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Wednesday, 13 December 1911


Senator SAYERS (Queensland) . - I heartily indorse the statements of Senator Stewart.. Time after time, I have re- ceived complaints from letter-carriers, but

I suppose that it is of no use to say anything now that the Public Service Arbitration Bill has been passed. I do not imagine that the Government are likely to alter their views. We on this side tried all we possibly could to induce the Government to bring in a Bill dealing with the letter-carriers, but they refused to do so.


Senator Vardon - They gave them the right to go to the Arbitration Court.


Senator SAYERS - Exactly.


Senator Millen - The men asked for bread, and the Government gave them a stone.


Senator SAYERS - That is what I said in my second-reading speech. I do not intend to dwell any more on the subject. The Bill has been passed, and its supporters must take the responsibility. Some time ago, I referred to the state of a great number of post-offices in Queensland ; some of them I had seen, and others had been described to me by correspondents. In March last, when I was at Herberton, my attention was called to a building in which I think it is inhuman to ask men to work. Such a building would not be allowed to continue to exist for twenty-four hours in any part of the State of Victoria. I solemnly pledge myself to the truth of the statement I have made concerning this building. I did not, when I first dealt with the matter, mention any particular place, but the Postal Department called my attention to the speech I had made, and asked me to justify it by giving them some specific examples: Within three minutes after I received the departmental letter, I had posted an answer to it, giving the facts and naming the place. To my note, I got a reply, which I shall read to the Committee. There are holes in the building I have referred to which a person could put his arm through, and from the place at which telegrams are written it is possible to see all that is done in the office. The operator in charge of the telegraph instrument is compelled to work under an iron roof, without any ceiling. Shame would be called upon any Government if men were asked to work in this part of the country in, such a hovel.


Senator Barker - They would put a firestick to it.


Senator Givens - The building referred to was erected by the Government of Sir Samuel Walker Griffith, that Senator Sayers supported. They were responsible for the iron roof without a ceiling.


Senator SAYERS - The honorable senator is referring to something which took place a great many years ago. This is the reply 1 got from the Postmaster-General's Department -

Postmaster-General's Department,

Melbourne, 29th November, 1911.

Sir,

With reference to the representations recently made by you in Parliament respecting the condition of post-office buildings in the Cairns district, and to your letter of the 14th inst. intimating that you had in mind the post-office at Herberton, I beg to inform you that inquiry has been made, and the report received indicates that the circumstances warrant the erection of a new post-office building at Herberton on the site which has been acquired. The Deputy PostmasterGeneral, Brisbane, reports as follows in regard to. the matter, viz. : -

In 1910 I visited the northern part of Queensland, and wherever the necessity for additions or repairs was noticed, action was taken accordingly

The Herberton building is an old one, and business there being on the decline at the time, I considered it my duty to defer proposing a heavy expenditure on a new office structure until the prospects pf the place could be better ascertained.

I may add that this case has been noted for consideration when the draft ' Estimates for 1912-13 are being prepared.

Yours faithfully,

Justinian Oxenham,

Secretary.

The Department asked me for particulars about this building themselves, and that is the reply I got from them. I take it from this letter that the Deputy PostmasterGeneral of Brisbane visited this post-office, but I very much doubt it. In any case, I should like to ask him to live in the building for one week. It is suggested that there are not many people at Herberton, but since he visited the place the railway has been opened, and Senator Givens can bear me out that there is now a large settlement of farmers around Herberton. The business done in this building is at least large enough to justify the employment of three or four men, but the state of the building is a disgrace to a civilized community. If any private employer of labour in Queensland were to house his men in such a building, he would be Hounded down from one end of Australia to the other. Yet we have the Government proposing in this letter to me to leave the matter over until 191 2 -13. We have public inspectors of buildings in order to compel private employers in such matters to treat their employes fairly.


Senator Millen - The honorable senator will notice that the Department does not promise to do what is necessary in this case even in 1912-13. They promise only to consider it then.







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