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Thursday, 13 October 1910
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Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) . - The remarks with which Senator Stewart introduced this question conveyed the idea that he 'was more anxious to get in a shot at the Postmaster-General than to make a genuine attempt to remove a grievance. He knows full well that this matter, with quite a number of others, has been receiving attention at the hands of the Postal Commission for a considerable time, and that the report of that body has but recently been presented to Parliament.

Senator Fraser - Its inquiry has cost the country ^8,000.

Senator DE LARGIE - And the result of its investigations is well worth ^8,000. I repeal: that the report of the Commission has only just been made available. A reference to the report will show that the Commission has reported on the matter in such a way as will remove the grievances complained of. It was rather unfair, I think, for the honorable senator to assert that the present Ministry is responsible in any way for the delay which has occurred. It was equally unfair on his part to state that the present PostmasterGeneral is no more anxious about these matters than was any of his predecessors, and is doing nothing to remedy the grievances that exist. It was also unreasonable for him to contend that it has been possible to act upon the report, or that the present session has afforded an opportunity to take any step in that direction. I believe that it will be acted upon by the present Government as soon as time will permit. A quotation from the report will be a satisfactory reply to the remarks of Senator Stewart. I can afford to ignore the charge he made against myself and others when he said, " Look at the difference it makes to oldtime Labour agitators when they get into Parliament or on to the Government bench," because I feel quite sure that my record will bear very favorable comparison with his own as regards the remedying of grievances when an. opportunity presented itself outside. I doubt very much whether he was ever in a trade union, let alone took the part of an agitator. And as regards the redress of grievances, I think it is only Parliament which has known him in that capacity. I had a very early training in that class of work. The honorable senator should not therefore throw any sneers across the floor at me, lest he may get a few remarks thrown at him.

Senator Stewart - Does the honorable senator look for them?

Senator DE LARGIE - I am quite ready to deal with any sneers. I am prepared on any occasion to place my record in comparison . with the honorable senator's. As regards the other persons whom he mentioned, they are as capable as myself of giving an effective reply. I propose to quote an extract from the report of the Postal Commission to show that this section of the Public Service has not been ignored. I believe that when an opportunity presents itself there will be a few alterations in their position made. On page 117 the Commission say -

Your Commissioners recommend that the principle which should guide the Department in scheduling semi-official offices should be the amount of business transacted, and not on the revenue receipts. Offices that are important as line repairing or repeating stations should not be classed as semi-official. The minimum salary of the person in charge of a semi-official office should be £110 per annum, and a stipulation should be made that messengers employed should not be under 15 years of age, arid should be paid the full amount of salary granted by the Department for this position. Persons engaged in semi-official offices should be permitted to qualify for staff appointments on passing the prescribed examination for appointment as telegraphists.

It will be seen that Senator Stewart has made no suggestion which had not previously been made by the Postal Commission.

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