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Wednesday, 10 July 1946

Mr Fadden n asked the Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice -

1.   Has his attention been drawn to a statement by the former Administrator of the Northern Territory, Mr. Abbott, that the charge for meals in camps in the Northern Territory was so low that there waa a loss of at least 30s. a week, which,' with about 1,000 employees of the Department of Works and Housing on the Darwin payroll, meant a charge to the taxpayer of £80,000 a year?

2.   If so, what action does the Minister intend to take to remedy that state of affairs?

Mr Lazzarini - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : -

1.   No. The cost of providing cooked food per man per week for the employees in camps at Darwin is as follows: -


As the provisions of the Works and Services (Northern Territory) award provide a maximum deduction of 32s. 6d. per week; a minimum loss of ].2s. 3d. per man per week is involved. As the standard of temporary living accommodation in camps which were constructed during the war years is below the standard which the department intends ultimately to provide when materials are available, and having regard to the disabilities under which the men are working at present, the charge has, for the time being, been fixed at £1 ls. per week and the loss is, therefore, £1 3s.. 9d. per week as against the minimum loss of 12s. 3d. peT man per week previously quoted. The Conciliation .Commissioner, in fixing a maximum deduction of 32s. Gd. per week, was aware that the cost to the department was in excess bf that amount, and was also aware of the standard of accommodation and of food at present available.

2.   It is. essential that a reasonable standard of messing should be provided for employees serving in the Northern Territory. The remoteness of the area involves costs which would not occur elsewhere, whilst essential items such as fresh fruit and vegetables which cannot be obtained locally involve heavy cost in transportation. The cost of providing meals foi' employees is subject to constant review and economies are effected wherever possible, consistent with the maintenance of a satisfactory standard for the men-.

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