime, it will be observed that the weekly rates of pay of those officers' - all of whom hold key positions - vary between only £6 16s. 6d. and £9 10s. 6d. a week, and that overtime payments vary between £1 14s. and £3 7s. 2d. a week, whereas the honorable member referred to one officer having received up to £20 in a fortnight in payment for overtime.

Those figures show that the reported statements made by the two councillors are incorrect, and I take this early opportunity to place the facts before the House. The honorable member's statement that there is discrimination in the allocation of overtime is true to some degree, as it is all-important that the officer in charge of a section, and the keenest and most industrious of the personnel, shall be employed in that manner in order to ensure that important pay ledgers shall be kept up to date. All payments to those officers are strictly in accordance with Public Service Regulations, and every action is taken not only to prevent any abuse of overtime by any individual officer, but also to ensure that officers most capable in the performance of important duties, and charged with responsibility for the efficient maintenance of pay ledgers, shall be given the opportunity to fulfil their obligations and duties efficiently.

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