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Thursday, 13 October 1955

Sir ERIC HARRISON (WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I should like to make a personal explanation in order to correct a statement that appears in a newspaper to-day, and that misrepresents something I said in answer to a question in this House regarding the St. Mary's ammunition filling factory. My statement was made with regard to criticism that had been levelled against the proposal to construct the St. Mary's factory, when it was alleged that extravagant wages and overtime rates had been paid, and that nien were working four days a. week, ten hours a clay. I answered that criticism by saying -

No general payment above award rates is made. In fact, the contractors have an agreement with the Government, through the Department of Labour and National Service, that they will not, without approval, advertise for labour. Moreover, they have agreed that when they do receive approval, they will accept direction as to what form the advertising should take. They have agreed further that they will not indulge in extravagant wage payments. The contractors claim that they have not paid more than the award rates, and that the statement that the men are working four days of ten hours each week, with overtime on Friday and Saturday, is incorrect.

I emphasize that, because that was the basis of the criticism. My statement continued -

They do not guarantee any employee that he will receive overtime. They have agreed with the Department of Labour and National Service that, each week, for each man, overtime will not exceed 8 hours. There is no guarantee that any nian will be allowed to work 8 hours' overtime, or that, if overtime is worked, it will be worked every week.

What I said in answer to the question has been reported in to-day's Melbourne Herald as follows : -

The 826 people employed had not caused any abnormal movement of workers in the St. Mary's area. They worked four days a week at 10 hours daily, and did not receive overtime for Friday and Saturday.

Obviously, the newspaper report will create a wrong impression. I went to great pains to make it clear that the mcn do not work four days of ten hours each week, with overtime on Fridays and Saturdays, because that is what was stated in an article in a morning newspaper to-day which criticized me, and it is wrong. I do not think for a moment that the Melbourne Herald has deliberately misrepresented what I said, but I think that that newspaper should correct the report so that the people will be correctly informed about the matter.

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