Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 30 November 1960

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member will come back to the bill. It is the Public Service Bill.

Mr JONES - That is what I am trying to talk about. The workers are subject to this Government's arbitration legislation, and I say that they have lost their faith in arbitration. The State Labour governments have led the way throughout the Commonwealth in granting industrial concessions to workers. This Government should give a lead to other State governments and to employers throughout the country by granting equal pay to its women employees for equal work.

We heard the honorable member for Hume talking about seniority. He says that he agrees with the remarks of the Boyer committee and is disappointed that the seniority provisions have not been deleted. I am very pleased to see that the Prime Minister has agreed not to interfere with the existing arrangements. The Labour Party believes in seniority when all things are equal. We know that in various parts of the Public Service, unfortunately, favoritism is extended to certain employees. A man came to me not so long ago with a complaint. He said that he was one of three men working on similar jobs. He was the senior of the three, but one of the other two was always given temporary appointment to higher positions when relief war. needed for employees occupying those posi tions who went on leave or were ill. I believe that in such circumstances it is the prerogative of the departmental head to appoint any person he thinks is suitable to fill such positions temporarily. When one of those positions becomes vacant and a permanent appointment is made to it, the person who has acted in the position for the longest time is given preference. The departmental head merely says, "A has worked for only sixteen days in the position, B for 40 days, and C for 100 days. C has always given satisfaction when he has so acted, and I therefore recommend his permanent appointment."

The particular man to whom I am referring found himself in an awkward position, because he had been pushed around by the departmental head to such an extent that it now appears that an officer much junior to him will be given a permanent appointment in one of the higher positions. I believe that if a competitive examination is held and two applicants are found to be of equal ability, then the seniority principle should apply. Whether the honorable member for Hume likes it or not, there must be some organized system. We cannot simply accept the law of the jungle. The honorable member for Hume recently expressed support for the measure which is designed to increase sales tax on motor vehicles from 30 per cent, to 40 per cent.

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member is geting away from the bill. Sales tax legislation will be considered at a later stage.

Mr JONES - I am trying to point out to the House the inconsistency of honorable members opposite. I was referring particularly to the honorable member for Hume and the inconsistency that he has repeatedly demonstrated in this House, and even as late as to-day. I have made my point about the inconsistency of Government supporters, and I now wish to refer to the preference given to ex-servicemen under the Re-establishment and Employment Act. I am simply asking the Prime Minister to give some consideration, at a later stage, to the suggestion I am now making.

At present ex-servicemen are given preference for appointment to the Public

Service only if they have seen service in a combat zone. They must, of course, have been ex-servicemen within the meaning of the act as it stands. I suggest that consideration should be given also to those men who enlisted in the permanent Army, Navy or Air Force and completed their time, or, alternatively, were pensioned out. I had before me recently the case of a man who was in the permanent Navy as a steward before the war, and contracted dermatitis. He was paid £279 as compensation and was discharged from the Navy as being medically unfit. He immediately went into the merchant navy - this was just before the war - and he saw service on the Australian coast. He worked for the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, and a number of ships of that company were lost. As I say, this man enlisted in the Navy of his own accord and was discharged medically unfit because of a complaint he contracted during his Navy service, and for which he was paid compensation. When he applied for a position in the Public Service he was not eligible because he was not an ex-serviceman within the meaning of the act. Cases like that should have more consideration. They may be rare, but when they come to notice they should be examined and the act should be amended to give them protection and assistance.

I do not propose to take up any more time on this bill. The bill is fair and reasonable, but I urge that attention be given to the provision for physically-handicapped persons, equal pay, promotion according to seniority and consideration for exservicemen who may not have qualified completely but have strong claims because of their service.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In committee:

Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.

Progress reported.

Suggest corrections