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Thursday, 3 December 1959

Mr McEWEN - The Public Service Board, which is the appropriate Commonwealth authority, has been studying the claims of public servants in relation to the recent decision in the metal trades margins case. The Public Service Board, quite naturally and correctly, has been in touch with me, as Acting Prime Minister, and with the Government, in this regard. On an earlier occasion, speaking for the Government to a deputation of Public Service organizations, I said that the Government would not approve a settlement of the claims of those organizations prior to important decisions on the major claims before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Naturally, the Public Service Board will take cognizance of the relevant decisions of the commission. A principal decision has already been made in the metal trades case, and there are other important decisions impending in the immediate future.

Having had recent consultations with the board, I am sure that I can say that it will expedite to the utmost degree its processes. [ give an assurance that whatever slight delay may occur in reaching a final conclusion - we would hope that it would be as slight as possible - it will not be of such a nature as will prejudice, in point of time, the Commonwealth public servants.

I had in mind to try to be prepared to make a statement to-day on this matter, which is of real importance. I shall endeavour to make a fuller statement than I have now made within the next 24 hours.

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