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Friday, 18 September 1936

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Postmaster-General) . - I am astonished at the violence of the honorable senator's language. I take it that he understands that employment in the Postmaster-General's Department does not rest with that department. All employment, dismissals and fresh appointments are in the hands of the Public Service Board. That is as it should be. There is no desire on the part of the authorities controlling the Postal Department to keep returned soldiers out. From conversations with the departmental heads, I know that they are in favour of appointing these men, who cannot, however, be taken on if there is no work for them to do. I remind Senator Arkins that not long ago there were hundreds, if not thousands, of men in the Public Service doing the work of juniors. The Government is pleased that conditions have improved; but when it desires to appoint these returned soldiers it is faced with the provisions of section 84 of the act. Sub-paragraph (ii) in clause 11 meets the difficulties which have been brought under the notice of the Government. The word " continuously " is common to the old act and the bill. I ask the committee to accept the bill as it is. The key word is " were ". If a man is off duty for, say, two months on sick leave his absence from work is not regarded as interfering with his continuous service. The act is administered generously, and I am confident that the bill will not injure any one whom it is designed to help.

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