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Wednesday, 17 September 1941

Senator BRAND (VICTORIA) .- I desire to know from the Minister representing the Postmaster-General if consideration will be given to the question of raising the status of semi-official postmasters to that of official postmasters. I understand that, in the whole of the Commonwealth, only 135 persons would be affected. The majority of them are returned, .soldiers some of whom have been temporarily employed in that capacity for over twenty years. Their duties embrace the selling of stamps of all kinds, supplying and cashing postal notes, issuing and cashing money orders, the payment of war pensions, military and air force allotments, old-age and invalid pensions and child endowment, and the receipt of moneys for war service homes, wireless licences and telephone accounts. In addition, semi-official postmasters have to carry out other duties during election and military campaigns. Weekly and monthly returns have to be prepared and forwarded to the department's head office. All of this entails clerical work and minute accuracy. Above all, a temporary official must be honest. In one Melbourne suburban office, nearly £100,000 was received and paid over the counter in one year. In some country post offices, the annual turnover is approximately £50,000. These returned soldier postmasters have served the department just as loyally as they served the nation in the Great War. Their position is insecure because of the possibility of their replacement by soldiers returning from the present war. They are up against a wall, a dead end to their ambition. If the Postmaster-General will grade semi-official returned soldier postmasters as official postmasters where the volume of business warrants such a change, the present holders of those positions will come under the scope of section 84 (9) of the Commonwealth Public Service Act and become eligible for permanent rank with all the stability appertaining thereto. In urging consideration for these temporary semi-official returned soldier postmasters, I am not confusing them with non-official postmasters who are paid at scale rates determined in accordance with the business transacted at their offices. I ask the Minister to bring this matter to the notice of the Postmaster-General.

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