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Thursday, 11 April 1946

Mr CONELAN (Griffith) .- I direct attention to the lack of appreciation by the Public Service Board and the Government of the magnificent service rendered during the war by meat inspectors in Queensland, where they were engaged in examining food for the use of our own forces and those of our allies. This branch has been in existence for over 30 years, and the men have striven persistently for their rights. A long time c lapsed before they could obtain benefit from the Arbitration Court. Eventually Mr. Justice Powers heard their ease and decided that 55.5 per cent: of them should be made permanent, which meant that 40 were appointed permanently, leaving 34 on a temporary basis. Since then the percentage has been reduced from 55.5 to as low as17.7. The States treat their employees much better. Queensland officers become permanent after six months of temporary employment, and the period of qualification for permanency in New South Wales is twelve months. But, in the Commonwealth Public Service, men with up to seventeen years temporary employment are still deniedpermanency, notwithstanding that the Superannuation Act was amended recently to enable temporary public servants with five years in the service to qualify for benefits. The Meat Inspectors Association asks that its members who qualify under the Superannuation Act for benefits should also be entitled under the Commonwealth Public Service Act to permanent appointment. During the war the meat inspectors performed splendidly in ensuring the quality of the food Supplied to our troops and the troops of allied forces. They will be called upon, with the advent of peace, to continue that service until the occupation of enemy countries ends. It beyond comprehension that the Public Service Board should deny permanency to these men. I know that the Minister for Commerce - and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) is sympathetic, because he has expressed his sympathy with them to deputations of honorable members on both sides of the House representing Queensland constituencies.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON (BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Why then does he not do something about them ?

Mr CONELAN - The honorable member for Barker knows that the Public Service Board is beyond the control of the Minister.

Mr Archie Cameron - Well, when I was in office, I had 225 temporary officers placed on the permanent list at the one time.

Mr CONELAN - Then, I am glad to have the honorable member on my side for once. The onerous responsibilities borne by meat inspectors are shown by the following list of duties that they have to do when supervising the loading of products into ships : -

1.   Inspection of hold prior to loading, temperatures, hygiene.

2.   Suitability of loading gear.

3.   Inspection of product, i.e., condition, wrapping, casing, trade description.

4.   Supervision of loading. This requires of the inspector, among other things, judgment, determining whether loading shall continue or cease according to weather conditions prevail- ing during loading operations.

5.   Submission of full report of shipside inspection on completion of loading.

I ask the Government to give this matter its close attention with a view to ensuring that meat inspectors who have been employed temporarily for five years shall be placed on the permanent list.

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