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Wednesday, 3 June 1942

Senator ASHLEY (New South Wales) (Postmaster-General) . - The matter raised by Senator Sampson is complicated, but I am prepared to have it investigated by the Attorney-General's Department if the honorable senator does not desire to place it before the department. Recently Senator Sampson directed the following question, upon notice, to me, as Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service: -

1.   In view of the proposed drastic reorganination of industry, as announced by the Government, so that 318,000 additional men amd women will be provided by the end of December for the armed forces, munitions, shipbuilding and aircraft programmes, and for allied work, will the Minister consider the diversion to useful war-time occupations of the large number of persons at present occupied in the parliamentary press galleries?

2.   Are these press representatives, in a reserved occupation;; if so, why?

3.   If not, do their present activities serve any useful purpose or help the national war effort? 4'. What is the number of males employed in this manner, and what are their ages and medical categories?

5.   What newspapers do they represent, and what, is the number attached to each newspaper ?

The Minister for Labour and National Service has furnished the following answers : -

1.   All occupations are kept- under constant review by the man-power authorities. The position of journalists is considered in the tight of where they might give the greatest service to the: war effort.

2.   Newspaper employees, are not included in the schedule of reserved occupations.

3.   They are dealt with having regard to the importance of the work they perform. In considering plans for the proper utilization of man-power, the newspapers organizations arc not being overlooked, and the question is at present receiving further consideration at the- hand's of the Government.

4.   There are 40 pressman engaged, in the Canberra gallery. The information regarding their ages and' medical categories could be obtained but only at the cost of a great deal of the time of an organization already heavily overburdened.

5.   They comprise separate, staffs for the following papers: - Melbourne Argus, Melbourne Age, Melbourne Sun News-Pictorial, Melbourne Herald, Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney Truth, Sydney Daily Mirror, Australian United Press, Brisbane Telegraph, Sydney Sun, and the Australian Broadcasting, Commission and Renter's Cable Service. These pressman have additional duties in representing the following papers: - The Perth West Australian, Adelaide Advertiser, Adelaide News, Hobart Mercury, Launceston Examiner. Brisbane Courier-Mail, and country papers throughout Australia, and the British and American cable services apart from Renter's.

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