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Wednesday, 6 July 1921

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - There is a good deal to be said, for the amendment proposed by Senator Payne. If no stronger objections are urged against it than those which have been mentioned by Senators .Russell and Keating, I shall be inclined to vote for it. I do not think there is much in the objection urged, on the ground that there might be a garnishee order against a retiring public servant. I am sorry to hear that it should be necessary to take garnishee orders into account in connexion with our public servants. They are men in receipt of regular pay, and it should not be necessary for .them to get behind with their accounts.

Senator Keating - Unfortunately, many of them do, and that through no fault of their own.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I should say that there are from 25,,000 to 30,000 people employed in the Public Service of the Commonwealth, and I venture to say that the percentage of those affected by garnishee orders is very small indeed. I am not prepared to deny what I regard as justice to 30,000 people because a few amongst them may be affected by garnishee orders. Senator Keating objected that one man might secure a higher retiring allowance than another because he retired at a time when the cost of living was higher than it was at the time of the other officer's retirement. Honorable senators are aware that public .servants in remote districts are given a special allowance. In some portions of Western Australia, public servants receive an allowance in excess of the salary granted to men of the same grade in 'Perth. In the same way, men located at Broken Hill are given an allowance in excess of that paid to men of the same grade performing duties in Sydney.

Senator Payne - Some public servants .get a special climatic allowance for service on the west coast of Tasmania.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I did not know that there was a climate over there. It is more expensive to live in remote country districts than in the cities, and the public servants in receipt of these special allowances are no better off, and can save no more money, than those performing duties in the more settled districts. It seems to me, therefore, reasonable that those special allowances should be considered in computing gratuities or retiring allowances for officers who have been in receipt of them. For the purpose of computing gratuities and retiring allowances, the special allowances to which I have referred might reasonably be regarded as part of the officer's pay.

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