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Friday, 18 September 1936

Senator ARKINS (New South Wales) . - I hope that this amendment will clear up the difficulty which has existed in the past in connexion with the permanent employment of returned soldiers in the Public Service. That difficulty has been most apparent in the PostmasterGeneral's Department. I know of a number of cases in which the present law has operated unfairly against returned soldiers. I sincerely trust that these disabilities will now be overcome. As Senator Hardy .has pointed out, the present provisions of the act operate unfairly against a temporary employee who, having almost completed the qualifying period for permanent employment, has had his service terminated because of ill-health.

Senator Brennan - Sick leave would not break the continuity of his service. In that ease the officer would be granted leave of absence. Senator Hardy in that respect pushed his illustration too far.

Senator ARKINS - Nevertheless, the act operated unfairly against a temporary employee who may have had broken periods of service aggregating up to four years. It may be that a man has been put off at definite periods in order to break the continuity of his service. I have known of that happening.

Senator Collings - That is done in private enterprise in order to evade awards.

Senator ARKINS - It is done also in the Public Service. I should like to see tlie word " continuously " eliminated.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The Government could not agree to that. The bill provides for nearly all the cases which have arisen in my department.

Senator ARKINS - I am pleased that something definite is being done, and that wrongs are being righted. We were told before that everything was being put right; but they were not put right. lt is strange to find government departments, particularly the Postmaster-General's Department, setting themselves up to defeat the objects of the legislation passed by this Parliament. The whole purpose of the legislation was to put these men back into employment, but they were not put back. I mention the case of a man who was eligible for appointment in New South Wales being offered a position in Victoria or South Australia and told that he would have to pay his own transfer expenses. It is wrong that mcn should be subjected to such treatment. When the legislatue deliberately enacts a law to provide that certain things shall be done, it is not right for any department to put obstacles in the way. Returned soldiers have had to jump a thousand hurdles before regaining their positions.

Senator McLeay -Would the honorable senator expect a department to employ men for whom there was no work available ?

Senator ARKINS - At the time that they were denied work, young men were being given employment. There are more ways of killing a dog than by choking it with butter, and there are more ways of keeping returned soldiers out of the Public Service than appear on the surface. I regret that the PostmasterGeneral's Department should make such efforts to keep returned soldiers out".

Senator McLeay - That is not correct.

Senator ARKINS - That is how it appears to me. I thank the PostmasterGeneral (Senator A. J. McLachlan) for what he has done in one case, but I do not thank the department. I hope that the bill will clear this matter up, as it is not right that returned men should be hindered in every possible way by those who administer the act.

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