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Wednesday, 2 November 1921

Senator DUNCAN (New South Wales) . - I should feel inclined to vote for the suggested amendment if discretionary power was given to the Public Service Commissioner to enable the employment of a lad to continue should he, through unforeseen circumstances that could not be attributed to his own conduct, be prevented from sitting for an. examination before he reached the age of seventeen. There must be a number of boys in the Service who have not reached the age of eighteen, and who, if an amendment in the direction suggested were carried, would be dismissed from the Service.

Senator Payne - That point could be covered in another sub-clause.

Senator DUNCAN - An amendment such as that suggested might be carried, and a subsequent sub-clause might not, with the result that some youths would be unfairly treated. If there is one section of the community more than another that we should seek to protect it is that which comprises those who cannot help themselves. These lads are not electors, and it is our duty to give them some special consideration, particularly as we have agreed in past legislation that they shall be retained until they reach the age of eighteen. By reducing the period by one year it may make a great difference to a number of youths, and we should not do anything that would inflict a hardship on any boy in the community. I can quite understand that it is not wise to turn a number of young men on to the labour market without any trade or any commercial training.

Senator Russell - I understand that examinations are held every six months, and if they started at seventeen they would have three opportunities of submitting 'themselves for examination.

Senator DUNCAN - Yes, but a lad might become ill and miss his examination, and in an exceptional case might be indisposed when the next examination was held.

Senator Russell - A lad could sit for an examination at seventeen, at seventeen and a half, or at eighteen.

Senator DUNCAN - That is the law at present; but, if Senator Payne's suggestion is . adopted, the examination would have to be passed before they reached seventeen; and if, through ill-health or some other unforeseen cause, they could not sit, they would be dismissed from the Service, although they might be very keen " to remain in its employment. I do not think any advantage can be gained by reducing the period of service, and I trust the clause will pass in its present form.

SenatorREID (Queensland) [6.14].- The statement of the Minister (Senator Russell) to the effect that every boy who passed the examination had been absorbed astonished me.

Senator Russell - I said that I did not remember having heard of a complaint as to any boy being dismissed after having passed the examination.

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