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Wednesday, 9 November 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- I wish to direct the attention of the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) to a statement which he made on the last sitting day, in connexion with a clause which I was anxious to have fully considered. It was to the effect that, after a conference he had with the high council of the Public Service organizations, their objection to the clause referred to had been withdrawn. 1" have since been informed by a representative of the Public Service organizations that that is not so, and I mention the matter now to give the Minister an opportunity to reconsider the clause at a later stage.

Senator RUSSELL(Victoria- Vice-

Presidentof the Executive Council) [3.8]. - The statement I made was that I had taken an opportunity of meeting representatives of the parties concerned. I saw the Central Executive of the Returned Soldiers and Sailors Imperial League, and they informed me that proposals for the amendment of the Public Service Bill sent in by particular branches were to be ignored, and only those submitted by the Central Executive of the League to be considered. I appreciated that, because a number of proposals were sent in by branches in different States. I gave the organization all the time they wanted, and, finally, there were, I think, only four clauses in connexion with which their suggestions were not finally dealt with. I gave the executive of the Public Service Association an interview of over three hours. I agreed to certain concessions they demanded, and blankly refused some of their demands because they had already been voted upon in the Senate. I do not know to which particular clause Senator Payne refers, but I had no intention of stating that the Public Service Association accepted the Bill as a whole. I mentioned to the executive that the provisions of the' Bill were considered by myself with other members of the Government, as a sub -Committee of the Cabinet. I said that I could not accept certain suggestions because the Government had considered and rejected them. They left me in a perfectly friendly way after shaking hands. . They took notes, and marked their copies of the Bill to show the concessions I was prepared to make, and I am redeeming my promises in that regard by the amendments I am proposing. They knew just as well that there were other proposals of theirs which the Government were not prepared to accede to. What I said was that I had met them, and conferred on nearly every clause. When they went away they expressed no dissatisfaction. They put up a good case; but I was quite candid, and told them what I would and what I would not accept. To-day I purpose redeeming the promises I made to the civil servants and the returned soldiers, but I shall not grant everything they asked for. Four suggestions, which I referred to Cabinet, were rejected.

Senator Vardon - Are your concessions contained in your printed amendments ?

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