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Wednesday, 2 November 1921

Senator RUSSELL (Victoria) (VicePresident of the Executive Council) , - I have had a very wide experience in the administration of the Public Service Act, and I know that any failure on the part of boys employed as telegraph messengers to pass the examination at the age of eighteen years, mav be traced to their neglect of their opportunities. In some cases the boys did not know that to pass an examination was a condition precedent to their further employment in the Service. Therefore, I suggested to the Public Service Commissioner that the lads should be directly informed on the point. When parents have approached me on the subject, I have always advised them to send their lads to some night school in order that they might qualify for permanent positions.

Senator Foster - Is there any limit in regard to the age at which they can sit for the examination?

Senator RUSSELL - They may sit practically at any time. In the case of those lads who, at the age of seventeen or eighteen years, enlisted, and went to the war, we have been able to dispense with the examinations. They have all been placed in permanent positions. Honorable senators will agree, of course, that it is not desirable to fill the Public Service with non-triers. The examination is so simple that any lad of average intelligence can pass it. I do not know of any lad who has been put out of the Department after having passed the examination.

Senator Henderson - I think you will find they have been put off because there have not been sufficient vacancies.

Senator RUSSELL - Well, I do not know of one case.

Senator Vardon - Can the Minister say what percentage of lads remain in the Service after reaching the age of eighteen years.

Senator Duncan -Can you state howmany lads between the ages of seventeen years and eighteen years are in the Service? If this clause is passed they will be dismissed.

Senator RUSSELL - I do not know, but I shall endeavour to get the information for the honorable senators.

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